PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should internet service providers help track down file sharers?

Internet service providers (ISPs) should co-operate with law enforcement agencies. But they should not hand over any information to other parties just on their say so. There are important privacy issues involved. If records are requested, then a court order should be sought, and evidence produced.

I think the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is being optimistic in thinking that ISPs will simply hand over information. Sharing copyrighted files is illegal, but the federation should stop being a paper tiger and show it means business.

I'm sure it is planning to prosecute one or two or three people as examples. But it says there are tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong believed to be downloading illegally, so it should put action behind its words. Let's see 100 or 200 cases come before the courts, and not just major offenders.

I also wonder how selective the prosecutions will be. Anyone using file-sharing software can be downloading a file, but at the same time uploading the file to many other people. Will everyone connected and sharing that file be prosecuted? I don't think so.

Sure, the person who first offers the file online is committing an offence, but everyone else who is connected is also just as guilty. Sadly, the federation is losing the battle. After years of overpricing CDs, and now restrictions on how the consumer can use legally downloaded songs, people are now using the digital age to their advantage.

Name and address Supplied

Q Is it advisable to build another helipad in Sheung Wan?

I see no reason why the helicopter pad shouldn't be built in Sheung Wan [as proposed by the government]. Of course, concerns about noise pollution shouldn't be neglected but I think the most important thing lies in how flight routes will be designed to mitigate noise pollution it will bring to residents nearby.

However, we should bear in mind that the park is adjacent to the harbour and there are not many residents nearby. Moreover, if the government can promise to build noise absorption devices, it will have a minimum undesirable effect on people.

Building a helicopter port in Wan Chai would help promote the district as a whole.

Name and address Supplied

Q Is the ESF pay scale proposal fair and necessary?

I note with interest the contribution your columnist Kevin Sinclair made to this debate during an online radio programme recently. He defends the proposed remuneration cuts for ESF teachers.

He talked with some degree of passion about the salary cuts his wife endured, and goes on to report about his own remuneration reduction: 'My own pay was cut savagely without warning by 68 per cent. This came as a rude shock.' So his argument is: 'I had to take it, so should everyone else'. Sour grapes, Kevin?

Hoping for a better class of debate.

Mike Hill

A few points an ex-ESF student wishes to contribute to the debate on the new ESF pay scale plan:

1. ESF teachers are employed on attractive terms, whether or not they actually make $947,400. In my time some teachers were good, others weren't so good; some taught out of a genuine love for their subject and a dedication to imparting knowledge, others seemed to only do it for the money.

Julian Harniess [chairman of the Association of Professional Teachers of ESF Schools] has done an injustice to good teachers in making stupid comments like 'they will not be able to afford to stay'.

What he means to say is that those teachers who came to Hong Kong not to teach but to step up the financial ladder will no longer wish to stay. It is these teachers that do not deserve their pay.

2. ESF teachers choose to come to Hong Kong. As M. Hodgson (October 3) correctly points out, for many ESF teachers Hong Kong has become their country too.

However, one wonders who would come to live in a polluted environment like Hong Kong for only $300,000 a year.

Perhaps people who care about Hong Kong. Perhaps people bright enough to choose a career not motivated by what they can earn but what they can give; those who choose to educate students to do something about their environment instead of rebuilding the walls of Babel in the world of finance. Teach us to care and not to care; teach us to sit still.

3. Would the ESF please disclose the package senior ESF executives are on? I trust the ESF is bucking the trend today for 'managers' to be paid substantially more than those who actually provide the service.

4. Is the issue really that ESF teachers are overpaid or rather that other teachers are in general underpaid and undervalued in society? Or are certain other professions overvalued and overpaid? Perhaps the issue is symptomatic of a larger problem.

The ESF had, and I want to believe still has, great teachers: those motivated not by greed but by selflessness; those who teach to impart the greatest of all gifts: knowledge.

Those ESF teachers who I respect would get on with doing something they love, and in doing so would try to address the issue by teaching their charges that life should be about doing a fair day's work for a fair day's wage.

Evan Fowler, Fotan

The ESF has offered an excellent educational system in Hong Kong for many years. The students registered reflect Hong Kong's middle class and a desire to see their children are considered as individuals, have an opportunity to be personally successful and are taught in a most professional manner.

It is a system which should be replicated to replace our woeful public system, rather than denigrated and potentially run down.

The approach of the ESF management to the proposed restructuring has been disruptive for the parents and has caused a drop in morale for teaching staff.

Stephen Anderson, Mid-Levels

Q Do you think Hongkongers have an unhealthy lifestyle?

What did you have for lunch? Most likely, the answer will be some oily fast food or a sandwich or a hamburger.

By eating these foods, how can people have a balanced diet? Some may argue that they do not have enough time to concentrate on their diet.

Most people have to eat their lunch as quickly as they can due to Hong Kong's rapid pace of life. People may understand what is good for their health, but they always give themselves many excuses for not changing their eating habits.

If you are one of these people, do you still think you have a healthy lifestyle?

Name and Address Supplied

On other matters ...

Lamentably, although there are some thriving wet markets in Hong Kong, there are a lot which have been neglected.

So the Chinese Young Men's Christian Association's programme for unemployed people to open businesses in these wet markets (October 3) is welcome, out-of-the-box news.

Fresh food markets are natural magnets for both locals and visitors in many cities of the world.

Why can't Hong Kong modernise them, clean them up, insist on hygiene and cleanliness (call them fresh food markets, local names like 'Electric Road Market' or some name other than wet markets) and show off its famed food - seafood, fruit and vegetables, sweets, as well as arts, crafts and other businesses?

The restaurants associated with them should be spotlessly clean, smoke-free and inviting. There could be modern shops like coffee shops, and traditional tea shops.

Supermarkets have recently become popular, but local markets could easily fight a successful rearguard action. The local communities are rediscovering their identities, and markets could become the heart of the community once again.

It is not as if the 'fresh' food sections of Hong Kong supermarkets and delicatessens pose any great threat. The standards of the produce found there often leave a lot to be desired.

Michael McCaffrey, North Point