PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2007, 12:00am

Should child-feeding facilities be required by law?

Though more local mothers opt to breastfeed their babies, the sight of them performing this task is uncommon in Hong Kong.

The problems faced by breastfeeding mothers should not be taken lightly. I strongly support the campaign for a law to provide proper facilities for nursing and feeding in public places ('Mothers call for feeding law,' November 16).

One reason is to prevent the embarrassment of breastfeeding in public, not caused by the mothers, but by the general public. As you reported, one mother felt embarrassed because of unpleasant comments made to her by someone as she was breastfeeding.

The public should have a more open mind towards breastfeeding. However, we have to be aware that the vast majority of the population is Chinese - nudity is taboo and breastfeeding may well be associated with western culture.

Breastfeeding is not new, therefore it should be accepted by the public and it is not acceptable for men to ogle breastfeeding mothers. The nation is supposed to be progressing, so people in our society must develop an open mind towards the act of nursing infants.

Rooms designated for breastfeeding should be built in public places, such as parks and shopping malls. This will enable mothers, when the need arises, to breastfeed their babies without causing a disturbance to the public.

Social acceptance aside, we have to bear in mind that some people will continue to find breastfeeding unsightly, therefore the room should not be placed in a toilet. It should be clean and comfortable.

A 'feeding law' will represent further protection of women's rights and I hope it can be brought in as soon as possible, so that mothers are no longer ridiculed or embarrassed in public.

Khoo May Yee, Sha Tin

What do you think of the court decision on the Mid-Levels development proposed by Swire Properties?

I am disappointed to see the Court of First Instance ruling in favour of Swire Properties over the disputed site located at the junction of Castle Road and Seymour Road in Mid-Levels.

When purchasing my Seymour Road flat a year ago, I asked my property agent about the proposed height of the new development. The cynical reply was that it was zoned as low-rise, but the developer wanted to build a high-rise, and in Hong Kong the developer always won.

The judge pointed out the plot was originally zoned as residential zoning group A (without height limitations) in 1986. Surely, town planning is a fluid process that takes into account changes in landscape, population, congestion and environment (among numerous other factors) over time. If the original zoning were relevant today, then there is little need for a Town Planning Board to exist at all.

Worryingly, when Swire acquired the property they must have known of the zoning and height restriction. Reconstruction of an existing low-rise into a new low-rise in an area such as Mid-Levels is not profitable. So presumably, the developer was so confident that a high-rise building would ultimately be built that they still went ahead with the acquisition, demolition and initial stages of construction, including piling works.

The Town Planning Board is a neutral group that exists to ensure the interests of the community at large are met.

I hope the board does not become undermined by developers' use of the judicial review process. Or was my property agent in her cynical view correct? Do we live in a Hong Kong where developers rule?

Yusuf Jangbarwala, Mid-Levels

Should a rise in taxi fares be approved?

Every weekday morning after 8am, the majority of taxis on the roads in Kennedy Town have their 'for hire' tag covered with an 'out of service' cardboard sign.

Among them are two types of taxis: those wishing to go to Kowloon congregating beyond the designated cross-harbour taxi stand at Cadogan and Forbes streets, with few people wishing to hire them; and taxis going up the hill via Smithfield, driven by those who are about to pass their vehicles to the next shift drivers in Aberdeen.

In my observation, the congestion along the uphill section of Smithfield, which also forms part of the traffic to Central via the Hill Road flyover, is often attributed to empty taxis that refuse hire.

At the same time, those who wish to hire taxis to go to places like Central and Admiralty are waiting anxiously while time ticks away, and when they see a rare 'for hire' taxi, they come close to fighting each other to get it.

As for me, I do not mind spending double the fare increase for which the taxi drivers are asking by getting up a little earlier and dropping HK$2 into a tram coin box. I can travel from Kennedy Town to Central in 35 minutes. That is often the same as a taxi ride, if you also take the waiting time into account.

Surely the taxi industry could have changed the shift times.

I am afraid they only have up to 2013 at the latest to maximise their earnings by filling that supply-demand gap in my neighbourhood.

When the MTR starts operating in Western District, the demand for taxis will fall substantially.

B. Yue, Kennedy Town

There have been a number of stories of late about Ocean Park being a Hong Kong success story, even outdoing Disneyland.

There is even interest outside Hong Kong in the Ocean Park brand, with the possibility of attractions modelled on Ocean Park being built in other parts of the world.

Amid all this euphoria, I was shocked to see the hilltop at the park seems to have been scraped clear. The trees there appear to have been felled.

Would the park care to tell me, and the other residents of Ap Lei Chau and Aberdeen, what on Earth is happening to the hill? Has the park consulted the Ap Lei Chau residents, or is it none of their business? Can we leave hills, trees, rivers, meadows, heritage buildings, wet markets, streets, dai pai dongs, piers, clock towers and our Victoria Harbour alone?

Hong Kong has been described as a place of 'disappearance'. A skyscraper is built and your view of the harbour, or of parks with trees and flowers, is gone forever.

I would like an explanation from Ocean Park management about what is happening to this hilltop. Is it the park's idea of development, or is it a form of conservation?

Chan Kwok-bun, Ap Lei Chau