Q What can be done to deter the young from experimenting with drugs?
The young are curious by nature, apt to experiment with something novel and exciting. With peer influence, youngsters sometimes fall prey to drug abuse.
To tackle this long-standing problem, we need to address the root cause. In the mainstream school curriculum, you can hardly find anything relating to the detrimental effects of casual drug use. Teenagers are not given timely and full information on the physiological and psychological traps of drug abuse.
What is more, young people are convinced they have a high degree of self-control. If they underestimate the powerful influence of drugs, they will not hesitate to experiment with them. It is hoped a fuller picture of drug abuse will be given to students in liberal studies classes soon.
Drugs are particularly abundant in pubs, discos, cyber cafes and karaoke lounges that the young frequent.
I often find, to my dismay, there are few commendable pastimes that appeal to youngsters here. As an indirect means to keep our next generation away from drugs, it may also be advisable to introduce more interesting leisure and cultural activities for them.
Jonathan Wong Ka-lap, Tin Shui Wai
On other matters ...
In the September 6 edition of Talkback, Inde Au challenged the MTR Corp's request for property development rights for the Kennedy Town extension of the Island Line.
Actually, there are very solid reasons for providing public support to the line, either through property development rights or by the government covering part of the construction cost.
Extending the MTR to Kennedy Town will lower the unhealthy levels of pollution and excessive noise at street level, cut chronic road congestion and substantially increase property values in catchment areas from Sai Ying Pun to Kennedy Town. The improvements in the quality of life that accrue to society but not to the one who 'creates' them are known as 'external benefits'.
The air quality and road congestion benefits should be well known by now, but perhaps less so the external benefits in the form of land values. Such rises in market value go far beyond what the MTR Corp is asking for in order to make the Kennedy Town extension financially viable. Higher property values, in turn, raise income to government through rates and land premiums. And this is not a mere transfer of value from elsewhere in Hong Kong. Kennedy Town is a prime location whose value has been artificially held down due to road congestion. The rail line will go a long way to removing that limitation.
The logic of providing public support to major transport infrastructure such as railways and roads to realise much greater external benefits is long established globally. Without such support, there would be no urban passenger railways anywhere.
Public road transport would be far scarcer and more costly as road users would have to pay the full costs of building and maintaining the roads, not to mention the health costs of the air pollution generated by road use.
Hong Kong is under-served by rail compared to all other 'world cities'. If the government refuses to pay part of the construction costs for new lines, as every other world city does, then property development rights are essential.
Bill Barron, Institute for the Environment, University of Science and Technology
Last Saturday I visited Ocean Park with my family. The day was great, and we were happy with everything except the rude behaviour of a teenage girl we met. The unpleasant encounter makes me worry about the declining quality of our young generation.
After visiting half of the park we lined up for a down-slope cable car to get to the lower part. In front of us in the line there stood a couple of young lovers, probably secondary school students. A cable car unit can carry six people and we understand that visitors are encouraged to maximise the capacity of each car to shorten the waiting time of other passengers.
Four of us followed the couple into the same car so the car's capacity was not wasted. Clearly the young lady was annoyed by our 'intrusion into their car' (as she claimed), spoiling their sweet private moment. Honestly, we would have been more than willing to respect her wish for privacy by boarding the next car if she had made a request appropriately, if not politely. However, instead of asking us to get off she chose to command and expel us with a raised voice, a pointing finger and fierce curses.
Her uncivilised behaviour shocked us - all the more so because this was done to the elderly - my parents are over 60.
I hope it is just an isolated incident that is not suggestive of the quality of our youth in general, otherwise I doubt whether Hong Kong can sustain its prosperity with a young generation like this.
Joyce Li, Tuen Mun
I wish to thank you for publishing my views on the software amnesty article in yesterday's Talkback.
However, my views were not completely expressed as only a part of my letter was published. Also the sentence 'The body should be able to conduct software audits of member companies' is totally incorrect.
What I wrote was: 'The Business Software Alliance should set up an independent body that is recognised by [the] government ... The body should conduct software audit of all companies in Hong Kong on [an] annual basis'.
This will assure all company directors, owners and staff of software compliance. The cost of this should be borne by the body as ultimately it is the member companies of the Business Software Alliance which will gain from any increase in sales.