Should the fuel tax be met or subsidies offered?
In view of the disturbing report on worsening air pollution in the Pearl River Delta and the revelation that this is causing 10,000 premature deaths a year in Hong Kong, our government should be looking at increasing fuel taxes rather than giving in to demands of drivers that they be abolished. It is quite evident by the number of idling engines on our streets that fuel is still far too cheap.
Rather than bleating for reductions in fuel taxes, vehicle owners should be devising programmes to reduce travelling. These could be in the form of proposals for more flexible working hours, elimination of unnecessary routes, better interchange systems, combining deliveries, and better fleet management on construction sites.
The government must now resolve issues of congestion and lack of efficiency in our road system by introducing parity in harbour tunnel prices, road pricing, strict implementation of parking regulations to free up obstructions, early introduction of legislation on idling engines and strong support for public versus private transport.
There appears to be a consensus that fuel prices will continue to rise so the focus of the community should now be on efficiency and reduction. Short-term relief will only delay the essential long-term policies required as the supply of fossil fuels dries up.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
On other matters ...
I cannot be the only one irritated by this, so here they are, my two pet hates on Hong Kong television.
There is really nothing worse than advertisements interrupting a programme on broadband television every eight minutes.
Well, so I thought until I subscribed to Cable TV broadband in Hong Kong. Star World and AXN repeatedly show the same advert for a TV show, 30 times in an evening.
The other pet hate has to do with subtitles. Why is it that every English show has Chinese subtitles but not the other way around?
I subscribe to watch English shows and occasionally when there is a foreign language spoken, the English subtitles are blocked out by Chinese characters. It is annoying. Why is there no option given to turn these off. We are paying for English television, not a subtitle channel.
K. Cramb, Tung Chung
I was in the gym on the morning of Saturday June 7 and I switched the television to the AXN channel which was showing a programme about animals attacking humans.
The lead clip on this programme was a segment on a religious festival in India which involved a couple of elephants and several hundred people.
One of the elephants became incredibly irate and went on a rampage. For several minutes it gored, tossed in the air and trampled on several lifeless, broken human bodies and then attacked and gored another elephant.
The whole clip went on for at least 10 minutes. It seems to me that these reality 'shock and awe' programmes have gone way beyond the realms of reasonable taste. Let us maintain some levels of decency.
Jean-Paul Churchouse, Pok Fu Lam
Hong Kong drivers clearly lack the fundamental knowledge of traffic laws and regulations. It is remarkable that a majority of our fellow roadsters hold government-issued licences. Do these drivers ever wonder why car manufacturers invented indicators and made them a standard installation on all cars?
Indicating is a rarity on the road these days. Drivers seem to have forgotten they have such a device or their arthritis is acting up in the severe humidity. It makes driving extremely frustrating - and dangerous - when people don't indicate. It is the most fundamental etiquette drivers should have, much like holding the door for the next person, or saying thank you.
Justin Poon, Tin Hau
I would like to share my outrage about the excessive amount of promotion activities and advertising banners on the streets of Hong Kong. It seems everywhere you go, the railings and signposts are covered with advertising banners and promotion stands, which block the view and makes traversing the busy narrow pavements even more difficult.
For months I have filed complaints with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the police, the Home Affairs Department, my local district councillors and legislative councillors, to no avail. No department is willing to take responsibility for dealing with this nuisance. Yet there is a clear existing legislation that covers this problem.
The biggest offenders are the telecom and fitness chains, who have proper retail shops just steps away, but feel the need to contravene the laws of Hong Kong to further advertise on the street without paying taxes or rent. However, for the firms that follow the law, this constitutes anti-competitive behaviour.
Moreover, illegal promotion activities dominate the available space for other activities that have far greater social value. Recently there has been a renaissance of creativity and compassion expressed on the streets with artistic and charity activities flourishing.
I urge the relevant departments to better enforce the existing laws.
Michael Agopsowicz, Causeway Bay
I have just returned from England where I bought a bottle of Australian red wine. It was a 'Peter Lehmann 2006 Wildcard Shiraz' and cost me GBP5.75 in a local shop. This price includes 17.5 per cent value-added tax and a charge of about GBP1.30 for the duty. This equates to HK$87.
Yet with no tax in Hong Kong, the same wine is HK$79 with a yellow label at ParknShop. The yellow label usually means a cheaper price before a hike. Please can ParknShop explain why their wine with no sales tax or duty is only 10 per cent cheaper when it has had far less distance to travel.
I believe the government needs to look into sales of wine since the cessation of duty in February, which was 40 per cent. It seems the prices have not come down 40 per cent.
Tim Greening, Sha Tin