PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should children be allowed back onto racecourses

It is unfortunate that Talkback writer Fok Chun-kit is out of touch with reality.

He claims that horse racing is purely for gambling, so children should not be allowed at racecourses (Talkback, September 7).

Once or twice a year, I make my way to the racetrack, but not for gambling (because I am hopeless at choosing a horse that will even place). Instead, I watch as the tote board ticks over, grab a snack at the many kiosks, get some sun and look on in wonder as the majestic four-legged creatures trot past on their way to the starting gates, stand in awe as they race down the home stretch and cover my ears at the thunderous roar of the crowd.

Riding a horse is almost an impossibility in Hong Kong, so to be able to be near one while at the racetrack is a treat.

The same can apply for small children.

When the HKJC held 'family days' in the past, it put up signs banning youngsters from going near the gambling areas. There were enough other things for children to do to be entertained anyway.

If, as Mr Fok asserts, horse racing is purely for gambling and should be kept away from children, then he should have no objection if Donald Tsang bans it from being shown on free terrestrial television altogether, and moves its broadcast to a pay-per-view channel like adult porn movies.

G. Marques, Mei Foo Sun Chuen

On other matters ...

I felt sad reading the news about a teacher-couple committing suicide. For one thing, I am a teacher myself; for another, lives are wasted.

The very fact that we as teachers are looked up to by students means that we have to bear a special responsibility to society.

We teachers must have self-discipline in front of students, and in our private life.

Anson Yang, Chai Wan

Journalists and television stations are not the only people who are vindictive towards Tung Chung, as outlined in a letter in your Talkback column by Y. Chan (September 6). Even the Transport Department is turning a blind eye to the progress of Tung Chung as a commuter destination.

KCR provides free shuttles from Tsim Sha Tsui for smooth transfer to West Rail. MTR is not providing such services to help passengers at Tsim Sha Tsui catch trains from Kowloon Station or even Olympic Station and save precious commuting time to Tung Chung. Why such discrimination to commuters to Tung Chung?

G. Sonia, Tsim Sha Tsui

As oil prices soar all over the world and Hong Kong's franchised bus operators are keen to introduce fuel surcharges, I do not see any point in the Transport Department setting a fuel-wasting bus route like the R8.

I am not saying the R8 is a waste of fuel because of its unpopularity. The route is indeed very popular, as bus passengers for the new Disneyland Resort from the New Territories and urban areas can interchange at the Lantau Link toll plaza. However, I say the way the R8 is arranged as a circular route is very inefficient.

Starting off from Disneyland, it picks up and drops off passengers at Inspiration Lake, then it calls at the Tsing Yi-bound platform at the Lantau Link bus interchange station, dropping off all passengers heading away from Lantau. Then, the empty buses are sent to pick up passengers for Disneyland at its opposite platform at Lantau Link bus interchange next. So it has to cross the Kap Shui Mun and Tsing Ma bridges and turn round on Tsing Yi before crossing the same bridges in the opposite direction to approach the other side of the bus interchange.

The arrangement means that each empty R8 has to go an extra 6km, more than three times the distance of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. I would like to call for a cut in fuel-wasting by rerouting the bus by either taking (or introducing) a short-cut between the two platforms at Lantau Link interchange or call (pick up and drop off passengers) at Tsing Yi.

Dennis Chun-yin Ho, Hunghom

Regarding the recent article in the City section on the making of bean curd, I was most interested in the photograph of the worker in Shamshuipo, at 2am, making the day's supply.

Wearing a pair of shorts and no shirt, pouring the beans into a grinder surrounded by grimy walls and equipment that looks like it has been there since they began making bean curd 40 years ago, I was struck by how the article made no mention of hygiene.

Yes, this is Hong Kong, and this is the way such products have been made for decades, but is this a photograph of a licensed food factory?

The tiles on the grinding machine were black with dirt. I can just imagine what the floor looks like. Are people happy that the food they eat comes from such premises? It may taste good, but in 2005, should such a place be tolerated in Hong Kong?

Although this is only one photograph of one factory, I know that there are hundreds of other such premises in the city.

The government is rightly concerned about the quality of the food we import from across the border. How about that prepared in our own backyard?

Name and address supplied

We refer to the letter from Annelise Connell of Clear the Air on August 30.

KMB has been at the vanguard of the adoption of environmental measures in Hong Kong, pioneering the Eco-Driveline system, which it has developed in tandem with manufacturers.

A standard feature on all new KMB buses since 2003, this innovative system delivers enhanced fuel economy and improved emissions performance.

Regarding older buses, the full retrofit programme to install catalytic converters on all pre-Euro I buses was completed in 2002, significantly in advance of the 2006 date laid down by law. At the other end of the spectrum, KMB has since 2003 (three years before the 2006 requirement) introduced buses achieving emissions close to Euro IV standards, achieved by using available technologies to combine the Euro III engine and a continuously regenerating trap. Today, nearly 500 KMB buses operate at this high standard.

KMB will maintain its close contact with manufacturers and suppliers in terms of the development of different environment-friendly measures, including fuel-saving and emission-reduction devices, as well as alternative fuels and power sources.

Susanne Ho, KMB