PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am

Q How can the growth in new HIV infections be reversed?

Growth in HIV figures will be reversed when people stop making mistakes. The emphasis has to be on people cannot become HIV positive sexually unless they have sex with an infected partner.

Pushing condoms at people gives the message of sex first and then hope that nothing goes wrong with the condom. But condom logic has devastated those who have made mistakes. Only the mistakes fuel HIV figures. Not knowing the health status of your sex partner opens the whole society to more HIV cases.

Only by emphasising absolute safety and people valuing their own health can the HIV figures decline, an unlikely development short-term in a society increasingly demanding sex.

Gordon Truscott, Tin Shui Wai

Q Should phones and PDAs be banned from examinations?

In the case of suspected cheating, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority is liable for not taking reasonable care in citing the source of exam materials, which provided an obvious route, an internet address, for candidates to check the answers online.

The official conclusion upon the report is also problematic. It is reported that one person accessed the site by mobile phone twice, with the first time being for about 14 minutes.

The authority's secretary-general, Peter Hill, then made the hasty conclusion that the time the mobile user spent on the website appeared too great for that person to have done it while sitting the exam. Has he considered the possibility that a candidate may have accessed the site in a toilet and left the connection on when he went back to the examination hall?

It is further reported that four people accessed the site through a desktop computer during the examination. The examination authority then ruled out the possibility that cheating was involved in the four cases. But a candidate might have used a mobile to call someone at home or school and asked him to check the website for answers in a desktop computer.

There might be more than one candidate who communicated to each of the desktop computer users. So the suspected case numbers may not be limited to four. I also believe that there are many methods to access the site without disclosing the true IP address of the user, such as by relaying.

Accordingly, there could have been more than five people visiting the website from Hong Kong during that period. The authority should have taken precautions to keep candidates from accessing mobile phones and other communication devices.

The simplest way is by the use of metal detectors.

Although there is no strong and definite evidence that someone has cheated during the examination by accessing the website, the examination authority should at least apologise for its negligence in the arrangements which, in combination, might have potentially facilitated candidates to cheat in exams.

Nigel Lee, Aberdeen

Q How can Hong Kong be turned into a cycling-friendly city?

To make Hong Kong cycling-friendly, the public must have a convincing incentive.

We consume far too much fuel in vehicles. Everywhere around the world, substituting motorised transport with cycling has reduced fuel consumption and improved air quality.

Once our government and society begin to realise this is the real issue, minor inconveniences caused by the promotion of cycling will become insignificant.

The biggest obstacle to turning Hong Kong into a cycling-friendly city is not its hilly terrain but road safety. Narrow and busy streets cited by the Transport Department in its recent cycling study report as a reason not to promote cycling is short-sighted and people generally lack an understanding of the big picture. The switch to non-motorised transport has to be made one day, and there is no real choice, only a matter of time.

The very moment when everyone is prepared to make the switch, many of our city's problems would disappear.

K.W. Yan, Quarry Bay

On other matters...

Grow up, R. Westcott (Talkback, Tuesday). 'Gweilos' generally still, despite the handover, enjoy a privileged position compared with the average citizen, in terms of salaries and social status.

The term 'gweilo' is not seen as offensive by most 'gweilos' because that is not how it is meant. My Chinese wife often refers to me as a 'gweilo', as do most of her family. When she is upset with me, that is not a term that she would use!

Racism is quite different. It does exist, unquestionably, but not to the extent that those who go looking for it will claim!

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

I booked two tickets to Rome via London with a British Airways anniversary offer. In the past, we were issued paper tickets but now British Airways has shifted consumers to the cheaper alternative with e-ticketing.

On my return, I wanted to change to a direct flight and had to pay an extra $300. With paper tickets previously, one could easily change routes, even after having paid for the tickets.

It seems that consumers are offered less flexibility and rights in being shifted to e-ticketing.

May I add that the young lady who served me was patient and polite, but that did not reduce my disappointment of being charged more for flying a shorter route. Our decision to join BA's anniversary celebrations has left a bitter taste and a warning to all consumers about the decreased flexibility of e-ticketing.

T. C. Ng, Ma Wan