PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 March, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should students be retested if their exam papers are lost?

Losing exam papers is not unusual in other parts of the world. What is shocking and rare is that exam authorities fail to inform the affected students and cover it up until the ombudsman uncovers the scandal.

When the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority mishandles exam papers and fails to provide the results, students have a right to be informed and compensated, and not left totally in the dark wondering if their time-consuming study has gone to waste.

According to the ombudsman's report, however, the authority has breached students' basic rights. A retest may cost a fortune but it is the authority's responsibility to reassess the affected students, and to punish the corresponding markers.

There is no excuse for the authority in evading responsibility.

Additionally, having a retest would be just another mental torture for the affected students but it is the lesser evil. The authority should realise the paramount importance of keeping exam papers safe.

Chan Ka-shing, Yau Ma Tei

Q Do litterbugs deserve tougher penalties?

Tougher penalties should be imposed on selfish litterbugs who throw rubbish and spit anywhere.

Most Hongkongers are quite aware of the importance of hygiene since the Sars outbreak. Not only do they care about cleanliness at home, but they also care about public hygiene. To protect Hong Kong and avoid a second Sars outbreak, everybody should follow the strict rules enforced.

We cannot allow anyone to make Hong Kong a Third World country in terms of cleanliness, or lack of it.

Some of the elderly fail to comply with the law as they do not realise the importance of hygiene. This can only be improved by a government education programme.

Otherwise it will be difficult for everyone to work together to maintain a spotlessly clean Hong Kong.

Diana Wong On-yi, Tseung Kwan O

On other matters ...

What happened to the man who died from liver cirrhosis while waiting for treatment is really sad. The legacy of government neglect in the public health sector has its origins in the colonial era when everyone in Hong Kong seemed to be making easy money, so a laissez-faire attitude to public services was taken. But today, things have changed.

At one extreme we have very expensive and efficient private medical services that are unaffordable for many. At the other extreme we have hugely overcrowded government-run hospitals and outpatient clinics.

What is missing is the development of mid-priced clinics and hospitals. The government should facilitate their development through a national insurance scheme. Other countries such as South Korea, have developed such systems successfully, bringing quality health care to most citizens and their families.

Soma Das, Quarry Bay

As a Hunghom resident who commutes to work every day via the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, I am dismayed at its poor management and the ineffective monitoring of the Transport Department.

This is not a new problem but in the past month or so, ill-conceived measures have been introduced making the traffic situation worse. A third auto-toll gate has opened on the second inbound lane, with the other two at the first and eighth lanes.

While I have every respect for attempts to increase traffic flow with a third auto-toll lane being opened, it has been ineffective. Buses monopolise the auto-toll on the first lane and the new lane is under-utilised because valid vehicles simply have difficulty accessing it and so most will continue to use the eighth lane.

I sympathise with the traffic warden who waves frantically every morning at drivers to come forward to reach the new lane.

This is not the only problem as it had been common practice previously for tunnel staff to shut the second lane periodically to ensure buses were not caught in traffic jams.

A bigger problem is the abolition of the 'exact change' lane. I have no idea why this simple way of increasing efficiency was stopped and perhaps the Transport Department can enlighten us on the rationale.

One great achievement it has led to is the disappearance of all the vehicles at the funnel area before the tunnel - signalling a slowing of traffic flow at the gates. As if that's not enough, we now see the closure of the seventh gate. Hence on a Saturday morning when the gate area is normally clear, there are severe jams, but once you get through the toll gate it feels like midnight because there is so little traffic!

Name and address supplied

I usually buy my groceries from the Austin Avenue ParknShop. Recently, they started a sort of wet market selling fresh red meat which is kept on an uncovered counter.

Being a vegetarian, the sight of meat makes me feel unwell. Also, it's unhygienic for meat eaters too as it is subject to bacteria and cigarette smoke.

They are soon going to be offering meatballs, like sister concern 7-Eleven, and apparently fish will be on the menu too, which, quite frankly, will make my shopping experience absolutely disgusting.

I'd like to know how the ParknShop chain will differ from the street hawkers who sell their wares in the open air so passers-by have little choice but to breathe in the fumes. Also, a pre-recorded in-house audio channel advertising the shop's products throughout the store set at a high volume is a source of noise pollution. Using the audio system to play soft music would be a welcome move.

I wonder whether management has ever considered conducting a customer survey before imposing such moves on us?

I certainly hope they'll pay due attention to my concerns.

P.K. Kakkar, Tsim Sha Tsui