PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am

Should the ban on smoking in bars be delayed?

James Middleton, chairman of the anti-tobacco committee of Clear the Air (Talkback, December 2), takes issue with the Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group (Talkback, November 28) and accuses it of wanting to profiteer by failing to protect catering workers from harmful cigarette smoke in bars and entertainment facilities which still permit smoking.

I, too, am a member of Clear the Air but have long argued that its remit should be cleaning up Hong Kong's polluted atmosphere and the air pollution on our streets.

Smoking indoors is mainly a personal health issue, not a major pollution issue.

Clear the Air uses emotive language to try to convince the world that only it is right about indoor smoking in bars, to wit, 'This flagrant attempt to abuse workers' rights is typical and akin to the Liberal Party's disregard for the health of workers in the catering industry'.

What Clear the Air ignores is that these workers and customers should also have the right to smoke if they so wish, provided they are in 'smoking' premises.

I have a very small residual interest in an English pub and I can state truthfully that over 23 years, 95 per cent of the staff were smokers and wanted to smoke while on duty.

During this time not one of our customers was ever forced to come into our premises and inhale second-hand cigarette smoke. They had a choice - not to come in.

This never, incidentally, stopped the eminent Clear the Air tobacco group chairman, Mr Middleton, from visiting our premises.

The answer to this problem is not 'separated smoking areas', as now being considered by the government (this would not work), but 'smoking' bars and entertainment facilities and 'non-smoking' premises, depending on a business owner's choice.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

What do you think of the Michelin guide's selection?

We should be justly proud of having so many Hong Kong restaurants given stars by Michelin ('Michelin bestows 31 stars on HK', December 3) - it is an honour. But I entirely agree with the cartoon by Harry (December 3), that we should not take the findings too seriously.

In fact I don't know much about the criteria used to award the stars.

Is it just the quality of the food they consider?

Do the guide's authors look at things like atmosphere and hygiene? I am puzzled and confused.

Also I note that many of Hong Kong's renowned eateries have been left off the list. It does not appear to me to be a fair rating system.

We all have our own favourite restaurants.

Not only do restaurants provide food to satisfy our appetite but there also has to be a suitable atmosphere. Some people might want a place that is cheerful, or find somewhere quiet with soft background music while others would prefer to eat at a street-side food stall, because they feel comfortable in such places.

Hermia Lee, Tsim Sha Tsui

What do you think of the Discovery Bay ferry plan?

I would like to respond to Johnny Lee Chi-ho's letter (Talkback, December 4) regarding the Discovery Bay ferry plan.

People in other areas of Hong Kong with an MTR connection and buses would never accept a 30 per cent fare rise, and it is because the ferry fare rise is so high that Discovery Bay residents are expressing their views.

Not all Discovery Bay residents are rich and some of them cannot afford such an unreasonable fare rise.

Yes, we choose to live in Discovery Bay because we like the environment, and I assume that Mr Lee chooses to live in Cheung Sha Wan for the same reason.

Regardless of where we choose to live, transport facilities are essential and developers should take this into consideration.

I believe that Hong Kong Resorts International (HKRI) should review other options.

It claims that it has to adjust the fare because of oil prices. However, oil prices have dropped by one-third.

K. H. Wong, Discovery BayOn other matters ...

I refer to the report ('Police say force's push to protect files breaches officers' privacy', November 7) regarding concerns from the Police Inspectors' Association on the issue of data privacy when police officers are required to apply for Hongkong Post e-Cert digital certificates.

It is worth noting that the operation of e-Cert services and the handling of personal information during the application process are governed by legislation and extensive regulations, which apply to all aspects of e-Cert services when these were undertaken by Hongkong Post as well as presently, when such operations are managed by E-Mice Solutions (HK).

In operating e-Cert services on behalf of Hongkong Post, we at E-Mice have to adhere to the confidentiality and data security requirements set out in both the code of practice laid down by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer under section 33 of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance as well as the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. And to ensure that we comply fully with all such regulations, E-Mice is subject to continuous government monitoring as well as a regular review by reputable international audit firms.

We hope this clarification removes any doubts the public might have regarding the handling of their personal data in relation to applications for e-Certs, the use of which is expected to increase with the growing need for government, businesses and individuals to authenticate the identities of their internet counter-parties and protect digital data through encryption.

Mimi Ho, vice-president - marketing, E-Mice Solutions (HK)