PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 November, 2008, 12:00am

Should Umar Khatab be allowed to stay in Hong Kong?

As a fellow Muslim and a father, I am deeply touched by the story of 13-year-old Umar Khatab, who is trying to stay with his brother in Hong Kong after the recent death of his father.

If not for the prospect of facing a judicial review, the Immigration Department was unlikely to agree to review Umar's case.

The department initially rejected Umar's application to remain, citing 'insufficient justification to warrant an exceptional approval'.

Well, apparently in the eyes of the department, being a young orphan who has been studying in a local school and whose brother has pledged to take care of him does not amount to sufficient justification.

Pray tell, what does then?

It is interesting to note that in hearing the judicial review application, even the judge could not conceal how he felt about the case, and hinted to the Immigration Department to do the right thing. Amid all this, Umar remains optimistic. He does not allow his uncertain status to deter him from achieving a goal he has set for himself, that is, to memorise the Koran.

His determination, strength of character and, above all, faith, are things we can all learn from. Instead of turning him away, Hong Kong should welcome him.

Ghulam Rasul Butt, Discovery Bay

Should Cathay Pacific employers have access to staff medical data?

The point of contention underlying the issue is one between the company's interests and human rights.

Medical records contain sensitive information that should not be disclosed without our consent. Even in situations under which companies may face financial losses because of the absence of a worker, the same fundamental principles apply.

It is a matter of respect and how human rights are practised. In no way in this case does the need to intrude into one's privacy outweigh public interest.

Employers should trust doctors' judgment, and accept valid sick leave certificates. If they suspect false information was given, they may file a complaint with the Medical Council.

If it is proven that deceitful ways were used to obtain sick leave, the problem will then be left to the code of ethics that govern medical personnel.

At the end of day, all the reasons given don't justify giving someone the right to check our medical records.

The proper means should be pursued in handling personal information. The integrity of an employee and whether we should intrude into that person's privacy are separate issues.

There is also no knowing how private information would be used if not handled properly, and there are worries that such information is manipulated by those who bear malicious intent.

Borromeo Li Ka-kit, Kwun Tong

Will building a bypass result in more cars?

It's very hard to say whether or not the bypass will result in more cars. Most probably, it will.

Although at first congestion may seem to improve, eventually, as suggested by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, the bypass may fill up in two years or even just in two months.

We are experiencing an economic downturn now and people will be more conscious of what they buy, and spend less on luxury goods, including cars. But there will still be people who prefer to drive.

On roads that are less congested, driving saves time. Hence, some people are encouraged to own a car. We can all guess what happens next.

It is clear I am not a fan of the bypass. So what can we do? I don't understand why we can't adopt electronic road pricing, as it is very effective.

It is understandable that it will be opposed, but we can't just keep adding bypasses until all the usable space in Hong Kong is filled with roads, or sacrifice the beautiful harbour just to accommodate the number of cars.

The best way, therefore, is to clearly explain the merits of electronic road pricing so the public will understand and accept the plan. But convincing the public will take time, as the plan requires car users to pay more.

Melissa Chen, Lam Tin

Hong Kong is one of the most fast-paced cities in the world. Busy people demand convenient road systems and this results in severe traffic congestion.

The Hong Kong government deals with the problem by building more roads, flyovers and so on. However, this cannot solve traffic congestion; it just increases the number of drivers. If more roads are built, more cars will travel on them. A driver who benefits from the convenience of an extra road will find it is no longer convenient when other drivers also use the road.

Let me give you one more example. My room is always messy and full of books. When there is a new bookcase, I fill it up immediately. The relationship between roads and cars works in a similar way.

More bypasses will give drivers more incentive to drive, and congestion will become more serious. No matter how many roads you build, they will fill up ultimately, maybe within 18 months or two years. That's the reason I believe the bypass will result in more cars.

In addition, I am convinced that the only way to solve traffic jams is bringing in a congestion charge similar to Mr Livingstone's scheme in London.

Giving up driving will be the consequence of high travel costs, when drivers cannot afford to drive any more. When the number of cars decreases, pressure on roads will begin to decrease. This is more effective than building more roads to solve traffic congestion.

Sharon Kong, Tsuen Wan