PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am


Ignorance rife over alcohol risks

Pernod Ricard, as a member of the wine and spirits industry, and KELY Support Group, as a youth-focused charity, believe that a new approach needs to be taken to better inform young adults in Hong Kong about the social, academic and health impacts of harmful alcohol consumption patterns.

Earlier this year, the Hong Kong government's working group on alcohol and health published an action plan that put out a clear call to develop better awareness of alcohol and its effects. According to a study cited in the plan, university students in Hong Kong do not fully understand the risks associated with irresponsible drinking.

While many schools across Hong Kong offer information about alcohol-related issues as a part of their curricula, it is clear that more can be done to get students fully engaged with understanding that if they choose to drink, they should do so responsibly. This autumn the Responsib'ALL Hong Kong 'For Youth, By Youth' competition will challenge university students to design compelling social marketing campaigns to raise responsible drinking awareness.

With this competition, we aim to move beyond teaching students about alcohol and its effects to getting them actively involved in promoting responsible habits in their communities.

Both of our organisations call on our industry and non-governmental organisation peers, along with educators, parents and other mentors, to consider additional creative ways to reach young adults about this critical issue.

Xavier Beysecker, managing director, Pernod Ricard Hong Kong, Chung Tang, executive director, KELY Support Group

Help should be offered to parents

I applaud Dora Choi and Anita Chan for raising the important issue of ensuring that Hong Kong's children receive lessons in critical life skills ('Helping hand', June 22).

As they point out, holistically educating children can help to mitigate problems of youth unemployment, domestic violence, and the like.

However, the argument that schools take full responsibility for child development via the curriculum because parents are too busy to engage with their children is misguided. Rather, an approach in which social workers (or other personnel linked to the school system) serve as instructors and liaison with parents and other community resources would be a more comprehensive approach.

These family workers' objective would be to help the family unit, especially parents, achieve a common understanding of positive child development.

Over time, this approach would strengthen families and prevent broader social problems.

Developing the capacity of family workers in Hong Kong's school system is the first step in reaching this objective.

At the Institute for Families at Rutgers University, we have been training such family workers for several years. They get 90 hours of comprehensive training over several months leading to the family development credential.

We have found these workers understand how to successfully work with all stakeholders in the family system - parents, children, teachers - to promote the welfare of children and families.

I hope Hong Kong will not give up on the capability of the family system to participate in positive child development. Life skills education in schools is one aspect of what I believe to be a multi-faceted approach.

A more sustainable solution should indeed involve parents as they are an integral part of a child's life, as well as the integration of existing support in the community.

Andy Germak, executive director, Institute for Families, Rutgers University School of Social Work, New Brunswick, New Jersey, US

Ferries can ease Stanley congestion

I refer to the letter by D. Wilson ('Stanley does not need more cars', June 26).

I used to enjoy going to the beach and pubs in Stanley on a Saturday afternoon, but the narrow, crowded roads eventually put me off. You would be sitting on a double-decker bus and suddenly another bus or a large lorry would appear in the oncoming lane on a bend.

Your correspondent's letter reminded me of this lost Shangri-La on the south side of Hong Kong Island.

Over the years, there has been little improvement and no road-widening engineering works.

Luckily there have not been serious accidents, but I do believe the pressure on these roads could be eased.

The government should operate ferry services to the waterfront at Stanley so that visitors have another transport option and can avoid the roads.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling

Let voters see attendance records

I was disappointed that legislator Ip Kwok-him asked pro-establishment Legco members to arrange shifts to prevent a Legislative Council meeting failing to meet a quorum during the filibustering debate on the by-election bill last month.

Lawmakers should have been attending the full meeting, rather than trying to arrange shifts.

An employee who cannot get to work has to have a sick note, but it seems our prestigious legislators can choose when they want to work.

Some may argue that they have other jobs, but if these responsibilities take them away from the chamber a lot, maybe they need to decide if they are suitable to stand again in Legislative Council elections.

They should not get in the way of candidates who are passionate about serving the community.

Even though they must have surgeries with constituents, they can organise these on days when they are not required to attend Legco meetings.

I would suggest that the Legislative Council should provide attendance statistics of those lawmakers who wish to defend their seat in an election to voters.

This will make it clear to citizens how hard-working their representatives really are and enable them to make the best choice of candidate when casting their vote.

Kelvin Leung Hoi-kin, Tsuen Wan

Leung must win back public trust

I believed that Leung Chun-ying was better than the other two candidates in the chief executive election. But following the scandal over unauthorised structures I feel let down.

Before the election took place, many politicians, including one of the candidates Henry Tang Ying-yen, were revealed to have had illegal structures in their homes. This badly affected citizens' trust in them. In Mr Tang's case, I believe it was the main reason for his defeat. Mr Leung criticised him over this matter and emphasised there were no such structures at his home.

I now have doubts about these claims given that he is a professional surveyor. After what has happened with these structures I, and I think the public, have lost confidence in Mr Leung. We need further explanations from him about his home, and they must be detailed if he wants to regain that public confidence. Also, I urge him, as chief executive, to implement policies that lead to real improvements in society, and ensure sustainable development. He must prove that the mistakes he made with these illegal structures will not affect his ability to govern Hong Kong.

Leung Ho-ting, Tsuen Wan

Punish this aggressive minority

Is P. A. Crush suggesting that we should be lenient on offenders if they become abusive and violent ('It would not be feasible to make bar owners responsible for illegal smokers', June 27)?

In my letter that Mr Crush objects to ('Smoking bans are not enforced', June 20), I did particularly mention that bar owners should be made responsible for illegal smoking on their premises, but I said the same for management companies.

I did not only pick on small-bar owners, but mentioned bars as a location where a lot of illegal smoking occurs. Yes, directors of major property companies should be made responsible for the illegal smoking which goes on in the toilets of their malls and office blocks.

I suggest that they immediately start installing smoke detectors linked to showerheads above each toilet cubicle, thus neatly combining extinguishing the cigarette with a mild punishment of the offender.

As for employees, they should be provided with clear guidelines: ask the offender to stop, then call the police and identify the offender when they arrive.

The anti-smoking law was passed because of the danger to people's health. Why are we letting an aggressive minority of smokers continue to inflict this harm?

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang