PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am

Octopus and MTR must end price anomaly

The recent revelation of the overcharging fiasco involving Octopus cards adds to the public's unease that operators such as Octopus and the MTR Corporation care more about profits and the status quo than providing a decent service.

For instance, when people use the Airport Express to go to Chek Lap Kok, they will get a 10 per cent discount for the HK$200, 30-day return tickets (from Central) but only if they purchase their tickets at the Airport Express counter. Some years ago, I suggested to the MTR Corp that it should allow Octopus card users the same discount privilege, but it has not happened.

Even more perplexing was when I made a recent trip on the Airport Express to the AsiaWorld-Expo to see The Cure in concert. I had to buy a ticket at the counter for a friend who did not have an Octopus card. My friend's return ticket (from Central) was HK$100, whereas all Octopus card users were automatically charged a discounted price of HK$72 for their return trip of more than two hours. It was obviously no use trying to talk sense to the Airport Express staff about this blatant hypocrisy. Perhaps the next best thing is to hope that this letter will make Octopus and the MTR Corp buck up their ideas.

An explanation, through these columns, from Octopus and the MTR Corp regarding this ridiculous and inconsistent manner of discounting would be appreciated.

Will Lai, Western

Help available for unhappy gays

A recent Rainbow of Hong Kong survey of 314 homosexuals has revealed that: 'As many as 70 per cent of the respondents said they were bothered by their sexual orientation' ('Social services centre for homosexuals opens', July 30).

Two opposing schools of thought address this discomfort. One claims these individuals were born gay and need only to get used to same-gender sexual activities. The other view finds that people can leave homosexuality by identifying the factors which led to their same-sex attraction and participation in same-gender sexual activities.

The first group has a few scant studies which may look like a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality.

The second group quickly retorts that no replicated scientific studies establish a biological or genetic basis for homosexuality.

Exodus International, a worldwide organisation, based in the US, counsels homosexuals and lesbians who wish to leave same-gender sexual activities.

In fact, Exodus staff have stated that, in their 30 years of operation, they have seen tens of thousands of individuals leave homosexuality. Is it any wonder that pro-gay activists are uncomfortable with this?

If a person is seen as born gay, how can they reverse this programming? After leaving homosexuality, some go on to enter into opposite sex relationships, marry and have children.

However, the basic goal of most is for emotional recovery from damaging experiences in childhood, which they claim led them into homosexuality.

Of course, not everyone who attempts to leave homosexuality succeeds.

Hong Kong is in the midst of an HIV epidemic in the gay community. Those who wish to exit homosexuality should know that they have a choice. Largely, the realities within homosexuality are shielded from public view.

However, for the many who have entered homosexuality through emotional and relationship damage in childhood help is available.

Of course, anyone who leaves gay sex automatically takes his name off the list of those who could become infected with HIV through homosexual sex. And if knowledge is power, everyone has the right to know that homosexuals here in Hong Kong have successfully stopped participating in homosexual sex and claim that they are happier.

Gordon Truscott, Yuen Long

Causeway Bay a health risk

Robert C. Y. Lee ('What pollution?', August 8) obviously does not bother to read the Environmental Protection Department's daily air pollution index (API).

He may see blue skies for the time being, but he is still living in one of the most polluted districts of Hong Kong. Causeway Bay, Central and Mong Kok consistently have a high roadside API, consisting of respirable suspended particles from traffic exhaust emissions.

Mr Lee, until our government starts eliminating the cause of traffic congestion - by introducing electronic road pricing congestion charges - you increase the likelihood, by living in Causeway Bay, of becoming yet another member of the public who suffers from respiratory difficulties.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

End this taxi blackmail

At 4.30pm last Friday, with typhoon signal No 8 having been hoisted, I went to the airport taxi rank.

I approached several taxis. One wanted a HK$100 surcharge and another demanded a HK$500 fare into Kowloon. I refused to pay and took the Airport Express and MTR home. However, passengers with a lot of luggage and foreign visitors had little choice but to give in to the blackmail. I wonder what the visitors must have thought of our 'world city'. Taxi drivers argue that their insurance will not cover their trip when the No 8 signal is up. If this is the case, the Transport Department should clarify if taxis are allowed to operate without insurance cover.

Why did the Airport Authority allow the drivers to use the taxi rank if they were all refusing to use their meters? We have given in too many times to this kind of behaviour by our taxi drivers. It is time we enforced law and order on our roads.

Ko King-tim, Kowloon Tong

Backing for levy

I supported the proposal by two taxi associations to levy a HK$1 fuel surcharge per trip ('Taxi drivers' bid for HK$1 LPG levy fails', August 11).

I do not think it would have been that big a deal for customers to pay an extra HK$1. However, the accumulated amount of the surcharge could have rescued some taxi drivers, who are faced with the rocketing cost of liquefied petroleum gas and have an unstable income anyway.

If we don't help these people out, the number of taxis operating in Hong Kong will be greatly reduced.

Summer Ha Man-yi, Ngau Tau Kok

Halt brain drain

Some experts are worried about the effect the brain drain will have on Hong Kong.

To ease the problem, the government has imported skilled labour, but I doubt if this will work. I think this policy can bring only temporary relief. Because they are coming from abroad, these people are more likely to leave Hong Kong again, after a period of time.

Instead of seeking help from skilled labour from outside, we should be training our local workforce.

Ironically, employers are more willing to invest in machinery and office equipment, than in employees. They forget that employees are the most important part of any company. We should learn from places like Singapore, where the government emphasises the importance of training the local workforce.

If we do not make a greater effort to train people locally, we will lag behind our major competitors.

It is high time the government thought about this problem and tried to tackle it.

Joanna Wong Wai-ting, Tsing Yi