PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2008, 12:00am

Have you had any problems with public open space?

On January 12, I went to the ground-floor open area of Times Square, Causeway Bay, to conduct a 'Free Hugs' event with two friends.

At exactly 2pm I held up my 'Free Hugs' sign.

Within 10 seconds, even before I had hugged anyone, a security guard ran up to me and indicated that I had to stop.

I said: 'Why? I'm not selling anything and I'm not disturbing anyone.' But he insisted that I could not hold up my sign or hug anyone, and he pointed repeatedly at the ground, saying, 'Times Square, Times Square'. I took that to mean he was saying it was private property. He then pointed at me and pointed across the street, implying that if I wanted to hold up my sign and hug people, I had to move away from Times Square. So I did, and over the next two hours I hugged 50 wonderful people.

Now that I know that the open area of Times Square is indeed public space, I'll go back there with my sign one day soon and see what happens.

Kay Ross, Central

On other matters ...

I write in response to the letter by Sharon Li (Talkback, March 28), about the safe disposal of used energy-saving light bulbs.

The government encourages the wider use of fluorescent lamps since they are more energy-efficient and have a longer service life than incandescent light bulbs. However, they contain a small quantity of mercury and broken lamps should be properly handled.

To provide an environmentally sound outlet for the disposal of used fluorescent lamps, 15 suppliers of fluorescent lamps have joined hands to organise and fund a territory-wide recycling programme with the support of the Environmental Protection Department. Starting from tomorrow, 53 public collection points will be provided at the retail outlets of participating companies, designated shopping malls and houseware stores.

In addition, more than 480 housing estates have signed up for the recycling programme, and starting from April 14, collection bins will be provided at these participating housing estates for residents to deposit their used lamps. The collected lamps will then be delivered to a mercury lamp treatment facility set up at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre. More details on the recycling programme can be found at

We thank Ms Li for her interest in the safe disposal of energy-saving light bulbs, and we encourage the public to participate in the fluorescent lamp recycling programme.

Patrick Lei, principal environmental protection officer, Environmental Protection Department

I am sure all those who, like me, attended the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens on Sunday will agree that it was a fantastic show.

However, in spite of this, you could not miss the heavy-handed response by security personnel to people taking to the field uninvited. It must be noted that these people were not necessarily from the alcohol-fuelled South Stand. Some were obviously teenagers doing it for fun, as that is what the whole event is about.

While I can understand that an individual may have to be physically restrained to be escorted off the pitch, I was shocked to see security staff striking individuals who had already been immobilised and doing it blatantly in front of a 40,000-strong crowd.

Now I have to admit that this marred what had been up till then a superb rugby weekend and I will be mentioning these incidents to my friends in Australia.

With China, Hong Kong's ruler, facing legitimate criticism for its disrespect of human rights, such incidents as last Sunday's can only be perceived by outsiders as an extension of what law and order is really about in an authoritarian state.

I hope that this is not the case and that last Sunday's actions against peaceful individuals were just regrettable acts committed by a handful of individuals.

Nicolas Souchaud, Sydney

Being a foreigner who has stayed in Hong Kong for two years now, I would say that I have encountered rude taxi drivers on numerous occasions.

The latest incident happened on March 25 when I was coming back from holiday. At about 10.15pm I took a taxi from Hong Kong Station. I had a large and heavy piece of luggage and, being a woman, I was hoping the taxi driver would help me put the suitcase into the boot. However, he stayed put, leaving me to load the luggage on my own. He drove me to my destination at too high a speed. Although I wanted to find his name card, it was not visible.

I got out of the taxi after paying my fare and again, rather than help me with my luggage, he stayed in the driver's seat.

If a lot of taxi drivers behave in this way, then I am concerned about what impression this creates for people who are visiting Hong Kong, especially when this city is always trying to emphasise the good quality services it provides.

J. Lum, Quarry Bay

I am glad that the schools have reopened after the Easter break. I definitely agreed with the decision to do this as we have to learn to live with flu in Hong Kong.

The most important thing is that schools should follow the rules and guidelines provided by the authorities. It really comes down to common sense.

Shutting the schools was a short-term solution. In the long term, what is important, for future outbreaks, is to teach children and their parents about the importance of good hygiene. Also, I support the free vaccination programme proposed by the authorities.

Schani Tsui, Kowloon Tong

I have written to Calvin Klein to explain that its huge 25-storey-high advert in Central has attracted a lot of negative publicity. This site overlooks one of the rare open public parks in Central and borders the historic Legco building and the Cenotaph and faces Hong Kong Park.

I object to any displays in this area because they only serve to add yet another dimension to Hong Kong's pollution. We have horrendous air, noise and light pollution and now Calvin Klein has added to this with its own form of visual pollution. We do not need a 25-storey advert.

Philip Richards, Sheung Wan