PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am

How should trees be protected and managed?

The 'tree squad' has been active in Happy Valley, with several more large old trees being chopped down in the past few weeks.

It seems any tree that is less than 100 per cent healthy or is growing at a slight angle is subjected to their attention.

At least in the case of the magnificent old acacia tree that used to stand at the junction of Sing Woo Road and Upper Blue Pool Road, new trees have been planted.

However, these three small saplings are pathetic substitutes that will never replace the cool green shade of the landmark acacia.

Where are the foresight and planning within this administration to ensure a succession for valuable old trees?

Instead of the now-customary knee-jerk reaction to any minor problem, perhaps the 'trees department' could identify those trees most at risk because of age or condition and establish a plan and timetable to replace them with identical semi-mature specimens, either grown adjacent to the existing tree or at a nursery for transplanting at the appropriate time.

That the Jockey Club could transplant two enormous banyan trees in Happy Valley proves that this is technically possible.

Perhaps the administration could also address one of the major underlying reasons for the sick trees in Hong Kong, namely by demonstrating the same alacrity and vigour that it shows in hacking down trees to tackling the serious issue of the city's air pollution.

Paul Gardiner, Happy Valley

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?

I doubt if enough is being done. It astonishes me to see some people continuing to smoke indoors at venues where it is banned, even on the ground floor.

This reveals the inadequacy in the government's enforcement policy.

The deterrent effect is inadequate, as smokers think that if they flout the law they will not be caught.

A more worrying problem is that the owners of some bars and mahjong parlours are turning a blind eye to smoking inside their establishments.

They will not strictly follow the law, as they do not shoulder any legal responsibilities, even if someone is caught smoking on their premises. They do not want to lose customers, especially during the present economic downturn. Clearly there is a loophole in the law.

Even if some bar owners do try to stop customers lighting up, they have no powers.

Therefore, more manpower should be allocated to enforce the law.

Frederic Lam Hei-wai, Kwun Tong

What do you think of the drug-testing system?

I support the government's decision to start random drug testing as part of its efforts to deal with the drug abuse problem among teenagers, which is getting worse.

It is not just that drugs are dangerous, but taking them can lead young people to commit crimes such as theft to pay for their drugs. They may even get involved in selling drugs to finance their habit.

Once they are arrested, their prospects in life are at risk.

However, I have some misgivings about the scheme outlined by officials. Schools will not have to join it. Some might refuse, because they are concerned that if some of their students test positive, the reputation of the school will be damaged.

For the system to work, it should be made compulsory.

Also, I have queries about who will do the tests. I would like to see an organisation like the Christian Zheng Sheng College carrying out the tests, because it could help with counselling if students tested positive.

The government has said students who test positive will not be punished.

I believe such pupils should be made to do community service; otherwise, there is no deterrent effect.

The government must give more serious thought to the drug-testing system it has devised. There should be more public consultation, so that when the full scheme is implemented, it is actually effective.

Victor Lau Ho-yin, Kwun Tong

What do you think of the speed-limiter plan for minibuses?

I refer to the report 'Speed limiters on 2 minibuses for three years' (August 5).

Apparently the speed limiters have performed well. Therefore the government must explain why it is talking about breakthroughs in technology now, given that these devices have been in operation for three years. Why has the government been so slow in responding to the problem of speeding, and often dangerous, minibuses?

Since most minibus drivers have refused to exert self-control to limit their speed, it is only natural that the government should impose restraints for the sake of safety.

There have been a number of fatal accidents involving minibuses in the past three years. The government should have been more diligent and acted more swiftly to deal effectively with the speeding problem. I urge the government to come up with a proper strategy to control speeding minibuses.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

On other matters ...

I have been a Cable TV subscriber since 1996 and have paid my monthly charges since then by autopay.

Recently, because of the death of my husband, I had to change bank-account numbers and applied for an autopay change with Cable TV.

I received a telephone call first from the company acknowledging receipt of my application and advice that it would require six to eight weeks for the autopay to activate, which I understand to be a normal procedure. Then I received another call from someone at Cable TV's customer service instructing me to prepay for three months' charges before it would process my autopay application.

I have never heard of such a practice and asked customer service to send me a bill or an actual statement. I was told it does not have a policy to send out such invoices and that it was always done through the phone.

In all my years of dealing with Cable TV, I have never been able to talk to any supervisor or anyone polite over the phone, and would like to hear from the company on this ridiculous policy of a subscriber having to prepay charges for three months when applying for autopay, and the so-called practice of not sending out invoices for this charge.

Annie Cheng, Mid-Levels