PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2005, 12:00am

Q Is it appropriate to commercialise the tragic history of Bela Vista Villa?

I am astonished at the suggestion that Bela Vista Villa may be transformed into a so-called 'charcoal-burning' museum. What is the purpose of the 'museum'? What will be 'exhibited' or 'promoted' in the museum? Will it be the procedures and equipment for committing suicide by burning charcoal? Will there be any education or recreation value like other museums in the city?

More worrying is that such a suicide museum will convey the wrong message to citizens, particularly youngsters. The museum would definitely 'glorify' all forms of suicide as a simple and normal way to end life. It would certainly generate a 'copycat' effect in the community, resulting in more tragedies.

Besides, we never have any dedicated venues for displaying spirit-related issues. Will it be feasible to convert the Bela Vista Villa into a 'town' with the theme of myths and urban legends? Will it really attract tourists and local visitors? Will the revenue from patrons be substantial?

There is no doubt the idea is ridiculous, unacceptable and an absolute waste of money.

Fok Chun-kit, Mongkok

Q Are the city's pay-TV channels good value?

Suppose there were a new weekly gossip magazine only sold by news vendors in Hong Kong Island and nowhere else. Readers in Kowloon and the New Territories would not be able to easily purchase issues. Would this new magazine survive long? No. Its business plan would be a failure as it makes sense to make the publication available to all members of the public through all sales venues, right?

Now apply this situation to HBO, the pay-TV movie channel. Through Cable TV, NOW Broadband TV and Super Sun TV, HBO has potentially 100,000 possible customer households. Starting next year, HBO will be available only through NOW Broadband TV, which has only a third of the subscriber numbers, and this availability is exclusive for the next nine years.

Doesn't HBO stand to lose a large number of customers? How much must NOW have to pay HBO for this exclusive deal and at the same time ensure HBO doesn't lose money too (over nine years)? Does it make sense as a good business plan? This applies to pay-TV operators HBO, Cinemax and Star Movies. Why would they all want fewer customers?

It angers me that I, and thousands of other Hongkongers, seem to have fewer and fewer choices when it comes to entertainment.

Harry Chen, Mei Foo Sun Chuen

On other matters...

I am very disappointed with the lighting that the Bank of China tower has adopted for the past few months. This building is one of the best examples of contemporary architecture in Hong Kong, if not the world, which used to be gracefully lit with floodlights to emphasise its geometry and 'simple complexity'.

Now, it is lit with white neon lights more befitting the signs of a Wan Chai girlie bar. Not only that, they flicker and flash all night like some cheap amusement park. I can only imagine the horror on the face of I. M. Pei when he sees what the owners of the building have done to his iconic landmark.

I know that the lighting is now part of the Symphony of Lights, but I think that at other times, the owners should reconsider the lighting and realise that true beauty doesn't need gaudy advertising.

Steven Chow, Wan Chai

We would like to respond to Mr John Wilson's letter (Talkback, July 13) regarding train operators not being required to step outside the train to perform platform duty.

Since 2003, MTR train operators have gradually switched to looking at CCTV images on a screen in the driver's cab to monitor the status of train and platform doors, as well as the situation on train platforms. This arrangement has proved to be just as effective as having the driver step outside of the cab, but carries the added benefits of enabling more efficient train operations and shorter journey times for passengers.

Mr Wilson referred to an incident in July when a train operator failed to observe that the platform screen doors had malfunctioned, which resulted in them not opening. This was an isolated case caused by human error. To prevent similar occurrences in future, the corporation is conducting a thorough review of the incident and looking to strengthen training to enhance and improve the alertness of train operators while they are on duty.

Miranda Leung, Corporate Relations Manager, MTRC

Thirty years ago the sea was full of tropical fish. Hong Kong was a divers' paradise. Now it's 'Wow, freak-out time!' if we are lucky enough to spot a single lonely clown fish swimming in the murky water.

What do we do about it? We allow driftnet fishing off the non-gazetted beaches - catching whatever moves indiscriminately. We allow spearfishing - anything being game. The rod fishermen are no longer catching anything because there is so precious little left. Forget the shellfish - bag it, barbecue it, and let someone else clean up the leftovers dumped on the beach.

It seems the tide is against us. The sea surrounding Hong Kong, which was once teeming with life, is now a murky cesspool full of floating rubbish.

Has time run out? Do we have to lose what we have before we learn to really appreciate it?

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin