talk back

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am

Q Should lorries be banned in Fairview Park?

I was appalled by the recent tragic accident in Fairview Park and I am amazed that lorries can seemingly drive anywhere in Hong Kong without restriction.

There doesn't seem to be a law banning lorries from small village roads; if there is, it isn't enforced. Also in rural areas the roads are often in a poor condition: too narrow, badly surfaced and with no pavements for pedestrians.

I live in a village with very narrow roads and no pavements either side, and lorries constantly use these roads even where the track is very narrow. Apparently there is some kind of factory at one end of the village which puzzles me. There are many children and old people living in the village who are at risk from these vehicles. In fact, our village also experienced a tragic accident recently: a boy fell off his bicycle and was run over by a rubbish truck metres away from my house and in full view of his sibling.

I think vehicles of a certain size should be banned from these narrow roads. Another possibility would be to add pavements where possible. Beyond my house there is no proper road, only a dirt track, but in front of my house I often see lorries speeding by which are so big that they knock the branches off our fruit tree at the side of the path. The field in front of my house has been turned into a truck park, which is quite an eyesore.

In other countries, trucks are parked in a proper truck park overnight and not in residential areas. Unlike the situation at Fairview Park, there has been no protest by residents in our village, but I wish the government would do something to protect the safety of pedestrians, particularly children.

Mary Lee, Fanling

Q What do you think of the border controls on mainland mothers?

I regard the HK$39,000 charge on mainland women who want to give birth in Hong Kong as grossly inadequate.

The administration has not given enough thought to the issue. The price tag of investment migration to Hong Kong is HK$6 million. Yet HK$39,000 now guarantees permanent residency to the children of mainland women.

The penalty for giving birth to a second child on the mainland is 100,000 to 200,000 yuan, I believe. Again, the charge is a great discount compared to the mainland penalty.

These 'mainland' babies also have free schooling, medical and all social benefits in Hong Kong. It is estimated it costs HK$3 million to raise a child to maturity here.

Therefore, to be fair to taxpayers, a fee of between HK$3 and HK$6 million per 'mainland' birth would be reasonable.

Ferdinand Chu, Happy Valley

Q What do you think about shops not accepting small coins?

Small change is legal tender and banks should accept it without charge. Banks are contributing to the problem by discouraging shopkeepers from accepting change as part-payment for goods because the bank charges will eat into their bottom lines. A minimum charge of HK$50 may not sound a lot, but it's another hassle for those shops operating on shoestring budgets and further inconvenience for us as we have to carry small change around.

Terry Ridgley, Lantau

Q What do you think of the class-size findings?

Size doesn't matter! If class sizes have no significant impact on students' learning attitudes and performance, does this mean it would not harm students even if schools expanded to jumbo size classes similar to those in private tutorial institutes?

Like many people educated in Hong Kong, I attended a few private tutorials when I was still a student.

These classes accommodated hundreds of students, and students probably gained nothing more than lecture notes and examination hints.

The class size finding is an 'interim' finding only and the research into the issue is continuing.

Wouldn't it be more appropriate for the government to release its findings only when the research is completed and the data collected is representative enough to avoid surprising us?

Franco Pang, Kwai Chung

On other matters...

The Road Safety Council's commandeering of the airwaves in tunnels to offer inane driving advice or to warn of wet roads is annoying and counterproductive. In the event of an emergency, their silly announcements, which I suspect cause most motorist to turn off their radios, ensure nobody will hear a truly important announcement until too late. The ability to override the airwaves to send an important message to motorists should not continue to be abused by the council.

Jeffrey Sweet, Sai Kung

A place like Hong Kong needs people to hold up a mirror to itself in the form of satire, and Daniel Clarke and his spoof news website, HK Copy News ('Shooting from the lip', Life, February 8) is filling that role - as does that other party, Hemlock, who's been going along in this vein for some time. But one misses the hilariously scathing publication Spike, which sadly folded two years ago because not enough people had a sense of humour and feelings of support.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

The photo of the girl making paper flowers for the Victoria Park fair ('Charity comes before business at New Year fair,' Tuesday) made me sad. Because Hong Kong has succeeded in practically wiping out most of its natural beauty, people resort to making ersatz blooms to give away.

There was another picture the other day of a mother taking her child through a park planted with plastic and paper cartwheels. It made me wonder how people can happily grow up without walking through fields of grass and flowers and sheltering under trees. But I guess if all they know is concrete, plastic and paper, they think they're not missing anything.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau