PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am

Drug testing in schools sends wrong signals

I refer to the letter by S. Kwok ('Deterrent effect worth noting', December 15). I quite simply cannot see what positive effect drug checks in schools will have.

Any student stupid enough to be taking drugs in school would probably be caught by traditional methods, while any student with an iota of intellect who wishes to take drugs will simply do it outside of school, where they will not be caught.

This is simple logic. Unless we are to brand today's teenagers as either criminals or cattle, we should give them the respect of the benefit of the doubt. Who decides who is a 'suspected illegal drug user'? What criteria do we use to judge? The ethical morass that this ridiculous scheme proposes should be enough of a deterrent against it but, if not, we have only to think of the effect this will have on the students.

If there is any clearer way to make them feel as if they are not trusted and that we, the adults around them, have no faith in their judgment, I cannot think of it.

Heavy-handed and blunt approaches to teenage drug use have been tried elsewhere and met the kind of results they will face in Hong Kong. The whole situation is indicative of an outdated attitude to prevention of drug abuse among our teenagers.

I see advertisements on buses and in MTR stations using the same scare tactics that have been attempted in America and Britain, instead of sensible drug education policies. I suspect they will have the same net result in Hong Kong as they had in those countries: no noticeable positive effect. Our teenagers today are educated enough not to take these dramatic attempts to scare them seriously, while information that would be useful to them - the facts as we know them about drugs - are shied away from.

We have two choices to take on drug policy. One is to threaten teenagers about the effects of drugs, drug-test them and hound them until we round up every last teenage drug user. The other is to work with teenagers, not against them, to provide education and rational advice and support, rather than suspicion, where needed.

Sam Bessant, Lamma

Vouchers won't solve our crisis

Some people have argued that the government should issue shopping vouchers, but I do not think they will work in the short or long terms.

It is difficult to tell if these vouchers would encourage people to spend more than the face value of the voucher. If they did, it might go some way to stimulating the economy, but who can say for sure?

The reason so many people are reluctant to spend is because they feel insecure about their investments. Those who decide to spend money during this recession will do so with or without the coupons.

If people do not spend more than the value of the coupon, what is the point of giving it out? It would be no different from the government giving the money directly to retailers. A voucher scheme was tried in Chengdu , and local economists said it did little to help.

Having events like the computer festival, which was held earlier this month, and the BookFest@HongKong2008, is a more effective short-term measure to help stimulate our economy.

Denise Tam, Kowloon Bay

Citybus owes us an answer

In his Public Eye column ('Taken for a ride with blatant prejudice', December 17), Michael Chugani rightly castigates Citybus for its refusal to provide a bus for Hong Kong's first gay-pride parade. Its refusal to explain what it calls a 'commercial decision' can only lead us to conclude that it is discriminating against Hong Kong's sexual minorities, in a way that is unlikely to be justifiable under the terms of its government operating licence.

The government should hold Citybus to account for its public contempt for a section of the community, and behaviour that flies in the face of the government's published policies. If our politicians doubted the need to enact a law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, they can have no doubt now.

Discrimination in Hong Kong is usually well hidden, though always ugly. Now it has been made blatant.

Citybus owes Hong Kong an answer. It has clearly chosen to forget that about 10 per cent of its passengers are from one sexual minority or another.

Were they to turn to minibuses, the MTR or their feet in protest against Citybus' actions, the company might be forced to reassess what it considers a 'commercial decision'.

This writer, for one, will not be travelling by Citybus again until the company explains its actions fully or apologises.

Nigel Collett, Pok Fu Lam

A real budget airline needed

Air travel was always expensive until the relatively recent advent of low-cost carriers, which we now see all over the world. But the current ones in the city - Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express - hardly qualify as low-cost carriers when you compare their fares with full-service airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Dragonair.

As a world-class city, Hong Kong should have its own genuine budget carrier with 'real' low fares. It should not follow the footsteps of the defunct Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, flying long-haul and thereby decreasing its utilisation of aircraft.

The Airport Authority should turn Terminal 2 into a low-cost carrier terminal and lower the landing fees for these airlines. This has already been done elsewhere in the region, for example with Malaysia's AirAsia and Macau's Viva Macau.

If the Airport Authority took this step it would inevitably increase the number of tourists coming to Hong Kong, directly helping the local economy in these hard times.

Samuel Chan, Sha Tin

Civic debate

I refer to the letter from the Lion Rock Institute's research director, Andrew Shuen ('Neocon label harms debate', December 17), which mentioned the Civic Party's recent civic debate on the minimum wage. I feel some clarification is needed.

The Civic Party's English Language Group organises civic debates, normally on a monthly basis, on various topics of interest, covering political, economic and social issues.

These debates, which are sometimes discussions rather than formal debates, are open to the public, are publicised in the media and are free.

Invariably, the majority of those attending are not Civic Party members.

This was the case at the civic debate discussion on the minimum wage that Mr Shuen referred to in his letter.

I agree with him that the discussion was 'spirited', but surely that is what a debate or discussion is all about?

John Shannon, deputy convenor, English Language Group, Civic Party

Wasted food

Sarah Li ('Appalled by waste of food', December 10) referred to the amount of food wasted by hotels and wondered if there was any solution to the problem.

I am sure hotels would like to be able to give away the food that is not eaten at buffets, but a lot of this food goes bad quickly, and this can pose a health risk. Therefore, it is easier to throw it away.

It would be good for hotels to sit down with green groups and discuss environmentally-friendly solutions regarding the disposal of food.

Kathleen Ng, Diamond Hill