PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 September, 2008, 12:00am

We will not stop the polluters if all they get is a verbal warning

How much longer is our government going to allow perpetrators of anti-social and often dangerous practices to get off with a verbal warning?

Burn down the hillsides during the Ching Ming Festival - verbal warning; leave parks, beaches and our waterfront covered in garbage - verbal warning; dump construction waste that may contain asbestos on the roadside blowing in the wind - verbal warning; leave your vehicle unattended with the key in the ignition and belching exhaust on pedestrians - verbal warning; cause an obstruction on the pavements outside MTR stations and block sight lines on busy intersections - verbal warning.

All these offences, and many more, are covered by regulations and by-laws.

All of them mention fines, or prison sentences in more serious cases.

However, our government's approach to enforcement is the all-pervasive verbal warning.

Even when a citizen making a complaint offers to be a witness should the matter go to court, the response is always, you guessed it, verbal warning.

It is no mystery why many of our regulations are completely ignored; the knowledge that they will never be enforced is widespread.

The most recent example of the government's lack of interest in enforcing its own laws is the tonnes of rubbish that were left behind after the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Yet only one person was charged, while more than 1,000 verbal warnings were issued.

If the administration has no desire to enforce regulations then they might as well be removed from the statutes. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department can be disbanded and the security services reduced in numbers.

If it does not want to repeal the regulations then it is about time that it stopped pussyfooting around and sent out a strong message that anti-social behaviour that has a negative impact on our environment will no longer be tolerated.

Or will it take a fatal fire on the Chung Yeung Festival to turn verbal warnings into zero tolerance?

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan

Man's greed has led to financial meltdown

American International Group (AIG), which has suffered because of the US recession, strikes me as the perfect symbol of man's folly.

As a long-time observer of the Hong Kong scene, I recall the sadness I felt when the Furama Hotel was demolished.

Though it wasn't exactly a part of the local heritage, the Furama was something of an institution, a nice if not overly luxurious hotel that had a homey lobby and comfy restrooms and served lovely lunch buffets that didn't cost a week's wages.

It was soon replaced by an ugly pile (designed by some architect with a vertical box mentality), the soulless AIG structure was planted in Central, with the changeable LCD lights flashing on top apparently meant to be its crown. Manhattan in Asia indeed, but without Manhattan's style.

I know next to nothing about the insurance, financial or the rest of the business world.

What began with Enron, snowballed on to Lehman Brothers and then affected other financial organisations such as [now bailed-out] AIG. What has happened shows there's justice in this world after all.

Man's greed, crassness and mindless pursuits have produced these financial cataclysms.

All the signals showing this planet is spinning out of control surely tell us humans to rethink our values.

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai

Countries can learn from political crises

I refer to the unrest in Thailand involving anti-government protesters at the prime minister's office compound, with the government choosing restraint when it could have treated them as trespassers.

Ironically, the Malaysian government led by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) Party, a Malay-ethnic party, faced with increasingly critical online commentaries, resorted to arresting a prominent online political blogger, under a draconian security law that allows indefinite detention.

The Umno-led Malaysian government, with all law enforcement agencies under its control and a record of oppressive enforcement, clearly favours the suppressive approach to thwart the opposition.

Whereas the Thai government, with likely royal sympathy and a menacing military, all that could be meted out by the administration is capitulation towards protesters.

In my view, Malaysia needs a full jab of human rights and Thailand needs a strong dose of the rule of law.

The more we see our neighbours' situation, the more we ought to be thankful and therefore watchful of our liberty and the rule of law in Hong Kong.

K. Y. Tan, Ma Wan

We cannot tolerate part-time lawmakers

The low voting rate in the Legco election on September 7 showed that many people have lost confidence in those lawmakers who lack integrity and rarely attend Legco meetings.

The public wants to see enthusiastic councillors who really understand our needs and serve the community wholeheartedly, instead of those who only enjoy attractive salaries.

Lawmakers are supposed to fight for our benefits instead of their own.

I think it should be stipulated that all individuals should give up any full-time or part-time jobs when they become legislative councillors, so that they can concentrate on fulfilling their duties as lawmakers.

I would estimate that if you look at the total remuneration of a councillor and include all fringe benefits - such as free parking and free coupons for special events organised by the SAR government - it probably comes to over HK$1 million.

The councillors have a duty to work hard for such a generous package. Their effort should be in proportion to the money they earn.

Members of the public will appreciate those councillors who put in the hours, attend the meetings and perform their necessary duties outside the chamber.

Isn't it shameful that there are some Legco members who want an even higher salary, without doing anything for it.

I congratulate those candidates who won, but remember, the public is always watching you.

Wilson Kwok, Sham Shui Po

Life-saving equipment on boats is available

I refer to police public relations officer Ng Ka-sing's comments about manufacturers not recommending the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) on boats and in the marine environment ('Red tape is not an issue for marine police when it comes to saving lives', September 7).

Asia Safety Management Limited would like to point out that this information is incorrect and out of date.

The Defibtech Lifeline AED, which we sell, is the only commercially available AED certified to be used in the marine environment and has been available for many years.

Richard Scotford, China director, Asia Safety Management Ltd

Palin an inspiration

US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's arrival on the scene shows exactly how life has changed.

She is the epitome of the new, educated, career-focused leader who manages a family life and has to deal with the same issues as all real people.

Her accomplishments should be an inspiration.

Richard Atkinson, New York