Halloween, also known as All Hallows' Eve, is an annual festival that takes place around the world on October 31, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In recent times the festival is celebrated with activities including dressing up in spooky costumes, trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns and lighting bonfires.
How can children be protected from lewd material on the Net?
Given that the internet has become so influential, we need to ensure that children are protected from the obscene material that appears on some websites.
It has been suggested in a government consultation paper that we should consider legislation to deal with this problem ('Proposed law sparks fears of Web censorship', November 3).
However, I think it is up to parents to act more responsibly and protect their children.
First of all, they need to install a special kind of software that filters material. It also blocks those pop-up windows that have obscene adverts and other improper material.
Parents need to communicate more with their children and find out what sites they visit. They should not allow their children to have their own computer.
The family computer should be placed where the parents can see it, which will make it more difficult for children to visit obscene websites.
Schools also need to play a role. Teachers need to make their pupils more aware of the risks involved when using the internet. In this respect, young people need to be taught self-discipline.
When considering any possible legislation, the government must strike a balance between ensuring free speech and protecting children.
But officials can do more than just introduce laws. They can hold talks for parents to help them educate their children to use the internet properly.
The government should also look at policies adopted by other countries to deal with this problem and see if they would be workable here.
Joli Cheng, Tsuen Wan
Should taxi users be banned from seeking discounts?
It is human nature to want to purchase something at a reduced price.
If taxi-fare discounts are banned, some passengers who are accustomed to bargaining may feel cheated.
Also, I wonder how practical it would be for the police to monitor such a regulation and determine which passengers had asked for a discount. I think you would still find some taxi drivers offering a discount so they could drum up more trade.
If both parties are satisfied with bargaining and can agree on a discount, is a law really necessary? I have strong reservations about this.
Yau Wing-ting, Tseung Kwan O
On other matters...
On November 2, my two children and I turned up with more than 300 other enthusiastic young children to train with the Sai Kung Stingrays Rugby Club - our usual Sunday morning. For the fifth time in recent weeks, we trained on a concrete field not much bigger than a couple of basketball courts.
As you can well imagine, the training was extremely limited as rugby and concrete don't mix well. Meanwhile, the one and only Sai Kung sports stadium had three workers raking up grass. Can't this be done midweek? I cannot believe the Hong Kong authorities place such a low priority on the health, sport and the well-being of their citizens.
Providing open green space for sporting activities should be a right here, not a privilege. Perhaps this is why Hong Kong's performance at the Beijing Olympics was nothing short of embarrassing. Here we have a wealthy city of 7 million people, unable to win even one medal. By comparison, New Zealand, a nation of 4 million, won nine medals, including three golds. What's going on?
Come on Hong Kong, let's get some priorities right; green open space, public sporting facilities, clean air and clean water have to be top of the list.
Greg Miles, Sai Kung
I refer to your editorial ('Harmless Halloween no time for mollycoddling', October 31) regarding Precious Blood Kindergarten's decision to stop celebrating Halloween with its students, saying that the festival scares children.
You seemed to suspect that the ban was related to religious reasons and implied that the decision of the school was unreasonable because what children do for Halloween celebrations is pretty harmless.
Some stories told to me by friends indicate that Halloween is not harmless fun. They told us they were visited by children at around 10pm on the night. They did not realise it was Halloween. The children asked for treats, but our friends did not have any sweets. One of the children said they would not leave unless they were given some money.
Other friends said they had children ringing their doorbell at midnight and decided this year to spend the night in a Macau hotel.
The point I am trying to make is that Halloween can be fun for some bored people looking for excitement, but it is absolutely far from being harmless.
In case you get me wrong, I do embrace the celebration of festivals with their associated meanings, such as New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival and Christmas.
Halloween is more a marketing ploy for companies looking to boost their sales revenue. There are surely a lot of other fun activities for our children to do.
Clive Chan, Kowloon Tong