Q Is the two-month fishing ban the best way to protect stocks?
We cannot believe that the government is now thinking of abandoning the proposed moratorium on fishing in Hong Kong waters.
It is now proposing to obtain fishermen's support for a licensing system in order to gain a better understanding of how many and what types of fishing boats are active in our waters. How sad that common sense will not prevail in this instance.
Surely both the fishermen and the government realise the size of the catches in our waters has diminished to the point where the only use for whatever is caught is as food for the fish farms. Both these communities know what has been the consequences of excessive fishing and poor fishery management over the past decades.
If they are unable to do so, then look at what happened to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. We hope this is not another example of mere lip service to the conservation messages contained in our chief executive's policy address.
The government has a responsibility to the present generation and future generations of Hong Kong fishermen and the community at large to institute appropriate steps now to avoid irreparable damage. Time is running out.
Eric Bohm, WWF Hong Kong
I see the government is planning to scrap the two-month fishing moratorium to persuade fishermen to accept a fishing licence system. So, to put in place a system designed to conserve fish stocks, which, under the present proposals, is flawed, full of loopholes and impossible to police, the government will be allowing even more overexploitation of fish stocks in the sensitive breeding season. Brilliant!
Any initiative to conserve fish stocks must have the support of fishermen; however, experience around the world has shown that, first, fishermen consistently underestimate the diminution of fish stocks in their waters and, second, after an initial period of often vociferous objections, the fishing community can be persuaded to support the measures to produce a long-term sustainable fisheries industry, which is what we all want.
Taking strong action that will produce long-term sustainability is not 'anti-fishermen'; it is exactly the reverse.
The alternative to taking timely, effective measures to conserve fish stocks can be seen in the history of the cod fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland, where government ignored the scientific evidence, believed the fishermen's anecdotal evidence that the fish would 'last forever' and, by inaction, destroyed the once great fishing industry.
David Newbery, Friends of Hoi Ha
Q Is a heliport on the Wan Chai waterfront a good idea?
I work in Central and used to take helicopter rides at Fenwick pier with my friends or with my family. Now that the heliport has been closed for a year or so, there is really no special way to enjoy a quick trip around Hong Kong.
Name and address supplied
Q How should we persuade graduates not to take jobs abroad?
First of all, let me thank your reporter Patsy Moy for finally reporting on a problem for us physiotherapists.
The major reason for graduates not choosing to work in Hong Kong is that it's extremely hard to get a job here. The Hospital Authority is recruiting only a few fresh graduates each year compared with the huge number of graduates (150) two years ago.
Working in the private sector is horrible. People may earn only $6,000 as basic income, then have to rely on commissions, where you have to sell your service to your clients; this is particularly common in old age homes. If you work in the private old age homes, the ratio for physiotherapist to the elderly is about 1 to 50-100.
Beside, when it comes to cutting costs, we're always the first to have a wage deduction, but when budgets increase, we'll be the last profession to have an increase in manpower or salary. Doctors have complained about not having extension of contracts after the first three years' training in the Hospital Authority. For us, we don't even have a single day of training with the authority after graduation.
Moreover, we're the least popular professionals in hospitals. The best example for this is during the Sars outbreak, everyone paid tribute to doctors and nurses, but no one remembered that my colleagues had to carry out chest physiotherapy, which included suctioning of the sputum, a very high-risk procedure.
Q How can the government tackle the public laundry problem?
To tackle the problem, the government should provide more drying areas on public estates. Asking people not to dry clothes in public areas when they have nowhere else to do so will not solve the problem. However, the government may make laws to punish those people who dry their clothes in public areas, in the same way people are punished for throwing litter in the street.
Officials should take action to solve this problem as soon as possible.
Yiu Pun Wai, Kwun Tong
On other matters ...
The extensive media coverage on finding red ants in the territory and the high-profile overreactions by government officials reminded me of another press report two weeks ago, in which the government was going to introduce a demerit point system against livestock farmers.
Under the proposed system, demerit points would be registered against a farm licence if mosquitoes or rats were found on a farm. If a licensee accumulates a certain number of points, the government would automatically revoke his licence for keeping livestock.
I must first declare that I have no interest in livestock farming but, as a citizen, I find this scheme absolutely tyrannical. Until government can demonstrate to us that there is an effective and practical way to ensure mosquitoes and rats are kept out of the territory, how can it require a pig farmer to do so in his pig sties?
It simply and clearly reflects the irrational approach by the government in dealing with problems by 'chopping off one's toes to avoid a worm' at the expense of citizens' livelihood.
If health chief York Chow [Yat-ngok] really wants to push ahead with this scheme, the public should demand a reciprocal scheme for Dr Chow and his officials.
If mosquitoes, rats, fire ants, or whatever health-threatening pests are found in a community, demerit points will be registered against the officer responsible for environmental hygiene in that community, his supervisors and up to his department director and Dr Chow himself.
If they accumulate a certain number of points, they lose their own livelihood - their jobs - automatically. This is only fair.
W. Mui, Kwun Tong
For those who opted to stay in the comfort of their homes to watch the Chinese New Year parade, which claimed to be an international event, it was a very big disappointment.
First, the only channel that covered the event was a Chinese-language channel. The biggest spoiler of all was the incessant yakking of the commentators during every performance, making it virtually impossible for anyone to hear the music played by the bands and the tunes being performed.
Was it necessary for them to even talk that much when the event was not a radio broadcast but a television broadcast, where obviously one can see what's going on?
When will Hong Kong learn that for it to make a claim to be an international destination, it should be able to market itself and its so-called international events to reach a wider audience.
S. Pyke, Mid-Levels
Recently I experienced difficulty in reporting a failed water main in Chungking Mansions to the Water Supplies Department. A 50mm water main running from Block A to Block B at roof level developed a serious leak and water began cascading down the building.
I reported it to the building management but as I have little or no faith in this group of people, I decided to report the matter to the Water Supplies Department. I could see that the severe leak was due to the water main being badly rusted from the outside of the pipe and feared that the pipe could break completely and cause considerable damage.
At the front of the Hong Kong telephone directory I found on the pages headed 'useful telephone numbers' a phone number for water supplies, 2824 5000. The number is listed as a 24-hour line for complaints and general inquiries.
The phone is answered with a recorded message and after making my choice of the three languages offered, I then had to listen for a further seven options, which included non-emergency issues such as new accounts, billing, meter readings and general inquiries.
The final option gave me access to a staff member who advised me that since the broken main was within the property boundary, it was for the property management team to shut down the water main and repair the pipe. This is reasonable and I accepted the ruling.
What I consider to be unreasonable is the single hotline number that lists non-emergency services with emergency services. Surely the Water Supplies Department could afford a separate telephone line for the reporting of broken water mains. What if the incident had been a 200mm main in a street or alleyway in a low-lying area; the extra time involved in reporting through the existing channels could result in serious flooding and unnecessary damage to property. I hope that the Water Supplies Department improves its service in this regard.
Clement Browne, Tsim Sha Tsui