PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am

Simple regulations can protect children getting off school buses

Last month, our eight-year-old son was alighting from his school bus and was almost killed by a driver who did not have time to wait for a stopped school bus. The driver skidded off the road to avoid him and drove away. It is only a matter of time before another child is seriously injured or killed by a passing motorist.

In many jurisdictions, school buses are required by law to be easily identified as a school bus (painted yellow) and to have 'stop arms' that stick out in the road so motorists are warned that a child may be crossing. We have yet to see a school bus in Hong Kong with either of those safety features.

Hopefully we are missing something, but the only thing that we could find in the road safety guide that is published by the Hong Kong government is a warning to drivers to 'drive slowly near schools and look out for children getting on or off buses'. More needs to be done. This is an issue that needs further attention. Many countries have stiff penalties and even jail time for offenders that pass school buses.

We encourage bus companies to make school buses more visible and for the Transport Department to require such visibility as part of the licensing scheme. The government should also consider putting in place a regulation that makes passing a school bus dropping a student off illegal. Amend Regulation 38(2), 'failure to stop for a school crossing patrol', to include a stationary school bus with the passenger disembarking.

Some very simple, common-sense modifications by a few parties could help prevent a tragedy that may have been easily avoided.

Chris and Shannon Nelson, Tai Tam

Construction site safety record has improved

There have been a few letters published on work site safety.

With one honourable exception, the one thing they have in common is their superficiality and lack of checking the facts.

In the last 15 or so years the contractors backed by, for example, the Labour Department, the Hong Kong Construction Association and the Lighthouse Club have, each in their own way, worked hard on site safety.

They have driven the fatality rate down from one per week to one per month.

Also, the point that has been missed by all the published scribes is that, with the exception of the recent tragedy at the International Commerce Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, half the fatalities involved a single person doing maintenance work, not workers operating on a construction site.

The challenge is how we reach this group of tradesmen to train them not to take risks.

Registration of all construction- related workers only goes part of the way. How do we monitor the activities of single operators doing maintenance work? This is a worldwide challenge.

I have spoken with experts here and overseas. They all have this problem.

Letters containing useful and practical suggestions would be very welcome.

Peter Berry, Lamma

Social workers struggle to help at-risk families

The tragedy in Tuen Mun in which two children died highlighted the plight of some groups of people in Hong Kong, especially from the grass roots.

It also showed that our social workers need more help. Social workers are there to help people who feel neglected.

However, they must sometimes feel a bit neglected, since we often seem to ignore the pressures that they face in their jobs. We must all try to create a more healthy and optimistic atmosphere in our city.

There should be a greater understanding of the plight of people who are victims of domestic violence.

In a practical sense, the government has a responsibility to allocate more resources in order to help them.

These problem families should know there is somewhere they can go to when they are in trouble where they can get the sort of advice they need about how to deal with their emotional problems. Social workers who are under pressure also need to know that they can get help to deal with that pressure.

The government has to take prompt action to deal with the problem affecting these at-risk families and the people tasked with helping them.

Rachel Chan Yan-kiu, Kwun Tong

New policy needed on dispensing medicine

The separation of prescribing and dispensing medicine has been accepted practice for Western and many Eastern countries for decades.

It is of paramount importance, for the sake of reliability and consistency, that we follow this practice. And yet Hong Kong's health care system is failing to catch up with this global trend.

Following a number of pharmaceutical blunders there has been heated debate about having a comprehensive policy. But mistakes are soon forgotten and no plan has been tabled.

Separating prescribing from dispensing allows for a two-way monitoring system for medical practitioners and pharmacists. It can ensure patients are kept away from inappropriate or incorrect medication. Pharmacists can also provide professional advice on the effects and intake of drugs.

Certainly, the implementation of such a system in Hong Kong needs time and preparation. The government should gradually increase the number of pharmacy training programme places so we have more qualified pharmacists.

Daniel Ho Ka-chun, Sha Tin

We should build a statue of opera legend

I refer to the article on the playwright Tong Tik-sang ('A giant in the Cantonese opera canon', October 25).

Although kung fu superstar Bruce Lee did nothing as remarkable as Tong, who was a genius, Lee already has a statue in his honour and his home in Kowloon Tong is to be turned into a museum.

I hope that something similar can be done for Tong, for the sake of his fans around the globe.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels


It is not a good idea for a culture-oriented secondary school to offer students professional Cantonese opera training.

It is an old-fashioned extra-curricular activity. Therefore, there will not be sufficient interest to justify opening a training course.

Instead of wasting money on this kind of activity, schools should conduct a poll on which activities the students would like.

Wan Ka-yan, Sha Tin

Vines would look nice

In refer to the report ('Bright railings have residents seeing red', October 25), regarding the coloured railings on bridges and flyovers. A Highways Department spokeswoman said the department welcomed views on colours.

While it would carry a cost, it would be nice if the department followed Guangzhou's lead and draped the railings on some of our busier routes with the flowered vines that our subtropical climate can support. They make quite an impression.

Dick Groves, Wan Chai