PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am

Have you had problems using public open space?

Years ago my photographer colleagues and myself, through these columns, raised the subject of harassment that we received when trying to take photographs of places like The Center, Cityplaza and the Cheung Kong Center. We remain on the sharp end of the action of overzealous security guards for merely pointing our cameras skyward.

I always believed their actions were not only unnecessary but unauthorised. We are not talking about a large-scale shoot, which would require permission; just a photographer who thinks that the light or angle makes an interesting photo.

In your excellent report ('Private rules that govern public spaces', March 30), you were approached by guards, the excuse being that you were using a tripod. It is my experience that merely having a camera is enough to warrant intervention. At The Center and the Cheung Kong Center, I have personally witnessed tourists being stopped from taking pictures. What kind of impression must that leave with our visitors?

When visiting IFC 1 and 2 to shoot, it is not unusual for me to be stopped and questioned as to whether I am a journalist. What right do they have to do this? It is pathetic, anyway, because if I wanted to do an undercover story, I would don a suit and hide my cameras.

I would be interested to know the truth/legality of Swire Property's claim that it owns the copyright on images of its buildings. Even if it is true, that surely doesn't give it the right to stop you photographing - but merely from reproducing those pictures.

I have always found it ironic that we have these huge, largely bland structures foisted upon us, piercing our skies (and in the case of One Island East, spoiling our view from the walks on Braemar Hill), and yet woe betide you if you want to take a picture of it.

Gareth Jones, Sheung Wan

How can associate degrees be improved?

So the Nursing Council has refused to give professional accreditation to the sub-degree nursing course of the Institute of Technology ('Student nurses' failure to win accreditation prompts ministerial warning to colleges', April 4). But what is the recognition of the HKIT course by the Council for Academic Accreditation for? What is the accreditation process for? Is it to qualify only for general jobs, or for enrolment in a higher nursing course?

Why then, according to HKIT president Joy Shi Mei-chun, were the HKIT students allocated places for on-the-job training in hospitals during the course? Dr Shi also said the Nursing Council would not begin to make assessments of the HKIT course until it had started, a catch-22. Between the Nursing Council and the Council for Academic Accreditation, they owe it to the job seekers to clear up this muddle.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Should the sex trade be legalised?

Women in this trade willingly surrender their dignity and let men have their way. These women, alone in their flats, 'put out' for complete strangers, doing whatever is asked of them. Apart from the fact they get paid, how does this differ from slavery?

The woman has no idea if the man will actually pay the agreed price, or what he might do to her. For all she knows, he could be an axe murderer.

Occasionally, one of these women is robbed and beaten and even killed, and because most of the men do not reveal their identity, it is difficult for society to adequately protect them.

How far do we go in terms of tolerance? Will we one day have a class in school explaining the sex trade to young women? I hope not.

Whether it is legalised or not, women should just simply not get involved in this kind of work. The cost is just too high. The four deaths are testament to this.

Rosa Chan, Lai Chi Kok

On other matters...

Sunday's mass cycle ride in support of a bike path along the waterfront was attended not only by experienced cyclists, who may be used to busy urban traffic, but also students and children who clearly would not have been comfortable on the roads without the safety of a group around them ('Campaigners get on their bikes for cycle-path protest', April 7).

With a cycle route along the waterfront, leisure cyclists, commuters and tourists could all enjoy peace and convenience while getting around. And all of us would benefit from fewer vehicle emissions, reduced congestion and less noise pollution.

The government refuses to accept or support cycling as anything other than a minor leisure activity, when with a little imagination and co-ordination, poorly used land alongside the harbour could be turned into a cycle path cum footpath, making Hong Kong a truly world-class city, with cycling as a viable and pleasant transport option in the heart of our metropolis.

Anthony Greene, Causeway Bay

The sex education curriculum in Hong Kong schools was outdated years ago, even when I was a teenager. What I got was just a two-hour slide show on sexual organs and reproduction, with the teacher flashing the pictures as quickly as she could, and the students whispering and giggling as they watched.

Things apparently haven't improved much, but unfortunately teenagers' access to ideas about sex has advanced with the internet. They will no longer be the passive receiver of information and values their parents were. They will not sit silently being spoon-fed by teachers, parents or religious leaders. With the internet, they can choose what they want to receive, make up their minds on values and sex; they can just ignore what the parents/teachers told them.

Sex education will not be effective unless it allows open dialogue between parents, teachers and teenagers, where the parents or teachers no longer take the role of imposing values, but try to see the world through the youngsters' eyes, with empathy, and provide them with guidance and support as they progress through adolescence.

Virginia Yue, Tsuen Wan