PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2003, 12:00am

Q Should public tenants be allowed to keep pets?

Residents of government housing have always known that by the letter of the law they should not keep pets.

In the past, the government turned a blind eye to the situation. Periodically, the government enforces the law. This happened about six years ago. During that time, pets in large numbers were destroyed, rehoused or abandoned. This had a horrendous impact on many families.

In a place like Hong Kong, where apartment living is the norm, pets become very much an integral part of family life.

The benefits of pet ownership are enormous. For example, research has shown it reduces the government's health-care spending.

Government money budgeted for this clampdown on pets in public housing could be diverted to introduce strategies to enable responsible pet ownership. For example, the government can limit the size and number of pets per household.

Singapore adopts a policy where all pets in public housing must be under a certain size. They must be registered and licensed. If a legitimate complaint is made about a particular pet, then its owner must rehouse the animal.

It is interesting to note that the press has recently reported the biggest viral killer in southern China is not Sars but rabies.

All dogs in Hong Kong over five months are required by law to be micro-chipped, licensed and vaccinated against rabies every three years.

Obviously, public housing residents are not keen to reveal to a government department they are keeping a dog - hence many of these dogs are kept unlicensed and not vaccinated against rabies.

The border between Hong Kong and the southern mainland seems to be quite porous when it comes to the movement of dogs.

On a larger scale, my concern is also the welfare of Hong Kong people. The policy against pets in public housing flats may lead to a large number of dogs, unvaccinated against rabies, being abandoned in country parks. This could pose a real threat of rabies to our community.

Dr Lloyd Kenda, Valley Veterinary Centre, Happy Valley

Q Will legalised soccer betting worsen Hong Kong's gambling addiction?

Legalised soccer gambling just seems to add one more type of gambling for people to choose from. Yet, what I consider most important is the feeling of the football players.

As far as I know, the government did ask for comments from residents and among all the reports of the legalisation, I couldn't find the opinions of the players. Do they agree? Do they think soccer betting will tarnish the image of the sport?

I wonder if it is fair to treat football players like the tools of another form of gambling - racehorses.

Janice Yim Chi-Wai, Tseung Kwan O

On other matters ...

The current typhoon warning system has been in use for a number of years and it appears that there is room for improvement.

Very often in the past, we have experienced traffic chaos and commuter nightmares when the typhoon signal was changed from No 3 to No 8 since schools and offices would close at the same time. Perhaps because of this, the Observatory has been issuing additional information regarding the probability of a switch of typhoon signal from No 3 to No 8. This is an indication something is missing between the two typhoon signals.

An intermediate signal No 5 would help to convey the necessary message in a clear manner. For example, a change of signal from No 3 to No 5 would indicate there is a high probability that signal No 8 will be hoisted within hours. At this point, all schools, but not offices, will be closed. Thus, this incremental approach can offer an improvement to the current arrangement.

H. C. Ho, Mongkok

The Hong Kong Observatory suffered severe criticism for lowering the typhoon signal when Typhoon Imbudo swept by. This is unfair because it has done a really good job in providing weather information. Once you have been a visitor to their official website, you can find all sorts of updated weather information and you can keep track of tropical cyclones.

If people had paid close attention to the Observatory's announcements, they might not have found it too difficult to foresee the No 8 signal would have been lowered in the morning. A day off was just wishful thinking.

Wong Wan-man, Stanley

Intentional or not, there has been too much misunderstanding and speculation on renewable energy, and it is time to look at the reality.

Cost: while solar energy and other forms of renewable energy may be still expensive and restricted to local applications, wind energy has proven to be reliable and inexpensive. Three wind farms are operational in Guangdong and the unit cost is only about $0.20 more expensive than conventional fire-powered plant per kilowatt. Hence, sourcing 5 per cent of Hong Kong's power supply from wind energy should have little impact on electricity prices.

Reliability: this is a minor issue. Power companies have yet to produce convincing evidence of any technical difficulties in importing wind energy from Guangdong. After all, they already import nuclear energy from Daya Bay.

Politics: this is the issue. The government and power companies echo each other by saying that any change must be agreed by both parties during the interim review of Scheme of Control Agreement. But if nothing can be changed, what's the point of having an 'interim review'?

Henry Ho, Friends of the Earth