How can the decline of Tai O be reversed?
Tai O's unique fishing and salt-making culture is diminishing, and diminishing fast, according to a government survey ('Last fishing village threatened as young abandon ageing population,' February 11).
The young generation wants to leave Tai O for better opportunities and some of the age-old practices are in danger of dying out.
The situation is made worse by the fact that Tai O does not have convenient links to the rest of Hong Kong and this makes it all the more difficult to attract expatriates, even though many expats like living on islands like Cheung Chau and Lamma. This transport problem also makes it difficult to develop Tai O as a popular tourist destination.
It is inevitable that the younger generation wants to get a taste of living in the heart of 'Asia's world city' and who can blame them? The government is promoting a better quality of life and there is the attraction of being turned into millionaires by investing in the stock and financial markets.
All these attractions make it extremely difficult to preserve some of the old practices. The once prosperous fishing village will one day lose its unique cultural roots. So what can we do to maintain a balance between the past and a vision for the future?
We should develop the eco-tourism and cultural preservation as a means of preserving the age-old practices that were mentioned in the report. We have to admit that these practices are no longer attractive enough for most of the younger generation. However, incentives must be provided for those still wishing to maintain these practices such as salt- making.
The age-old practices of Tai O could form part of an exhibition. This, combined, with the natural beauty of the village and surrounding area, could help make it a unique cultural experience and it could become a popular tourist spot.
However, any tourist development must involve minimal intervention to protect the natural environment.
H. C. Bee, Ho Man Tin
Should the jaguar be replaced when it dies?
I believe that this magnificent creature should be replaced when it dies.
The Zoological and Botanical Gardens should appeal to the government for funds to supply the animal with a larger facility. The animal needs space to move around and exercise.
If the jaguar chosen for Hong Kong was born in captivity it will have known no other lifestyle. Therefore it would not be cruel or inhumane. It would be raised by humans and have a happy life. In the wild the animal would learn from its parents how to survive. Therefore, it would be survival of the fittest in that situation.
When the animal is born in captivity it has three square meals a day and is living in a safe environment.
Michele Kalish, South Bay
At what age is it OK to leave children home alone?
Concern has been expressed about the problem of some parents in Hong Kong leaving their children home alone.
If children are left alone without the guidance of their parents, they can do harm to themselves.
Most children cannot look after themselves on their own.
Parents should only leave their children at home alone when they are sure that their children are independent and are definitely able to take care of themselves.
I believe children should not be left alone until they are above 11 years old. A Primary Five student should be capable of looking after himself or herself for a short period of time.
Lau Man-yui, Kwun Tong
On other matters...
I would like to respond to the report 'For bus cleaners, it's a dog's life sometimes' (February 12) and the comment, 'Lost or abandoned animals received by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are put down within weeks if no one claims them'.
This is not the case.
From time to time, we receive animals that are sadly surrendered by their owners, or were found as strays brought to us by kind members of the public. In 2006/07, we managed to find homes for more than 2,800 of these animals.
If someone wants to have an animal as a companion after giving it careful thought, we would invite them to consider adopting one from the SPCA (HK) rather than buying one from a pet shop.
The lucky ones can be adopted soon after they are channelled to our homing centres.
However, we do have some less fortunate ones, especially adult mongrels, some of whom are eventually adopted after some 10 or even 14 months.
Rebecca Ngan, PR and communications manager, SPCA
I am writing regarding membership of the Racing Club at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
If a person is below 31 the entrance fee is HK$50,000, otherwise it is HK$100,000. My wife is regional director of a company and a member of her staff was interested in becoming a Racing Club member. I phoned the club's marketing manager, Tina Wong, and wondered if because of her age the prospective member would qualify to be in the HK$50,000 entrance fee bracket and I was told she would.
After a delay of several weeks she was interviewed by the club's membership committee.
There was another wait of several weeks before she was notified that she had been elected by the stewards of the Jockey Club to become a member, entitling her to enjoy the Racing Club privileges with immediate effect (dated February 1). However, she was informed the entrance fee would be HK$100,000 and the monthly subscription of HK$1,000 would apply.
I phoned Ms Wong to remind her of our previous conversation and the fact I was told that the member of staff qualified for the HK$50,000 entrance fee. However, Ms Wong replied that she had passed that valid age by three months.
I also spoke to the club's manager, Mark Richards, who explained the club's membership structure.
However, I feel that once Ms Wong or Mr Richards had realised this woman did not qualify to join at the HK$50,000 rate, they should have informed her instead of wasting her time with an interview and sending her a welcoming letter.
To put it mildly the applicant, my wife and myself (a Jockey Club member for 21 years) are extremely disappointed with the management of the Racing Club.
Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay