Penalise bus operators for bad driving
The standard of driving in Hong Kong has long been a keen topic for your correspondents.
Most of us are aware of the preponderance of selfish drivers in the city: truck drivers stopping to unload wherever they want during the middle of the day; the offloading of wealthy shoppers in Queen's Road Central; the huge saloons idling at the kerbside whilst their tycoon masters talk shop over lunch at their favourite 'canteens', to name but a few.
However, I feel one particular aspect has been somewhat overlooked. It is the standard of driving exhibited by our public service drivers.
These people are employed to provide a service to the wider community, namely, safe, effective, and relatively affordable public transport. I have witnessed many times situations where their standards have fallen below those most of us would expect.
Aside from incidents where safety is put at risk, sometimes with tragic consequences, some drivers seem to either wilfully ignore - or worse, not know - the rules of the road.
A recent example occurred at the box junction where Fleming Road, Wan Chai Road and Johnston Road intersect on a recent weekday evening.
I picked up the tram on Johnston Road heading towards Central and wondered why we couldn't get through the lights.
The reason was the procession of buses blocking the box junction.
Four times the lights turned green, and four times the tram was unable to proceed - three large buses coming from Fleming Road were ably supported by a green minibus from Johnston Road in blocking the junction and holding up the tram and all traffic behind us.
If police or wardens witness this standard of driving, they should take a picture, note the registration number and file the details.
If the company commits a certain number of offences over a certain time frame it should be fined and the drivers reprimanded. That way, maybe we'll have a chance to get around this often fantastic city.
S. A. Summers, Wan Chai
Charge cars by minute for parking
Mary Melville makes some valid points about parking ('Forcing drivers into off-street parking facilities will help to reduce pollution', July 28).
On- and off-street parking charges should be similar, depending on the value of the land in the area.
Minimum charges should be illegal.
Car park operators must be made to charge by the minute, to encourage drivers to use the facilities for short periods instead of parking illegally on the streets.
Instead, we have taxpayer-funded traffic wardens chasing drivers around crowded streets while car parks with cynical and unnecessary one-hour (or even two) minimum charges are underused.
Jason Brockwell, The Peak
Too young for national education
As a student under the new senior secondary curriculum, I am unlikely to have to deal with the national education subject.
I fail to see why this new course should be considered as necessary and it almost seems like a torment for students if they have to continue with it throughout their primary and secondary school lives.
They are already struggling to find the time to deal with the subjects they have now in this exam-oriented education system.
I also object to it being introduced in primary schools for another reason. These children do not need a national education course at this stage in their lives. They are still too young to be able to judge and consider the information they are given. That is why people have talked of fears of brainwashing.
Besides, when I was in primary school, we were already receiving some national education and, as I say, this course adds to the stress pupils already face.
This new subject will be devalued unless it looks at all aspects of the nation including, for example, the Tiananmen Square incident on June 4, 1989. And if such areas are covered, students should not be exposed to false statements in the classroom.
If the government is determined to introduce this course, it should not do so until there has been a period of thorough consultation, so that it can gauge the opinions of schools and parents.
Then it must draw up transparent and feasible plans if it intends to make the subject compulsory, so that schools and parents are clear about what it involves.
Kellia Wan, Tseung Kwan O
What is the real purpose of course?
A number of groups representing political parties and various sectors of the community in the fields of, for example, social work and education, are opposed to the new national education subject for schools.
They argue that the teaching materials provided will be biased.
If this turns out to be the case, it will provide pupils with a distorted picture of the Chinese Communist Party and the mainland.
I am not writing to either express support for or opposition to the new course.
I think it is more important to take a step back and view this national education issue from another perspective.
My major concern is that we need to decide on the purpose of the course.
In Singapore, national education is taught in schools and is described as part of a holistic education.
The country's education ministry says it 'aims to develop national cohesion, cultivate the instinct for survival as a nation and instil in our students confidence in our nation's future'.
We cannot deny that we are Chinese citizens.
However, we need to determine how we can design our national education programme so that our children can really acquire a knowledge of our nation through a proper learning pathway.
Simply pulling back from this issue is not the best solution for our future generations.
Tse To-yap, Kwai Chung
Tunnelling method takes much longer
I refer to the letter by Sonam Ramchandani ('Pedestrians forced onto busy road', July 16).
The Water Supplies Department is laying water mains along Hillwood Road and across Nathan Road to replace water mains in Austin Road, which have burst several times in recent years. To minimise inconvenience to the public and disruption to traffic, we are using the trenchless tunnelling method for pipe laying.
The current work site near Nathan Road is a working pit for the tunnelling works across Nathan Road towards Austin Road. This involves deep and extensive excavation, which takes much more time than that needed for open cutting.
As the workers are mainly underground, people may not see any activity at the site. Our contractor has displayed notices informing the public that underground works are in progress.
We have tried our best not to disrupt pedestrians by keeping the work site clear of the adjacent footpath except for a slight encroachment on a very short section near the junction with Nathan Road. We are realigning the plant and access to the pit to remove the encroachment.
We anticipate the works at the junction of Hillwood and Nathan roads will be completed by March 2013. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
David Wong, senior engineer/public relations (acting), Water Supplies Department
Spare a thought for storm crews
I wonder if any of the letters complaining about the MTR during Typhoon Vicente or the fact that some roads were blocked know what it is like to work outside when the No 10 typhoon signal has been raised.
I can only praise everyone who braved the very difficult weather conditions to help Hong Kong, and condemn the critics and people who went out to play during the typhoon.
Mike Cartwight, Yuen Long
Wondering why Thaksin was let in
It would be interesting to know on what grounds the Immigration Department permitted the entry to Hong Kong of Thaksin Shinawatra, a man convicted of corruption charges and a fugitive from justice in his native country.
Officials can hardly claim not to have knowledge of his case.
David Chappell, Lamma