PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 May, 2008, 12:00am

Should non-profit activities be allowed in open public space?

The government recently told developers that all activities blocking or partially blocking the open spaces intended for public passage must not be held, even if the event is not for profit.

This is a follow-up action from the government (through the Buildings Department) and is a response to the recent outcry over the privately owned and public open spaces issue.

I think the government has gone from one extreme to another and this response is totally unnecessary. It also illustrates the rigid attitude officials take when they have to deal with sensitive issues.

The open space issue essentially comes down to whether or not any developers have deprived the public of its rights in order to make a profit.

If they rent out a supposedly public open space for profit, they are the only party that gains, because the public has lost its right of passage for that particular space. That is why there has been such an outcry.

If the developers were kind enough to let out their space for cultural activities, such as assisting in nurturing local talent, I suspect there would be very few complaints and everyone would gain - the developers, for being seen to support cultural activities, the local talent, by getting a free venue, and the public, for the chance to view these activities free of charge.

I therefore cannot understand why the government would have thought that such follow-up action would be deemed logical and necessary.

We need officials who can use common sense when it comes to such situations.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

Should the MTR install public toilets?

I think the MTR Corporation has good reasons for not installing public toilets inside its stations.

There are three main considerations - cost, hygiene and necessity. Hygiene has to be the top priority if public toilets are to be installed in MTR stations.

The conditions of some of Hong Kong's busiest public toilets are usually terrible. This is not just because of the management of these toilets, but also due to their high level of use. It is sometimes impossible to maintain an acceptable standard of tidiness if the toilet is being used all the time.

I can well imagine something similar happening to public toilets installed in MTR stations, given that they are among the most crowded places in Hong Kong. When hygiene problems develop in public toilets, it is easy for germs to spread.

In terms of their necessity, I do not think this applies in stations. Other public conveniences can easily be found near the stations, for example in shopping malls.

Given that it is a form of mass transport, people do not stay long in MTR stations. The practical thing to do, just as you do when going on a bus, is go to the toilet before travelling.

I do not think it is feasible to convert staff toilets into a public facility. These toilets have to be built, by law, by employers for staff.

If public toilets are installed by the MTR Corporation, the cost of construction and maintenance will be passed on to passengers.

For all these reasons, I do not think it is a good idea to have public toilets in MTR stations.

If there is a real emergency, then the staff toilets can be used.

Hung Wing-kee, Tuen Mun

What do you think of shops' service standards?

The quality of service provided in shops is very important to customers. If I encounter rude sales staff in a shop, I leave immediately.

I can still remember the time I was ignored by a saleswoman. I had gone into a jewellery shop to get a birthday present for my mother. I saw a necklace I liked and when I asked the saleswoman the price, she just turned around and walked away without replying. I asked another saleswoman and she answered in a very abrupt tone.

Maybe they thought that because I was a student, I would not have enough money to buy the necklace so they decided to ignore me. Such an attitude cannot be justified.

I agree that there is room for improvement in the standard of service provided by Hong Kong shops ('Shoppers not happy with long waits and lack of salespeople', April 30).

An increasing number of mainland visitors shop in Hong Kong. Their purchases boost our economy. Therefore, we should ensure they enjoy a good standard of service in our shops.

May Yuen, Sheung Shui

On other matters...

People are once again discussing 'green' lunchboxes ('Schools urged to use 'green' lunchboxes', April 28). We all know about the importance of environmental protection, not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

However, it seems that many people still lack the will to do something to ensure we live on a sustainable planet. Often cost is cited as a reason for not doing more to ensure environmental protection, and the cost argument is often used with regard to these so-called green lunchboxes.

Surely, the lunchbox providers could lower prices and, as an incentive, the government could assist them financially so they could be sold at a reasonable price. Human selfishness may be the main obstacle to environmentalists realising their dream of a better world. Hopefully, one day we can be more considerate about the world we live in.

Tiffany Chan Chung-tak, Quarry Bay

I am sure many readers are aware of the serious delays at Hong Kong airport because of cancelled or delayed flights caused by the nearby typhoon on the weekend of April 19 and 20.

It was clear that procedures for dealing with delayed passengers were inadequate. On this occasion, not only were the airline information desks seriously overwhelmed, with the result that police had to be called on several occasions to deal with crowd disturbances, but it seems the compensation arrangements for such a delay were also seriously inadequate.

I was due to take a 7.30pm flight on the Saturday.

Because of a late cancellation, I eventually got away on a substitute flight at 1.30pm the following day. For this long delay as a transit passenger (my journey had begun at 2pm on the Saturday from Taipei), including sleeping overnight on airport seats, I was offered a HK$75 dinner coupon to be used on the Saturday evening and was expected to starve the following morning.

On querying this with airline staff, they merely said that one coupon was all I was entitled to. This seems a wholly inadequate way to look after passengers, and I would hope something might be done to compensate delayed passengers fairly and humanely.

Roger Bristow, Taichung, Taiwan