PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


Bar staff have ashtrays for smokers

I could not agree more with Gibson Wong Lok-tak ('Many bars now ignore smoking ban', May 9).

The stagnant air sickens people, particularly in upstairs bars, and nobody seems to care about this situation.

Even non-smokers going to these bars are afraid to raise the issue with the landlord or waitresses, as they see ashtrays placed almost everywhere. I even once saw a customer asking a member of staff to provide him with an ashtray; she willingly complied.

The attitude in those bars appears to be that people go there to light up even though it is against the law and that non-smokers who are unwilling to be harmed by second-hand smoke should meet somewhere else.

We all have rights. When people light up in these bars, they violate the right of non-smokers to breathe fresh air.

Customers who realise what is happening is wrong may wish to try to rectify the situation. However, they are often scared of getting a violent response or they know that their request for people to adhere to the law will be ignored.

It seems that only bars in places like shopping malls or well-known tourist spots such as Lan Kwai Fong will abide by the law. This is probably because of tighter security measures in these areas.

Maybe it is now time for the government or the Tobacco Control Office to step up patrols and launch a crackdown, particularly at night.

Leigh-Anne Wong, Sha Tin

Road users should act responsibly

Nigel Lam ('Pedestrians have right to walk on road', May 9) claims that pedestrians have the right to walk on the road, but then proceeds to illustrate how stupid this would be if it were true.

In particular, he draws attention to Stubbs Road, mentioned in my letter ('Pedestrians must stay on pavement', May 3), where 'most cars drive above the legal speed limit'. He would probably enjoy Russian roulette.

While it is the responsibility of all road users to find out what they can and cannot do, much of the confusion would be removed if offenders were fined, or warned, on a regular basis. Unfortunately, in addition to pedestrians walking on the road, we constantly see cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road and ignoring traffic lights. (Is this their right, Mr Lam?)

We see drivers failing to signal, blatantly using hand-held phones, failing to switch on headlights at night, in heavy rain and in tunnels, and frequently driving in the wrong lane. Mostly, they go unnoticed by the police.

Everyone must act responsibly and play their part in preventing accidents.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Self-control important with mobiles

I share Adrian Leung Ho-ting's view that overuse of mobile phones has become a serious problem in Hong Kong ('Mobiles kill the art of conversation', May 8).

He is right in arguing that such overuse may lead to a decline in face-to-face conversation between people.

Individuals have become over-dependent on their mobiles. Some seem to have difficulty going even an hour without checking it. In the past, these devices were simply there to enable people to have a conversation. Now they play games, text messages and surf the internet constantly.

They are able to use all these functions now on mobiles because of the development of new technology. Whenever news of the latest model is made public, many people feel they just have to buy it. And those who are really into their mobiles will often chat by SMS message rather than actually have a proper conversation.

I love to hang out with my friends and have dinner together, but I found that as soon as we sat down in the restaurant, they started checking their mobiles. I suggested that we make a rule to keep our phones in our pockets while we had dinner, and it has made a difference.

We have started to enjoy the art of conversation again. It is fun using your mobile phone, but people have to exercise self- control and find the right balance. Control the phone, but don't let it control you.

Heyson Wong Man-hei, Sha Tin

Use cash for world-class facility

Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, chairman of the assessment committee of the Mega Events Fund, seems eager to give away more of the HK$100 million the fund was allocated in the 2009 budget ('Mega Events Fund relaxes the rules', May 14).

Perhaps he may want to spend some of our millions buying a few hundred shovels as a gift to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, to allow it to start digging some foundations to build a cultural centre worthy of the international acts that bypass Hong Kong for other Asian cities that offer world-class facilities.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Government could have been tougher

While the administration in Hong Kong has always adopted the 'big market, small government' approach, sometimes it has a responsibility to intervene in the interests of citizens.

There is a growing trend in society towards sustainable development and the government should have demanded cleaner buses from the three bus companies before granting them a 10-year franchise.

This would be consistent with adopting environmentally friendly policies in the city. Bus firms seeking new franchises are far more willing to improve the quality of their vehicles.

It would have been more problematic to insist on concessions for elderly passengers and long-distance commuters, because it is difficult to ask a firm to make a financial commitment for 10 years. It is difficult to predict what will happen over that period. Moreover, if costs rose but the firms could not raise fares, it would be unfair.

Lai Sin-yi, Sha Tin

Consult HK citizens over legislation

The Copyright (Amendment) Bill has proved controversial.

I do think the government has to reconsider its proposals, some of which could restrict creative input online.

I accept the growing influence of the internet and that legislation has to be updated to take account of that. Curbs are needed on cybercrime, and copyright protection is essential to prevent illegal downloading.

However, some argue that it would be unfair to prevent a creation based on an original, copyrighted work, especially if no one profited from doing it. People who do this are sharing ideas and expressing their opinions on social issues.

The government must strike the right balance between protecting copyright and online freedom of speech.

When they are going to draft amendments to legislation, it is important for officials to gauge public opinion.

They will only get through measures smoothly by building and arriving at a consensus in society.

Annie Lo Yam-kwan, Kowloon City

Europe must swallow bitter pill

I frequently agree with Alex Lo's social observations, but could not disagree more with his economic analysis ('Europe feels the pain Asia once endured', May 8).

His comment that Asian countries would have suffered a lot less during the 1998 Asian financial crisis 'if we had been allowed a bit of inflationary growth and stimulus' is like prescribing an alcohol binge to cure a hangover. Asia weathered the global financial crisis in good shape precisely because of the restructuring it underwent following the Asian financial crisis.

Monetary inflation in a vain attempt to promote growth would only have kicked the can down the road on making the hard choices necessary to correct economic imbalances.

It is no surprise European voters would oppose austerity. Having lived in a bubble for so long, it is no wonder they don't want to tighten their belts now. But the bitter medicine must be swallowed; governments can't simply decree growth and make it so. It is a shame that memories in Europe are short and people don't remember how painful bouts of inflation are.

What's more, inflation does not necessarily stimulate economic growth. It mostly leads to misallocation of resources and preference for risky, not necessarily productive, assets.

Without restructuring, loose European monetary policy is more likely to lead to stagflation.

Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay