What do you think of the Sevens' security measures?
I refer to the reports on the Hong Kong Sevens ('Sevens fans angry over use of force by guards' and 'Action being taken over reports of violence, say Sevens organisers', April 1 and 2, respectively).
As the organiser of the Sevens, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) regrets that the activities of a small group of people have adversely affected what was otherwise a successful tournament.
Individuals who intrude on the pitch give cause for concern over the safety of players, officials and others engaged in the games or entertainment, and a number of measures are put in place to prevent such unauthorised access. These measures, enforced by the stadium's security staff, have effectively coped with the majority of attempted pitch invasions in recent years.
A full review of all security issues together with other procedures in place throughout the Sevens is under way with particular emphasis on those matters highlighted in the articles. Any recommendations from the review will be implemented to prevent such actions occurring in the future.
The HKRFU and stadium staff in no way or manner condone the use of excessive or unnecessary force to deal with those who take to the field uninvited.
Two such incidents are currently under investigation by the police and the HKRFU. Appropriate sanctions will be taken against those found to have committed an offence. It should also be noted that a number of the stadium security staff were injured while escorting intruders from the pitch.
The HKRFU intends to continue to host a Sevens that the Hong Kong community is proud of, and will take all such necessary action to ensure that this status continues without the unwelcome occurrences of last Sunday evening.
Allan Payne, executive director,
Hong Kong Rugby Football Union
I was shocked to read Nicolas Souchaud's response to the 'heavy-handed' manner in which security people handled individuals taking to the field uninvited at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens event last weekend. Exactly how many people on the field at any one time in the name of 'fun' does Mr Souchaud regard as acceptable? One, five, 20, 100?
To ensure the safety of players, coaches, officials and other individuals on the field, the answer is, of course, zero.
No matter my level of intoxication, I know not to run onto the field during a sporting event for two reasons: I will be fined and likely injured by security.
I read about the individual who ran naked onto the field on Saturday and was fined HK$1,000. On numerous occasions, I have had this amount of money in my wallet. This sum is clearly not a deterrent, and I encourage legislators to raise this fine tenfold. Indeed, this fine is so low, I can only assume it is the reason the public address announcer did not state the penalty for such an offence once the first spectator took to the field uninvited. Injury remained security personnel's only method of true deterrence.
While your correspondent referred to these people as 'peaceful individuals', in reality, there is no way of knowing their intentions when they take to the field. Subsequently, all people must be considered a potential threat. Indeed, we only have to look at the incident involving the tennis player Monica Seles, who was attacked during a match in Hamburg in 1993 by a deranged fan who ran from the crowd and stabbed her with a knife.
For me, these incidents in no way marred my enjoyment of this event, and I will be telling my friends in Canada how through a combined effort of public address announcements, appropriate fines, jail time, better security procedures and general public outrage we are capable of controlling such behaviour to a far greater extent.
Michael Kerr, Toronto
The Hong Kong Sevens is one of the most important sporting events in the city, with thousands of tourists coming to enjoy the carnival. Providing security is not easy because many spectators are drunk. I saw people throwing plastic beer jugs on to the pitch and some people were hit.
When any spectator ran on to the pitch, they were chased by security personnel. I think they were doing the right thing as they had to ensure the safety of the players. However, security staff should not punch pitch invaders, as this can damage our reputation as a world city. Next year, security staff management should give their employees clear guidelines and provide them with sufficient support. There must be sufficient manpower.
Chau Kin-lung, Shau Kei Wan
On other matters ...
I wonder if any of your readers have experienced the same problems I had with HSBC's credit card customer service hotline number (2748 4949). I called it three times on Tuesday morning from 9.45-11.15am. The first time I was put on hold and had to listen to a recorded voice for 25 minutes, before deciding to put down the phone. I called again at 10.45am and the same thing happened. I hung up after 15 minutes. The same thing happened at 11.15am. My question to HSBC: what is the purpose of your customer service hotline?
Is this the way HSBC serves customers, by constantly putting them on hold? I have never had a problem when I call a Singapore bank to make an inquiry.
Thomas Won, Wan Chai
Last Friday, I made the mistake of using the HSBC customer service helpline (2748 4949) for a minor credit card query. I followed all the recorded instructions, pressed all the right buttons, and then waited ... and waited.
After 10 minutes of listening to piano music and a recorded message telling me all lines were busy, I was tempted to give up. But you know how it is. You keep hoping someone at the other end will see your little blinking light, take pity on you and answer your call next. I waited more than 30 minutes before someone picked up my call. So, in an effort to help HSBC improve the efficiency of its helpline, I would like to make some suggestions.
Add the following few words to your recorded message: 'Someone will eventually answer your call, but you may have to wait up to 30 minutes. If you can't wait 30 minutes, please hang up and call back later when you have more time. Have a nice day.'
This will, I predict, reduce the number of people who feel angry and frustrated with the service.
In the circumstances, if HSBC offer me a monetary reward for my helpful suggestions, I shall decline it.
Philip Jones, Ma Wan