PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 January, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should the Yuen Long crocodile be left to live in the wild?

Leaving the crocodile in the river would do more harm than good to people and the animal itself. It is a symbol of freedom when swimming in the river, but it could also become a symbol of danger.

The safety of people living around the river is threatened. If some people try to catch the crocodile themselves using improper methods, there is a danger that it could attack. Moreover, the crocodile could also attack people who are walking nearby and unaware of it.

The crocodile may also damage the river's ecosystem. The demand for food has increased in the river because of the unexpected reptile. It must also compete with birds for fish and space on the riverbank. Conflicts are inevitable and the ecosystem in the river is disturbed.

On the other hand, the health of the crocodile is being harmed by the dirty environment it is living in. It was this dirty water that scared off Australian crocodile hunter John Lever.

The little river is not the ideal place for the reptile to live permanently, so it should be moved as soon as possible to ensure that it is healthy.

The idea of allowing the Yuen Long crocodile to live in the wild should be dropped and a new home for it should be decided as quickly as possible.

Yeung Chun-wing, Tsuen Wan Some people fear the crocodile may endanger citizens nearby, so they have suggested catching it and putting it in a zoo. However, catching the crocodile is not essential to reduce the danger. Crocodiles are wild animals. They should live in the wild. To stop the animal attacking people, we could put nets in the river to limit its living area.

People should not always think of damaging the natural environment. We could use the crocodile to promote Hong Kong. Why must we remove it? Besides, why can't we put in another crocodile? People would be very interested once there was another generation.

Eric Tsui Kwok-fung, Shamshuipo

Q Should university funding be cut?

I'm afraid not. As we all know, Hong Kong is undergoing a structural change in its economy. It is developing into a knowledge-based society. University graduates who have the highest education level in the community will be the pillars of our future economy. Therefore, resources allocated to university students should be considered not only as expenditure, but also as an investment, according to Mr Tung Chee-hwa.

Therefore, despite the fact that university students are citizens who should shoulder the responsibility of helping to balance the budget, they are the foundation of our future economy. Without professionals who can meet international standards, a world-class city cannot be built. A funding cut of about 10 per cent would affect universities' ability to nurture potentially productive undergraduates, but only make a tiny contribution to easing the financial deficit. Is it worth it?

Cindy Cheung, Kwun Tong

Q Should bosses be allowed to spy on staff in the workplace?

It is common for bosses to supervise employees as they are uncertain whether subordinates work hard. However, is it necessary for bosses to spy on their daily activities? Certainly not. Everyone is entitled to privacy. Employers should also respect their employees.

Spying may create tension within firms as staff feel threatened. Therefore, their morale tends to be lower. While spying is apparently used to ensure high productivity, I think mutual trust is a better way to achieve this.

Superiors should try to remove the differences in status between them and staff. If they successfully conduct industrial relations, staff would probably automatically work harder for the bosses. There would then be no need to use such autocratic methods to force employees to work.

Name and address supplied

Q Does Hong Kong use too much plastic?

I think Hong Kong is using too much plastic. Every day, supermarkets and shops give away thousands of plastic bags to customers for carrying their goods, but they are also given bags to carry lightweight products such as newspapers.

Sometimes, the customers will simply throw away the bag if they don't think it's necessary. Although many supermarkets offer cash refunds to customers who don't need plastic bags, most people seem to ignore them. This is because the cash refund is so small. As a result, more and more plastic is used.

Plastic is very difficult to recycle. When burned, poison gases are produced. It is also very difficult to break it down organically, but this method has been adopted by the government. Chan Kong, Tsuen Wan

On other matters ...

I refer to the article headlined 'Judge wants job training centres for drug addicts in prison' (January 3).

We agree that job training opportunities should be provided for young drug addicts.

The treatment programmes in drug addiction treatment centres that are administered by the Correctional Services Department are aimed at achieving the following objectives:

Detoxification and restoration of physical health;

Ending psychological dependence; and

Developing socially acceptable behaviour so as to improve addicts' interpersonal skills and increase their potential for productive and remunerative employment.

Against this background, work is administered as a form of therapy and an essential part of the programme. It aims to improve inmates' health, encourage them to cultivate good working habits and establish self-confidence as well as responsibility. Inmates are assigned work that is commensurate with their capabilities, skills and physical condition.

Although the length of detention at the centres is very short, on average five to six months, the CSD has spared no efforts in increasing inmates' potentials for productive and remunerative employment upon release.

For instance, young male drug addiction centre inmates under the age of 21 at Lai Sun Correctional Institution are provided with training in computer studies and Chinese word-processing to enhance their employment opportunities after release. Arrangements have also been made for them to receive remedial education classes. There are also courses preparing inmates for trade tests or examinations conducted by the Vocational Training Council, the Construction Industry Training Authority and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

The ultimate aim of rehabilitation is the offender's smooth and successful reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen. Your readers can rest assured that any factors that are conducive to achieving this goal will not be taken lightly by CSD.

Samson Chan, for the commissioner of correctional services