PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am


Minor law changes can curb smokers

I refer to the letter by Tai Wai bar owner P. A. Crush ('It would not be feasible to make bar owners responsible for illegal smokers', June 27).

He says the law should not punish licensees for illegal smoking in bars, contrary to the norm overseas. In Britain, recalcitrant landlords have been jailed for repeatedly allowing smoking in their pubs.

Licensees must comply with certain conditions.

These stipulate, amongst others, that in the premises the licensee shall personally supervise, no disorder shall be permitted, no person shall be allowed to become drunk, nor liquor supplied to any person who is drunk.

Also, no games of chance are allowed to be played, no prostitutes or reputed thieves, no drunkenness, violence, quarrel or other disorderly conduct are allowed. No people of bad character are allowed to assemble or remain in the bar. It is also stipulated that the 'licensee shall not permit any person to occupy or use any portion of the premises for any immoral or illegal purpose'.

The anti-smoking legislation is enacted to protect workers in the workplace and smoking indoors is against the law, hence it would be deemed an 'illegal purpose' under licence condition seven.

Applying Mr Crush's argument, he would do away with all above licensing conditions that currently apply to licensees and licence renewal. The government just needs to add 'including the carrying or use of a lighted tobacco product' at the end of licence condition seven.

Under section 3 (3) of the anti-smoking legislation Cap 371, the law states that the manager of a no-smoking area 'may' take specific action to prevent smoking, including using reasonable force.

This part of the law needs to be amended to 'must' instead of 'may' if the new government genuinely intends to enforce the current laws. The Tobacco Control Office is seriously understaffed and this seriously inhibits preventative patrols and action.

James Middleton, chairman, Clear the Air

Officers failing to be proactive

I hope the government can show it is serious in trying to stamp out the evils of smoking in Hong Kong, especially in places such as bars and restaurants.

If it is serious, it should make sure the Tobacco Control Office is acting proactively and not just sit back and take a knee-jerk approach to enforcement.

In the past 12 months, I must have contacted the office more than 10 times via the call centre, complaining of blatant flouting of the anti-smoking laws in bars and restaurants, including in air-conditioned cooked food stalls on top of government-run markets.

And every time they do respond to my complaints, they have replied that they have issued several summonses and that the management of these premises have been warned.

This sounds good, but it is not because two of these places were subject to at least three complaints each and offenders were found every time.

Why does the office not act proactively but wait for complaints?

On a similar subject, in addition to smoking, I have also complained about the restaurants in Bowrington Road in Wan Chai, which have blocked entire lengths of the pavements with baskets and makeshift tanks of seafood, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road.

I have complained several times and have to ask why law enforcement officers seem unable to notice these offences.

The police are so meticulous about protesters blocking traffic, yet for years they have been oblivious to seafood restaurant operators blocking the entire pavement.

David Tjian, Quarry Bay

Legislators' bias is showing

The difficult relations between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Legislative Council have got worse.

The stories that broke over his illegal structures bore a close similarity to problems affecting failed chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen and former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

These structures were symptomatic of what is wrong with the Hong Kong government.

I think the public feeling is that both Tang and Leung had acted irresponsibly. However, while I do not think Leung was forthcoming enough, I also think that Legco's response was too prejudiced.

We should not assume that this case of illegal structures means that Leung will make a bad leader. His integrity may have been damaged, but not his leadership skills.

It was a bit rich for legislators to point fingers about an inability to lead Hong Kong, given the recent delays to a number of important laws in the Legislative Council chamber. They ranted over Leung's illegal structures, but pushed aside laws they considered irksome, such as, for example, the copyright law.

Instead of fussing about our leader's trivial structures, which do not interfere with Hong Kong, why not pay attention to important legislation that has been delayed?

Valkyrie Suen, Causeway Bay

High hopes for new chief executive

Like other Hong Kong citizens, I have high expectations of the new chief executive, Leung Chun-ying.

Hong Kong is now facing a lot of challenges. It is anticipated that the economic and political situations will get tougher due to global recession and rising public discontent resulting from the widening wealth gap and the greater demand for democracy.

As I see it, Mr Leung is a hardworking and capable man with a vision and a real heart for Hong Kong.

Therefore, I do support him as our chief executive.

I sincerely hope that he and his team will do their utmost to help Hong Kong overcome the pressing problems that lie ahead and that he will give us a new ray of hope while leading us to a brighter and more prosperous future.

I wish Mr Leung and his new team every success in governing Hong Kong in the coming five years.

Godwin Wong Yan-ho, Tsuen Wan

Stories on structures over the top

During the chief executive election, I was appalled by the media coverage on illegal structures. Now the same thing is happening with the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's house on The Peak.

Maybe these illegal-structures paparazzi should investigate their own bosses' properties. Which tycoon does not have additions to their properties?

Anyway, for me, I just find Hong Kong so wasteful; having to break down all these structures will mean even more waste going into our already cramped landfills.

As long as they are not a safety hazard, the Buildings Department should consider what is acceptable. Leave it or give us another problem to tackle.

Nicolet Ruzius, Fo Tan

Highlight issues that matter

I am amazed that the Democratic Party and its allies are spending so much time and effort over illegal structures at Leung Chun-ying's Peak home.

Don't they have better issues to tackle than this relatively small one?

What about the shortage of affordable housing, the shortage of maternity beds, the shortage of school places and the ever- increasing income gap between the wealthy and everyone else? And what about defining the road map for Hong Kong to remain Asia's world city?

In case they haven't noticed, we have serious competition from Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and many others. Wake up and get real folks.

Christine Wong, Mid-Levels

No illegal work at bridge

We refer to the report ('Illegal works detected on bridge', June 8) about the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project.

You said that 'problems of illegal construction have been discovered on parts of the bridge and other projects under the jurisdiction of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Ports Association said. Last month, 145 cases of illegal construction were discovered on coastal infrastructure projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.'

After thorough checking, we can confirm that there have been no illegal construction practices regarding the main bridge project.

Zhu Yongling, director, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Authority