PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 12:00am

Should the smoking ban be delayed again?

Legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip, supposedly representing the rights and welfare of blue-collar workers, has been unable to delay the smoking ban legislation ('Attempt to delay smoking ban fails', May 12). Mr Chan wanted the imposition of the ban in nightclubs, bars and mahjong schools to be put off for a further two years. He sought to continue polices which had been followed by the Liberal Party and that had delayed the implementation of anti-smoking laws for six years. Mr Chan painted a picture of doom and gloom for the catering industry. The Liberal Party served the interests of tobacco companies and callously ignored the lethal consequences of passive smoking in the workplace.

George Tsai, chairman of the Bar and Club Association, and Lillian Chan Yun-lin, convenor of the Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group, have also promoted a doom-and-gloom scenario ('Rally to seek two-year delay in bar smoke ban', May 18). They are trying to hoodwink bar staff into believing they will be out of a job in a clean-air workplace. However, the fact is staff will be healthier and more productive and more non-smokers will visit bars when the air in these establishments is free of smoke.

The government, under pressure from the Liberal Party, foolishly allowed a 30-month exemption period for bars and nightclubs. It therefore abandoned the right to a safe workplace for bar workers. Contrary to the doom-and-gloom approach, Hong Kong restaurant receipts are higher than they were before the smoking ban was introduced, despite the global downturn.

Meanwhile on July 1 when the total ban comes into force, 3,485 people will have died here due to passive smoking during the 30-month exemption period.

Catering staff should realise that these people supposedly representing their interests have a different, hypocritical and misinformed agenda.

James Middleton, chairman, anti-tobacco committee, Clear the Air

How can the drink-driving message be promoted?

I think the police should hold more public talks to get across the message about the dangers posed by drink-driving. They could invite victims of accidents involving drink-drivers to the meetings to talk. The drivers could also address the meeting. Having people whose lives have been directly affected by drink-driving can make the message all the more potent. The police should also show photographs of accidents involving motorists who were under the influence. This can help members of the public appreciate the serious consequences of getting behind the wheel when you have been drinking.

Tsao Po-yee, Sha TinOn other matters ...

On behalf of the Tourism Board, I should like to respond to Harold Yeo's letter (Talkback, May 6).

We are sorry to learn of the frustrating experience that Mr Yeo encountered in obtaining information about the celebrations of the Tam Kung Festival, and apologise for any inconvenience that might have been caused to him.

We fully agree with Mr Yeo that it is important to give visitors correct information, and will certainly look for ways to do better. For instance, we will enhance our communication with event organisers to secure detailed event information well in advance, so that we can keep visitors updated on what is happening in the city.

On the promotion of cultural and religious activities, the board attaches great importance to local celebrations which help enrich visitors' experiences and their understanding of Hong Kong. Through different communication channels and public relations activities, such as arranging visits by overseas media, we widely publicise those activities of interest to the target-visitor segments, as well as our unique culture and heritage. And to help visitors explore our culture, we organise a Cultural Kaleidoscope programme of tours and classes, and devise, with the travel trade, tours of popular traditional festivals.

I would like to thank Mr Yeo for bringing the matter to our attention, and assure him that we will continue to try our best to provide visitors with the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Cynthia Leung, general manager, corporate affairs, Tourism Board

I refer to the letter by Kevin Saunders of the Wang Fung Terrace Concern Group (Talkback, May 13).

The suggested pedestrian crossing in question on Tai Hang Road would be there mainly to serve pedestrians to and from Wang Fung Terrace via a staircase along the roadside slope which was built many years ago.

We fully appreciate residents' concerns on road safety and in fact have been monitoring the situation with a view to exploring appropriate improvement measures under the restrictive site conditions. Recently, we have developed a plan to modify part of the staircase so as to provide more roadside spaces for pedestrians to wait for buses or cross the road. Meanwhile, we, in consultation with other departments, are also examining the engineering feasibility of cutting part of the existing slope and decking of an adjacent culvert so that spaces are made available for improving the pedestrian crossing facility at this location. If found feasible, we will consult concerned parties, including local residents regarding the proposal in due course.

Johnny C.P. Chan, engineer, Transport Department

I refer to the report 'What you see is not what you get', May 18.

I was interested to read the government's comments regarding artists' impressions of government projects. If officials are suggesting that the drawings are to give the public just a general view or rough idea, then they have missed the mark by a wide margin. They are also guilty of misleading the public, given that they talk about a 'green environment', 'open spaces' and 'beautifying the environment' when they present these drawings of 'future government projects'. It is hypocritical that the government on the one hand seeks favourable public opinion when promoting development projects with such inaccurate drawings, and then brushes them off as rough impressions when the project goes through. When we see these artists' impressions it gives us expectations. The government should own up to what it has done or, for example, plant the trees at a site where they were shown in the original drawing.

I will be interested to see the differences between the artists' impressions for the Kwun Tong redevelopment and the final outcome.

Mark Chung, Tai Po