Consumer forced to take the initiative
Your columns increasingly report a series of very mixed messages in Hong Kong's faltering steps towards preventing illness and deaths from tobacco.
The news that the Legco health panel recognises the essential need for enforcement of smoke-free policies is reassuring and gives hope that we have at least one champion with the power to underwrite public health protection ('Tougher action sought to enforce smoking ban', June 2).
On the other hand, in response the government asserts that a chemical assault on staff and diners through blatant violation of the legislation will not be a 'priority' for police action.
The secretary for health suggests responsibility for action lies with the hapless consumer and in order to achieve our rights to breathe clean air we should enact an elaborate charade to simulate breathing difficulties ('Non-smokers 'should feign asthma' ', June 7). Leaving aside the fact that people with previously normal health are injured by tobacco smoke, perhaps the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau could now assist these theatrical displays by providing diners with a manual of diagnostic symptoms for the whole spectrum of health problems which are aggravated by tobacco smoke. Should catering workers also rehearse acute attacks of heart and lung disease resulting from breathing dense aerosols of tobacco smoke?
Finally, along with other colleagues in the health sector, I despair at the news that Hong Kong's promotion of its tourism assets is now in the hands of a transnational tobacco company veteran ('He sold cigarettes, now he's selling Hong Kong', June 2).
His skills were honed by selling a product which kills more than half its users, and his previous employer has for years worked to undermine public- health legislation on tobacco control in Hong Kong.
Anthony Hedley, Department of Community Medicine, the University of Hong Kong
Family values must come first
I would like the Hong Kong Jockey Club to explain how its race days are chosen.
There appears to be a trend now to hold the weekend meetings on Sunday and also to have a race on public holiday afternoons instead of the usual Saturday afternoons. People in Hong Kong work hard enough as it is, and while attending race meetings is a personal choice, many devotees are now spending their only day off during the week, and public holidays, betting on horses. Sundays and public holidays should be spent with one's family, not trying one's luck at the racetrack. I am not against horseracing. In fact, my family members have been members of the Jockey Club for years and we attend meetings quite frequently.
I work abroad and was planning on spending Father's Day in Hong Kong. And then I was told by my father that it would be a race day on June 17 and that he would prefer dinner on Saturday night instead! Why not hold meetings on Saturdays?
A M Tam, Jardine's Lookout
Time running out for dolphins
The Marine Department's comment that dolphins are smart and know how to get out of the way of oncoming high speed ferries ('Fears for rare dolphins as ferry numbers soar', June 2), shows an amazing lack of knowledge or concern for the environment under their care.
We humans are supposed to be smart, yet thousands of us are killed by vehicles every year - it's the same problem: too much traffic and too many careless drivers.
Unfortunately, as Gordon Andreassend points out (Talkback, June 7), there are many other problems to address too, if we want to think about saving the dolphins. Along with the existing problems of undertreated sewage, ferry traffic, overfishing and net entanglement, everything now on the drawing board for Lantau needs to be reassessed.
The Lantau Concrete (sorry, Concept) Development Plan is a piecemeal notion that talks of developing the north while 'creating' ecotourism in the south. We already have ecotourism in the north - and it wasn't artificially created, the dolphins are indigenous inhabitants - but they get in the way of 'progress'.
Has anyone ever done an environmental impact assessment on the cumulative effects of all the development on Lantau? From the airport and Disney through to the Macau-Zhuhai bridge, the Exxon-CLP 38km pipeline from the Sokos to Black Point, and container terminal 10 at Tai O - these are all just a few more nails in the dolphins' coffin.
It is ironic that in the UN International Year of the Dolphin and the 10th anniversary of the handover year, those nails are going in as fast as we can hammer them.
Janet Walker, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch
A good case for showing mercy
If a judge's act of pity has no place in court, as John Cheong asserts (June 8), should vengeance take its place?
The Jackson-Lipkins' case is a sad case of an old couple without a shelter, a pension or any income, overstaying in an expensive city with no place for them. The HK$1.9 million in savings is not enough to buy a flat or an annuity, but enough to convict them of cheating with their welfare claims.
However, these are the last savings of an old couple in their 80s suffering from a desperate sense of insecurity and seeking help.
A merchant in Hung Hom was given a suspended sentence in a clear case of fraud.
The original prison sentences handed down on the Jackson-Lipkins were heavy-handed and ill considered.
Justice without sensitivity or mercy is raw justice.
Sam Chow, Central
Checks and balances
The comments by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on democracy ('Universal suffrage is not the solution to all of Hong Kong's problems', June 7) explained why the seven-year depression was unavoidable.
Universal suffrage will not solve all our problems. However, it is a control measure. It can help prevent a bad situation from getting worse and enables us to replace undesirable leaders. Those who believe universal suffrage solves everything are being naive.
However, at least it can prevent our leaders taking us on a road towards self-destruction.
Perhaps Mr Tung should have a look at Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y approach, so he could have a better understanding of the principles of motivation.
Allan Ho, Pok Fu Lam
Mass killings go on unchecked
Michael Paskewitz strongly supports Amnesty International's defence of human rights ('Amnesty biases are essential in helping to protect human rights', May 16).
I think that, by and large, Amnesty is doing a good job.
However, even Amnesty overlooks the rights of millions of human lives lost each year.
These are people who have no voice and no say in how they are treated.
I am referring to abortion, which Amnesty supports.
This is, in effect, the deliberate taking of a human life.
However, without defending the right to life no other human right makes sense.
Why, then, are some people vocally represented while others are not?
Rosa Chan, Mei Foo