PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 12:00am

Q Is the anti-hawking crackdown against maids justified?

I don't condone the illegal selling of wares, but the reasons maids want to sell these items does raise a few points worth considering.

Firstly, there seem to be no flea markets in Hong Kong where people can sell second-hand items and food. These markets add vibrancy to cities around the world.

If cleanliness is the reason stated by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for the raids, then setting up flea markets could easily control this. The markets would also reduce the pressure on landfills because there would be more ways to get rid of unwanted second-hand goods.

Secondly, I would like to support Eni Lestari's comment that many domestic helpers in Hong Kong do not get paid the minimum salary. The majority of people in this town know that Indonesian helpers are cheaper than Filipino helpers. Why else was there a sudden surge of Indonesians coming to Hong Kong in 1999-2000? I am confident that if police officers are sent to Victoria Park to survey how many domestic helpers are being paid less than the minimum salary, they would be able to arrest many more people - the Hong Kong residents ripping innocent people off - than the 11 picked up for hawking.

I ask you, which crime is worse?

Sandy Edge, Tin Hau

Q Were West Rail chiefs irresponsible in not announcing train delays sooner?

I have been following the KCRC's West Rail affair and I think the recent chaos caused by train delays is a typical example of the KCRC's bad management.

They have spent so much and say they have built the most expensive rail system in the world. And yet the trains keep on failing to operate properly, despite nine months of testing the system before opening.

West Rail is a white elephant and it will be written off in Hong Kong history as such. The fate of West Rail will not change even if Kowloon Southern Link is built.

The problem with West Rail is planning. The KCRC put the stations in the wrong place from day one. Nam Cheong is in the middle of nowhere and Mei Foo cannot serve as a pick-up point for MTR passengers who intend to go the New Territories.

MTR passengers in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok travel on the Tsuen Wan line then take buses to Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. It is cheap and much faster than changing at Mei Foo.

Looking back, how on Earth the KCRC got it so wrong is quite beyond comprehension. One can only blame its leaders at that time - $46 billion was spent on building a system that is under-utilised. The KCRC said it was only running at half-capacity. The reality speaks for itself.

The KCRC said it would invite an expert to look into the system. One asks what happened to all those experts who were used to put the system together. Why on Earth did the KCRC employ them in the first place? How many experts does the KCRC want to bring in to prove to the public that the system is reliable? Bringing in these experts is just a deception.

Name and address supplied

Q Should the URA and officials be forced to keep their promise to protect Wedding Card St?

Referring to your articles on Wedding Card Street and Wan Chai, I would like to share this observation with you.

Would the URA please take its greedy eyes off Wan Chai and instead focus on one of the many decaying areas in Hong Kong crying out for urban renewal. Wan Chai is not one of them. This is an interesting and well-maintained area of shops and homes, of interest to both tourists and locals alike.

Some of the buildings around Wedding Card Street are only seven years old and do not need urban renewal. I don't want to live in the URA's vision of a future leisure, shopping, residential and commercial complex, of boring shiny steel and concrete structures. I prefer to live in the community which is Wan Chai today.

I can only assume that this particular redevelopment is driven, like most things in Hong Kong, by money and greed, and that the URA can generate more money by redeveloping this area instead of other areas, in say, Kowloon.

But who are they doing it for? The developers? The government? Themselves? Certainly not the residents of Wan Chai who don't appear to have been consulted!

John Murray, Wan Chai

On other matters...

One of the charms of Hong Kong is riding the MTR and seeing the occasional courier transporting small goods, or even a large bouquet of flowers, at off-peak times. A very sensible use of the MTR indeed.

But the couriers have now started travelling in packs, sitting on the floor with their bags, wearing their company-logo polo shirts and making it difficult for those of us without a seat to find secure footing. I recently asked one of six couriers wearing the Top Gun Courier Service uniform to stop doing his paperwork while sitting on the floor using his bag for a desk.

He was very rude, ignored me and neither he nor his bag rose until he disembarked four stations later. When I complained to the MTR customer service and gave them the courier company's name the answer was : 'Ah yes, the couriers.'

I'm confused. If the MTR is banning bicycles because they are a hazard, then why are the gangs of uniformed couriers being allowed to put their bags and themselves on the train floors obstructing the passageways with impunity?

Name and address supplied