PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 12:00am

Q Does Hong Kong need fair-competition legislation?

The only puzzling thing about the debate over property companies forcing owners and tenants to pay for telecoms services they don't want or don't even use is why is there a debate? It is clearly unethical, underhanded and anti-competitive - even if it was mentioned in the property sales brochures. It should be made illegal as soon as possible.

It is another fine example of Hong Kong's 'free' market - free meaning free for the handful of men and their families who control it. The rest of us are just fodder spread in the feeding trough for the fat ones to gorge on. The outbursts by Sir Gordon Wu when some brave souls questioned his proposed demolition of the heart of Wan Chai to build a gigantic hotel is another example of just how these people assume they have the right to do whatever they want.

For decades these people have carved up business in Hong Kong as they choose, by taking advantage of the democratic deficit that exists. Their near monopolies on power, telecoms, property, buses and supermarkets are a shameful testament to one of the most successfully peddled myths the world has seen - that Hong Kong is a free economy and that government keeps out of business.

This sick joke has gone on too long. With the (painfully slow) advance of democracy it is to be hoped that the monopolistic grip of these families will be loosened and that business will really become free in Hong Kong. But don't hold your breath.

Roy Prouse, Stanley

On other matters ...

I must respond to Edmond Fok's letter of September 24 on behalf of the Commissioner for Transport in response to my letter (September 11) concerning recent pedestrian deaths on our roads.

The Transport Department claims it is not ignoring these grim statistics and is doing enough to stem this carnage. I disagree.

For a start, I would ask him how many members of the Road Safety Council are non-drivers of cars or other motor vehicles? I suggest that few, if any, members of this council truly represent the interests of pedestrian groups and people who do not drive. So long as the government only listens to the lop-sided views of drivers and transport industry representatives, the pedestrian will never get a fair deal in Hong Kong.

Mr Fok tells us with pride how a city-wide campaign on road safety has been launched 'targeting pedestrians and particularly senior citizens'. That's right, go for the easy option and target and prosecute defenceless soft targets ... the elderly, who are unable to organise themselves into powerful lobby groups like the motor trade.

Have you ever asked yourself, Mr Fok, why the elderly take such risks when trying to cross a road in a built-up area? It is out of sheer frustration at having to walk long distances to controlled crossings or climb up and down the staircases of bridges and subways.

Additionally, when the lights change in favour of pedestrians they get only a few short seconds to cross before the lights once again change for several minutes in favour of the traffic. Always, always drivers first, pedestrians' considerations last!

We all know how the police hide behind lamp posts to catch motorists speeding on expressways, but how often are motorists caught and prosecuted for speeding in busy pedestrianised streets?

Mr Fok, your stated aim of achieving 'zero [pedestrian] accidents on our roads' will not happen unless you are willing to confront the selfish and often aggressive behaviour of drivers and also give priority in streets back to people rather than cars.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

I write to express my gratitude to the police and the 999 emergency service, Government Flying Service, Fire Service and the medical service, in no particular order.

On September 26, I took an underestimated challenge to descend what seemed to be an easy slope near Discovery Bay's lookout shelter. Without proper climbing gear or equipment, I ventured down the slope and got deeper into the thick undergrowth. Without thinking about any danger, I arrived at a steep slope where I accidentally slipped, sprained my ankle and slid about 10 metres down.

In panic, I called 999. Within minutes I received return calls from the police, Fire Services Department and Government Flying Service to pinpoint my exact location and to provide me with assurances that help was on the way.

Additional questions were asked about my medical condition and whether I needed special attention. Throughout the ordeal, the police and fire service maintained constant communication to reassure me they were on their way. This had a calming effect which boosted my morale.

The police, firemen and ambulance arrived at the scene within about 15 minutes of my call and immediately launched a search party.

Five minutes later, the flying service helicopter hovered above and spotted me. Everything happened so quickly, like a Hollywood action movie, and before I knew it I was winched out of danger within 30 minutes of my first call and was transferred to the waiting ambulance.

The medical team administered first aid and performed a medical check-up, which again exhibited a high level of professionalism.

After attending to my wounds and satisfied that I was not in any medical danger nor needing hospital treatment, the ambulance took me to the bus station for my journey home. I have seen the very best of people in their loyal devotion to the call of duty and service. The Hong Kong public is extremely fortunate to have the best of Hong Kong's pride.

Steven Tam, Lantau