PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should there be more quiet cars on KCR trains?

As a recent newspaper article revealed, Hongkongers' ears are being seriously damaged by MP3 players. The major reason is they pump up the volume to cover the noise in trains.

It is really disturbing to listen to advertisements on trains repeatedly telling us how great products are. We have no choice about accepting this information. Where are our rights? To reduce noise pollution and give respect to passengers, please give us more quiet cars.

Fu Yuen Kei, Kowloon City

I am just another victim of the recently introduced noisy carriages on the KCR. I pay double the fare just to secure a seat with a bit of peace in the first-class compartment but am now bombarded with noise for over 40 minutes as I travel from Sheung Shui to Tsim Sha Tsui East every day. The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation has no right to force us to listen to stuff we don't want to listen to. I can close my eyes but not my ears. It is intruding on my personal space.

If someone argues on the train, I can at least call the captain to sort it out, but I can't do anything with the bloody televisions!

We really have enough noise to bear every day and the KCRC should not put extra on our shoulders (or ears).

Y.Y. Fung, Sheung Shui

On other matters ...

We read with horror last week of the drowning of 11-year-old Jonathan Chin Kin-chun during a Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club sailing course.

Last year, we complained to the sailing school about the severe lack of safety standards and general indifference among staff of the youth sailing course.

Our two sons, aged nine and 11, were enrolled in a week-long youth beginner sailing course in April last year, and we found that the school was poorly managed and neglectful of basic safety.

Like Jonathan, our sons were taken out on dinghies from Middle Island towards Stanley Bay. They complained of a lack of supervision and help from instructors.

At one point, our nine-year-old was left to struggle by himself to get back to Middle Island, although it was his first time sailing and they had only been training two or three days. When we raised this with the school, it was clear not only was the instructor/child ratio shockingly low, but the attitude of the staff was extremely poor - even jaded. The staff's utter lack of interest in the course and cavalier attitude towards the children not only left the children totally disillusioned about sailing, but also left them feeling completely unsafe there.

It is quite clear the yacht club sailing courses are not observing adequate safety standards and the school does not take the matter seriously. The sailing school should be shut until a thorough investigation is conducted to ensure no other child is put in danger or loses his life as a result of the club's lack of professionalism.

Name and address supplied

I am the parent of a three-year-old autistic boy in Hong Kong and have dealt with all types of health officials and medical professionals across several countries - some sympathetic, some condescending - advising me on how to cope with the controversy over vaccinations. I have learnt a few things I hope to share with other parents faced with the same dilemma.

Should you ever come across a government health official or medical professional who tells you that you have no choice but to have your child vaccinated with the triple vaccine MMR to prevent measles, watch out: they are not telling the whole story.

The medical authorities of many countries have mandated, and the World Health Organisation agrees, that all toddlers receive the triple vaccine before entering school.

The Japanese and US governments finally came down on the drug companies a few years ago to remove thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) from the vaccine, because it was determined to be toxic, with possible links to autism. Many drug companies have since replaced it with aluminium, which is equally toxic, until legal court cases force them into taking action again.

The mercury found in vaccines may be small amounts, but its toxicity is relative to bodyweight. Not all children are affected by this preservative, but for some children who are genetically predisposed or sensitive to this poison, the effect on neurodevelopment can be severe.

There is an ongoing debate in the medical profession on what causes autism, and whether mercury poisoning, the measles virus and autism are linked.

This complicated issue has not, as some in the medical profession would have you believe, been settled.

Parents have a legitimate concern for the associated risk of vaccinations, and can contain that risk while obeying the law by:

a) Insisting on single-shot measles vaccinations (available in Hong Kong); or b) Wait until their child reaches age three, when the threat to neurodevelopment is less serious. This is called prudent risk management.

Name and address supplied