talk back

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2005, 12:00am

Q At what age should children be given sex education?

Children around the age of eight or who are in Primary Three should be taught. At this age, they become more curious about the facts of life from messages in television programmes, movies and magazines.

The media uses sex to attract audiences but it also distorts the facts. Early teaching of correct sex information will help children understand and protect themselves better. This should be done earlier rather than later.

Shek Lam-na, Tseung Kwan O

I don't think it is a matter of setting an age limit, but children must be taught by the time they reach adolescence. Many parents are still too embarrassed to teach their children about sex. At the same time, children also feel self-conscious when they ask their parents about sex. They prefer talking about it with friends because they share the same curiosity.

I am a teenager who was never taught about sex at home. But I have never felt embarrassed to ask my parents questions about sex. I think parents must take the time to communicate with their children before they reach their teens. We cannot only depend on teachers for sex education. Parents should be our friends, and in this role, try to provide sex education.

Name and address supplied

Q Are five demerit points sufficient for running a red light?

Imposing a harsher penalty is not the only way to tackle this problem.

Everybody knows that running a red light is hazardous and that there is a legal responsibility in case of a traffic accident. I strongly believe most road users in Hong Kong know the 'Safety First' principle.

However, the traffic light system is not well designed. It lacks a signal to show that the lights are going to change (except a very short amber light) and drivers cannot anticipate when the green light will switch.

When a driver is driving quickly, he needs to slam on the brakes. Or he could be overly cautious and slow down way before the lights.

Apparently, both options are inconvenient for drivers.

Before implementing harsher punishments, I think the government should look at some cities on the mainland, where traffic lights have green light countdown displays. This helps drivers avoid running red lights. If these don't work, then heavier fines can be imposed.

Fok Chun-kit, Mongkok

On other matters...

I suspect few would argue that pets do have some positive roles in our society and that equally they also play very negative roles.

The purpose of public transport is to carry the public, that is, people, however smelly.

I own 3,000 very likable, clean, tame sheep but rightly I do not expect to be allowed to travel with them on public transport.

I suspect that if a recent correspondent of yours and their friends had their way, we would meet on the MTR not only the Discovery Bay 'fragrance free' pooches but personality crocs, friendly cows from Lantau, lovable boisterous monkeys from Tai Po, not to mention families of well-behaved Mid-Levels kittens, cages of healthy mainland chickens and the occasional visiting sty of rather intelligent cloned pigs.

All of this could do wonders for tourism and perhaps the MTR would introduce a Disney-themed petting zoo on those uncrowded Tung Chung line trains.

Christopher Woodward, Auckland, New Zealand

I am writing to ask the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to seriously consider lifting the ban against dogs at some closed beaches and parks.

Poor water quality at some beaches poses a threat to swimmers. A relaxed policy, allowing dogs on these beaches, would not harm swimmers, because they wouldn't swim in the water anyway.

Those who do not wish to see dogs on the beach could have their pick of the many other beaches. In this way, some parks in urban areas could also be opened to dogs.

Should there be reservations about these proposals, the leisure department could restrict entry to certain hours.

I would suggest opening parks to dogs after 8pm or 9pm to start with. At such a late hour in the day, the disturbance, if any, to others would be minimal.

I also don't think the implementation of such a policy would incur too many extra resources.

Such a policy, with appropriate regulations such as keeping large dogs on a leash and clearing up after them, would allow pet owners to enjoy the public spaces their taxes pay for.

Most importantly, pets do not only help our economy, they are also good for our mental and physical health.

With such a low number of injuries and accidents caused by dogs, it seems ridiculous that there are so many restrictions imposed on them.

Times have changed a lot. Look around. Our children are educated to love nature, including plants and animals; the number of pet owners keeps increasing; commercials with pets in them are shown on television every day; and more and more pet welfare organisations are being established. In short, pets have become a part of local families and their lives.

I would suggest, if legally possible, implementing a tentative plan as soon as possible. A subsequent policy review could be set and information collected to provide for any modifications that may be necessary.

In the end, the requests are simple: open up beaches and allow people to walk their dogs in parks. Is this too much to ask?

Sanna Lee, Tseung Kwan O

In the article 'Shark fin stays on menu for government banquets' (July 24), a spokeswoman for environment chief Sarah Liao Sau-tung is quoted as saying sharks are not listed as an endangered species.

This statement is incorrect.

A number of shark species are listed under Hong Kong's endangered species legislation, because they are also listed under the Treaty for Control of International Trade in Endangered Species. These include the whale, basking and great white sharks.

This fundamental error and the attitude of Dr Liao and the Environmental Protection Department to the very proper suggestion that the government might just for once lead by example and ban shark's fin from banquets are symptomatic of the ignorance of the EPD on conservation matters.

Neither the environmental department nor the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has a track record of actively conserving or protecting our environment.

They lack any real interest in doing so - for example, no steps have been taken to stop local fishermen using destructive fishing methods - and seem determined to maintain the status quo.

Brian Baillie, Mui Wo

I'd like to reply to Miranda Leung of the MTR Corp (July 20) about the building of the West Island Line.

It is certainly wonderful that the West Island Line is going to be built. However, it is sad that the Sheung Wan Station has not been considered as a possible interchange between the extended Island Line and the future South Island Line (West).

Sheung Wan Station is extremely close to Central and our business centre and making it the interchange would shorten travelling times, helping the economy and tourism.

Also, another place for trains, the Rumsey Tiny Platform, has already been built. Making this part of the interchange would lower construction costs.

With these two points in mind, surely the benefit of making Sheung Wan the interchange must be gargantuan.

Luna Chan, Tai Koo Shing