Q Has Hong Kong overreacted to the food scares?
If the same thing happened in developed countries, the reaction would be much more serious. China is striving to become a modern and developed country in the world and it should measure up not only in terms of economic development but also in terms of food safety. Instead of grumbling about the stringent requirements of Hong Kong people, mainland fishermen need to heighten their awareness of food safety and improve the quality of their fish.
Though this incident is a strong blow to them, once they really make an effort to ensure food safety, consumer confidence will rebound and the health of people will be protected as a result.
Steve Maxwell, Tung Chung
Q Is it fair to charge mainlanders more for maternity services?
The latest measure by [private hospitals] to raise the cost of giving birth to HK$50,000 is doomed to fail to have the desired effect of curbing the problem. The reasons are not difficult to see. Apart from evading the stringent population controls on the mainland, visitor mothers still consider the higher charge worth it, given the high quality of medical service here. I think most of those choosing to have their babies in Hong Kong are from the affluent cities and that the new charge is in no way prohibitive.
However, this has badly affected the rights and wellbeing of local expectant mothers and stretched further the already thin medical services. The latest proposal to recruit midwives from China has already drawn dissatisfaction from the concerned professional body. Here again is an example of how one bad policy will give rise to others.
Q Should trains have women-only compartments?
Security secretary Ambrose Lee is correct to say no to women-only compartments on trains, but his reasons are wrong. I am aghast at this proposal for the very basic reason that such segregation of the genders would suggest that our society actually believes this is permissible. It would also be a tacit way of saying that women who choose not to use a women-only carriage are asking to be groped.
This is absurd and ridiculous. This is a modern society where women are safe and independent. Let us not regress. Women should also reject the nauseating passivity of face and yell at whoever tries to grope them. Furthermore, the public also needs to support people who are groped, attacked or abused on public transport. It is a public place and they should be safe to challenge such gropers.
As for the idiotic and perverse individuals who grope women on trains, their cowardliness needs to be publicly revealed.
Say no to separate carriages and yes to fighting back.
Walter Bauman, Happy Valley
Q How can people be encouraged to have more children?
It would be great to see an increase in births in Hong Kong. It is such a dynamic city with so much to give that it would be a pity if future generations were to regard having more children as something burdensome and opt for a predictable and comfortable lifestyle by having more dogs instead.
I come from the nearby city-state of Singapore, where for at least two generations the famed slogan was 'Two is enough', and which recently has made an about-turn on this policy. I must say that some readers would think my parents irresponsible for conceiving their third child at the height of the birth regulation in the 1970s, and even immoral - as other readers have opined - to continue and bring the child into the world.
That child is presently contributing to society as a research scientist, happily married to a top-level engineer and finding fulfilment as a mother of three little ones.
She and her family are a support and consolation to my parents in their old age. I shudder to think what we would have all missed if we had really believed two was enough.
Janet Ong Kheng Hwee, Singapore
On other matters...
News that Australia is planning to send 50 water buffalo to the Indonesian province of Aceh to help farmers rebuild their livelihoods after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami suggests a solution to the Lantau water buffalo problem.
Instead of letting the animals wander around, running amok, chewing up plants and defecating all over the street, the powers that be in the Tsang administration should offer them to the good farmers of Aceh.
Surely this provides a more worthwhile, sustainable and environmentally friendly solution, and one that would really be welcomed by Aceh's dispossessed farmers, than rounding up the creatures and killing them as the government has proposed.
Keith Wallis, Tin Hau
I have recently sent several complaints to the government 1823 webpage about damaged road surfaces, black exhaust fumes coming from Citybus vehicles and the uneven road surface at the corner of D'Anguilar and Wellington streets. Within three days I had responses from two of the relevant departments.
It is a pleasant experience, and I would like to credit the Environmental Protection Department and Highways Department for their prompt and sensible responses, and time will tell if they are also effective.
Kin Ng, Kwun Tong