PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 October, 2008, 12:00am

Should firemen get a pay rise?

Why are we deliberating on whether or not to give Hong Kong firemen a raise?

That they need to protest to obtain better equipment and more staff, after having their requests turned down by 'a government advisory body' ('Firemen may stage protest over pay', October 7), reflects extremely poorly on Hong Kong as a civilised city.

Firefighters are brave and work entirely in the interests of others.

We call on them in the most dire of circumstances, and they never hesitate. They risk their lives to save ours. And sometimes, they lose them.

I had the opportunity to witness this on Monday, when there was a small incident where I do volunteer teaching in Sham Shui Po.

An antiquated air conditioner spontaneously burst into flames in the room where I teach children for the Society for Community Organisation.

The firefighters responded to the 999 call and were there - literally - within two minutes.

Seeing them arrive, the children and I immediately felt safe. They put out the fire and smiled at us as they left.

I have lived in more than 10 countries and one of the reasons I never wish to leave Hong Kong is public services like this that we trust. As a permanent resident, how can I vote, or who can I phone, to voice my implicit support for our proud firefighting force?

Susannah Hirst, Mid-Levels

Should private estates allow the keeping of pets?

I refer to comments by Laura Ho Yuen-yung (Talkback, October 7). I believe there is a serious misconception.

Hygiene problems are not created by pets, but rather by their irresponsible owners. Following that logic, people are in fact the source of all the hygiene problems. Should we ban humans from residential estates?

The same goes for noise levels. Again, pets are normally not noisy unless they are not properly cared for. The idea of punishing responsible owners along with the few who are irresponsible is not sensible.

Rather, neighbours and estate management should educate pet owners to foster an environment in which pets and human beings can get along in harmony.

Virginia Yue, New Territories

How can sex education be improved?

Given that 98 per cent of Hong Kong's population is ethnic Chinese, Chinese culture greatly influences the city. Many Chinese regard sex as something dirty that should not be discussed publicly.

Being a local secondary student, I agree that there is a need for sex education to be improved in Hong Kong.

Our secondary schools do have sex education, however, it is limited to biology.

Our sex education is far too conservative.

The priority should be to improve sex education in schools.

People are concerned that if students acquire this knowledge, they will become sexually active. However, students are mature enough to make the right decisions in this respect.

In the west, students learn about every aspect of the subject in their sex education lessons.

Young people are naturally curious about sex and the lessons taught in Hong Kong schools do not address all the issues.

Schools are duty-bound to move with the times. They should free themselves of these obsolete concerns and give students more comprehensive sex education.

Douglas Tam, Tsing Yi

Most people agree that parents and teachers are responsible for ensuring children get comprehensive sex education.

I would suggest that when sex education classes are held in schools, boys and girls should be separated.

I think it is best to do this, because girls and boys are very different. Girls are not as impulsive as boys when it comes to sex.

If young people have unprotected sex, it is the girl who suffers most if she becomes pregnant. Therefore, they need to be taught sex education in a different way.

For example, girls should know how to protect themselves, and boys should be taught self-control.

It would be best if female teachers taught girls and male teachers worked with the boys.

It is also important that teachers adopt a relaxed manner, so students feel at ease and get involved in class discussions. They should be given the chance to express their opinions and learn to think critically about sex.

It should, however, be different with parents, who should be serious when they talk with their children about sex. If parents are flippant on the subject, children may harbour a misconception that having sex is not a big deal.

Racy Yip Chui-yuk, Kwun Tong

On other matters ...

On October 1, I made a trip to the MegaBox shopping centre in Kowloon Bay. When I arrived, I was hard-pressed to find a clean toilet for my three-year-old daughter on the 14th floor.

After checking three toilet bowls and finding them unflushed and loaded with toilet paper and cigarette butts, I was advised by customer service to go to the 12th floor, where I found some marginally cleaner toilets.

To further complement our experience, at about 4.15pm, we were walking past MegaBox's UA Cinema.

Glancing up at the televisions showing movie trailers, I saw a clip of a man holding up a severed and bloody head. After a few seconds of shock and revulsion, my first reaction was to grab my three girls - aged six, three and one - and beat a hasty retreat.

My obvious question is this: why does the management of the cinema and the shopping centre bless the broadcasting of what was arguably category three material in a public area, where it can do damage to the minds of unsuspecting adults - not to mention children - who would never choose to watch such obscene and gruesome movies?

Setting aside the moral issues, which, by themselves, do not register in business boardrooms, these companies should consider this - I will think twice before bringing my money to your family-unfriendly establishment next time.

Scott Smyth, Yuen Long