PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should building inspections be compulsory every seven years?

Since the beginning of this month, on a daily basis, there have been reports of incidents of aluminium windows falling from flats by the media. Luckily, nobody was killed in these incidents. However, it is surprising that the media have begun to wake up to this kind of accident only recently.

Such reports have sparked the concern of the general public and even relevant government departments on the safety of that kind of window.

To prevent such accidents, it should be mandatory for flat owners to have their aluminium windows inspected at least once a year, and immediately mended if necessary. A heavy penalty, including imprisonment, should be imposed on those who fail to comply with this requirement. I favour tough penalties for offenders since they serve as a good deterrent.

Take littering as an example. It had been one of the ingrained habits of many members of the public during the past colonial period. But thanks to the introduction of the fixed penalty of $1,500, many litterbugs have seemingly kicked the habit. The improvement of the problem can be seen in the sharp decline in the volume of rubbish dumped by revellers on public holidays.

Thomson Leung Pak-fai, Tuen Mun

On other matters ...

Eating and drinking are not allowed on the MTR. Many still obey this rule but more and more people are beginning to break it.

I was stunned to see five passengers having their snacks or drinks at the same time in the same carriage. It is ridiculous! A woman in her 40s sitting opposite me gave her daughter an almond biscuit and some pieces fell on the floor. She felt nothing and made no effort to pick them up. Two schoolgirls finished up their Taiwanese-style milk tea, and one pupil was having an ice cream.

When he saw me looking at his school badge, he turned around to avoid my attention. His act made me feel frustrated and angry. A young man had two pieces of cake one by one.

Not only had the mother spoiled her child, but she definitively set her a bad example. That's why two schoolgirls and a pupil also felt comfortable eating.

Similar scenes happen day after day. Although it may not be as serious as smoking, it is repugnant.

The MTR should enforce the law. If the penalty is heavy enough, few people will take the risk of breaking the rules.

W.M. Ng, Heng Fa Chuen

The report that broadcaster Robert Chua is starting a Filipino television show ('Employers beware: Filipinos to go on air,' City, July 16) suggests that the 'maids may soon be able to air their bosses' dirty laundry on television'.

I doubt this will happen as a couple of existing weekly Filipino radio programmes don't feature any gossip about employers, with the maids mainly engaging in the harmless activity of phoning in to extend best wishes over the air to their compatriots around the territory.

The proposed Filipino Hour, however, brings to mind that other programme in the late 1980s by the Enjoy Yourself Tonight creator.

It featured a skit called Maria which insulted Filipinos. The skit revolved around a local family with a slovenly Filipino maid (played by a Chinese actress in blackface) made to act like a retarded child who continually rolled her eyes under an untidy black wig.

She was the slack-jawed scatterbrained foreigner who was both the bane of her employers' lives and the butt of their jokes.

Protests in 1988 about the show's racism eventually brought a lame reply from TVB Jade's public relations manager, who claimed they did not mean to offend audiences but merely sought to 'provide light entertainment'.

The show, which went on for several months, would probably not be acceptable in today's more politically correct times - even though Hong Kong still doesn't ban racial discrimination. Yet it doesn't seem all that long ago when locals viewed Filipino women as prostitutes, Indians as smelly, and westerners as 'foreign devils' (the label today being used more in jest).

Mr Chua's proposed programme might be a good attempt to promote racial understanding - a welcome, if belated, move to make amends for that lamentable Maria programme which local audiences once seemed to find hilariously entertaining.

But given the way too many maids are denied leisure time by employers, I don't see them being allowed to relax in front of the television any time during the day.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau