PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 November, 2008, 12:00am

Should the ban on smoking in bars be delayed?

Besides bars, readers should not forget the three types of adult entertainment premises that were also given a 30-month deferment before the smoking ban takes effect in July next year.

The government's intention behind granting such a deferment was to allow for sufficient time to study other solutions to a complete smoking ban in these outlets.

Two years have elapsed and finally the government tells us its feasibility study is ongoing and the results will not be ready until the first quarter of next year ('Smoking rooms being considered', November 24). This will leave businesses virtually no time to turn around and adapt to the new legislation before the law takes effect in July.

In some countries, entertainment outlets enjoy exemptions from a smoking ban because of their unique business model and adult-only clientele.

We see no reason for the Hong Kong government to implement such a harsh regulation particularly at a time of economic turmoil and when firms will be hardest hit by the credit crunch in the coming 18 months.

The government must seriously consider possible solutions to a total ban, including exemptions and a further delay of the ban until 2012, or at least allow smoking rooms.

Lilian Chan, Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group

What do you think of the revised Mega Tower project?

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has successfully lobbied the MTR Corporation to scale down its projects at Nam Cheong station and got Hopewell Holdings to cut the size of its Hopewell Centre II [Mega Tower] in Wan Chai.

The government is the [controlling] shareholder in the MTR Corp, so getting a 10 per cent reduction in Nam Cheong development would not have been that difficult to achieve.

However, Hopewell Holdings is a private company and the original plans for Hopewell Centre II had been approved by the Town Planning Board in 1994. The developer should be praised for showing a commitment to its corporate responsibilities.

The revised Hopewell Centre II project will be a 55-storey hotel with 1,024 hotel rooms, with a total floor area of 101,000 square metres. It will not even be as tall as the adjacent Hopewell Centre.

The Hong Kong Island ridge line behind the building will remain intact.

I believe that with this new plan, Hopewell Holdings has taken into consideration the concerns expressed by Kennedy Road residents about the original plan [with 93 storeys].

As Mrs Lam said in the Legislative Council, the decision of the developer was something to be welcomed.

There may be some Kennedy Road residents who do not want to see any kind of future development in Wan Chai, but I think we should welcome this new proposal by Hopewell.

Hong Kong's economy has been adversely affected by the global financial crisis and this project will bring about 1,500 construction jobs and 4,000 jobs in the hotel industry ('Mega Tower height cut by 38 floors', November 20). This will be a boost for the economy.

Jessica C. K. Leung, Wan Chai

Should the maid levy be scrapped?

There has been further discussion within the government about the suspension period of the HK$400 maid levy and the possibility of scrapping it altogether.

I believe it should be scrapped.

Most employers of domestic helpers are lower-middle class. They hire the maids to look after their children and take care of the house. This lets the parents go out to work and with their salaries pay the domestic helpers' wages. The HK$400 is an additional charge. During an economic downturn, an extra HK$400 a month is a lot of money for these families.

If the levy is abolished [rather than just suspended] more people will be able to employ a maid and then go out to work and earn more. This will increase their purchasing power, which will, in turn, stimulate Hong Kong's economy.

Instead of getting revenue from the levy, the government can increase the salaries tax.

Also, the suspension policy has been confusing as some employers have had to continue paying, while others have not.

Since the employers and the government would benefit if the levy was scrapped, it is time to do away with it.

Hai Mung-ki, Tuen Mun

Should poor families receive subsidies for extra-curricular activities?

Many people think poor children should receive such subsidies to ensure a level playing field.

However, I do not accept this argument.

Some of these extra-curricular activities are expensive, for example learning to play a musical instrument. Music lessons can run to hundreds of dollars a month.

Some extra-curricular activities do not cost anything and children from low-income families can get involved in those after-school programmes.

I am not saying we should not help the needy, but that aid should enable them to maintain basic living standards. When it comes to other expenses, they should be self-reliant.

Tai Kwun-kit, Sheung Shui

On other matters ...

I live in Sheung Yat House, in Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate. There is a construction site opposite my building. Early one Sunday morning about a month ago, I was woken by the noise of an electricity generator on the construction site. I called the police and an officer was able to help me stop the noise.

However, last Sunday I heard the noise again, but this time when I phoned the police, I was told that the construction site operator had obtained a permit from the Environmental Protection Department to use the generator even on a Sunday from 7am to 11pm.

I think the possible reason the EPD granted such a permit is that it considers the decibel level to be within the regulations. However, it emits a high frequency and I find this very annoying. I have tried to use earplugs but this has just not worked.

I put up with the noise from this generator from Monday to Saturday, but now I have to listen to it even on a Sunday. It seems as if there is nothing I can do about it since the site managers have this permit.

Ben Leung, Ngau Tau Kok


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