PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 October, 2008, 12:00am

What do you think of the Discovery Bay ferry proposal?

The Discovery Bay Transportation Services company operating the ferry service there claims accumulated losses of HK$120 million, but the company has refused to disclose how this figure was computed so the claim is impossible to verify.

The annual reports of parent company Hong Kong Resort never mentioned any drastic losses. On the contrary, they hint at a slightly profitable operation.

The March 2005 annual report said: 'Despite the continuing rise in fuel prices, the operating costs of the ferry and bus services have remained stable through effective cost-control measures.'

In March of last year it was reported: 'Patronage of both bus and ferry services has been increasing steadily. Despite the tough operating environment due to the escalating fuel price, the division managed to alleviate the operation's adversity through stringent cost control and efficiency enhancement.'

This year the report said patronage of both bus and ferry services rose moderately. The group would continue to find ways to overcome the operational difficulties.

So where is the truth?

Discovery Bay Transportation Services also projects further losses based on fuel-price projections, using an averaged cost of fuel 'from the past six months'. But it has been unable - or unwilling - to state what this average price was and how it compares with today's actual price.

Here again, no substantiated figures are available to be able to make a sound judgment.

Scaling down ferry services or imposing an unacceptable increase in fares will automatically put more pressure on a bus service already showing signs of being overstretched.

Wasn't a reasonably priced, excellent ferry service a major attraction for Discovery Bay's investors and tenants?

Michel Henry, Discovery Bay

How can we improve English standards?

Ranulph Hayward, in his reply (Talkback, October 22) to my letter (Talkback, October 20), misunderstood what I said. Let me clarify.

I said the English level of teachers in Hong Kong was poor. I did not refer specifically to 'English teachers'.

I am sure most English teachers have an acceptable level of English, but that is only one element of the students' educational experience, and far too insignificant to raise the competency level of our secondary students.

Craig Gibson, Sha Tin

Should private estates allow the keeping of pets?

Private estates should allow residents to keep pets, as long as the estate has the facilities that pets require.

People spend a lot of money buying a flat in a private estate. They should have the right to keep their pets.

However, their neighbours in the estates are also entitled to enjoy a decent environment. Pets running along the corridors and answering the call of nature in the lobbies are absolutely not acceptable.

Therefore, there have to be appropriate facilities provided by the estate, such as parks and pet toilets.

Pets need sufficient space to exercise. If they cannot get enough exercise they will not stay healthy.

Flat owners have to think about all these things before they decide whether or not to have a pet.

Tsang Man-yin, Kwun Tong

What do you think of the proposed food-recall law?

It is essential to pass such a law, so that the government has the power to act if it suspects that a food product might be tainted.

Many people, especially parents, have been made more uneasy than they were before because of the tainted-food scandal, which originated on the mainland.

Hongkongers have come to wonder if the food they are buying is safe to eat.

It is the government's responsibility to enact whatever legislation is required to allay these fears, in the interests of public safety.

They have to be able to undertake comprehensive tests of suspect food products and ensure they get them right. Food manufacturers could face substantial financial losses if the government were to get its analyses wrong, because then the matter of compensation would have to be considered.

There should be no delays in bringing into force this important legislation.

Jipakio Ip, Tsuen Wan

On other matters...

Hong Kong's beautiful countryside is being colonised by monkeys.

Even the most inattentive passers-by at the Shing Mun Reservoir or the Kowloon Reservoir in the New Territories cannot fail to see that these animals are everywhere.

I do not know how they got there in the first place, but their numbers have increased substantially over the last 10 years.

There are signs throughout the country parks saying that feeding wild animals is an offence and people who do so are liable to be fined. However, the reality is that, just like many other warnings put up by the government, these signs are ignored.

Furthermore, you are unlikely to see any officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department enforcing the law.

At a time when the government is so scared of bird flu and other infectious diseases, I cannot understand why the department allows this state of affairs to continue.

Who knows what diseases these monkeys are carrying? They are not only scavenging for refuse left by people, but they snap at your plastic bags when you are at a barbecue site or if you are in a small group of people.

It is not good when wild animals become bolder in this manner. How long will it be before they actually attack a human? It really is time the government acted and dealt with this problem before it gets out of control.

L.K. Shiu, Sai Kung