Making a mess in Lantau Country Park
There are two horrendous examples of vandalism being carried out in Lantau Country Park, by a utility company and a government department.
CLP Power and its contractor are installing cables to improve the electricity supply to South Lantau. They have been digging up the length of the old Tung Chung Road.
The works may be necessary, and after completion will not substantially alter the appearance of the road. However, all anyone has to do is look down the slopes below where the work is being carried out to view the mess that is being created. Construction waste, plastic bottles, foam lunch boxes and all manner of non-biodegradable litter have been thrown down the slopes below all the work sites on the road.
The second example is the continuing maintenance work by contractors for the Water Supplies Department.
This affects the catchwater that runs above South Lantau Road and intercepts the old Tung Chung Road above Cheung Sha.
As with the CLP project, the slopes below any of the work sites are littered with large amounts of plastic and other waste materials that will be there for thousands of years.
In both instances, it should surely be possible for the relevant government department to inspect the sites after the work has been completed and fine whoever is responsible HK$1,500 for each item of litter.
I am not an expert, but it seems to me that the Water Services Department finds needless maintenance projects so that it can keep its annual budget at the same level.
This also increases contractors' profits.
I see so many completely pointless additions of ugly railings, expensive stainless steel and seemingly senseless concrete pouring, in the name of 'maintenance'.
They have begun painting sections of the catchwater with a glossy paint, which looks ugly. I also question the use of paint, given that this is for drinking water.
Surely, there should be incentives so that the department and its managers will be rewarded if they are able to reduce annual expenditure, rather than maintaining it at the same level whether or not the work is actually required.
If the whole budget is not spent, perhaps the excess amount could be put into a well-managed fund every year and the profits returned to the people via the government.
Alternatively, the money could be allocated by the department for major works. Whatever is decided, there must be better ways for a government department to manage expenditure.
Peter Millward, Lantau
Elderly need MTR escalator
When I moved to Lai Chi Kok in 2004, I was surprised to learn that at the MTR station there were no escalators to take people directly from the concourse level to the ground floor. This means that when my 80-year-old mother comes to visit me from her apartment in Diamond Hill, she has to take a minibus to Tsz Wan Shan, then bus number 2F and another minibus to get to my housing estate.
The journey one way can take her up to two hours.
I appreciate the efforts made by the MTR Corp in recent years to improve facilities for handicapped people.
The platforms at all its stations have special stair lifts to take people in wheelchairs from the concourse to ground level. However, there are a lot of residents who are not wheelchair-bound but who have difficulty walking.
I am sure senior citizens find it difficult and sometimes painful to have to climb stairs, especially if they need to use a walking stick. They would benefit from the installation of an escalator.
My mother is just one of the thousands of commuters in the city who have difficulty walking.
Rather than providing subsidised fares, I think more senior citizens would appreciate it if the MTR could make travelling on the network a bit easier for them.
There is a new exit being built at Lai Chi Kok and I hope the MTR will choose that location to build its escalator.
Wong Pui-yee, Lai Chi Kok
Bold vision for waterfront
After reading Dick Groves' letter ('Restored Queen's Pier can be part of a vibrant waterfront', December 29), I decided to have a look at his website (www.queenspier.com).
The concepts he presents, I have to say, are incredible. I have always dreamed of having a Manhattan-type Central Park on our waterfront and Mr Groves seems to have captured this essence albeit with substantially more creative ideas.
I would like to use this forum as a chance to applaud him for his efforts in helping to create a more vibrant Hong Kong. We have the chance of a lifetime to turn the city's new waterfront into something special. Instead, to me, it seems the government is determined to build more shopping centres and commercial space.
Perhaps someone from the administration can chime in with some real answers on why Mr Groves' concepts are not even being pushed forward as an alternative reality.
Wasn't the whole point of the reclamation to alleviate traffic congestion in Central?
Daniel Zigal Jr., The Peak
Compassion in short supply
The reports on dogs being maimed by boar traps ('Illegal boar traps suspected in maiming of dogs', December 18; 'SPCA officers put down maimed dog', December 19) and reminded me that many animals are at risk of being hurt in Hong Kong and that sometimes it is not unintentional.
Hong Kong people need to be more responsible when it comes to looking after animals.
Some people buy a pet when it is young and then, when it is fully grown, they discard it because it is no longer so cute. They do the same if the animal falls ill. The animal is left to fend for itself.
I wish these individuals would think before buying a pet and try not to be so selfish.
People should treat their pets as a member of their family and care for them even when they become ill and require treatment.
Tazz So, Tung Chung
Crack down on rogue schools
Some tutorial schools try to appeal to young people by making exaggerated claims about how many of their students got A grades in their exams.
Many young people are taken in by the adverts making these false claims and sign up to study at the schools. Tutorial colleges are making a lot of money because of this, but I have grave doubts about their effectiveness.
I think the government has to look into this situation and if it is proved that a particular tutorial college has made false claims, then it should be punished for misleading people. A task force should be set up that can monitor the colleges and investigate any claims of misleading information being given to the public.
At the same time, potential customers also have a responsibility to find out more about a college before they apply for a course.
Tse Ching-lok, Tsz Wan Shan
Stick to one kindergarten
Since the launch of the pre-primary education voucher scheme in 2007, some parents have decided to send their children to two kindergartens. They think that, by doing this, their children will be better equipped to face their academic studies when they start school.
I do not think it will help them. Kindergarten teaching is very different from school. In fact, if such young children face a heavy workload it might undermine their interest in studying.
Secondary students in Hong Kong are put under a great deal of pressure, with about eight hours of school a day. Young children should not have to face such long hours at kindergarten level.
They should be spending more time at home because this is a critical period when parents can develop a good relationship with their children.
Parents may live to regret missing out on this quality time when their children are older.
Morty Choi, Tsz Wan Shan
The practice of compensated dating originates in Japan. Older men offer money to teenage girls in exchange for companionship and even sex. It is becoming more frequent in Hong Kong and the government and parents need to tackle the problem.
I think some teenagers get involved in compensated dating because they want to make quick money and buy brand-name products.
Others may be unhappy at home and feel their parents do not care about them.
They mistakenly think they might find love by getting involved in compensated dating.
Some media coverage can lead them to think that it is not that big a deal.
Schools need to hold moral education classes to instil the right kind of values in pupils and these values should be reinforced by the government.
Also, parents need to show their children that they care about them and take time to talk with them about any problems that they have.
Theresa Wan, Tin Shui Wai
I refer to the report ('Caregiver jailed, fined for forcing faeces into elderly woman's mouth', December 30).
Magistrate Symon Wong Yu-wing said that the caregiver would be 'punished by heaven'.
I do not believe that magistrates should bring their personal beliefs into the courtroom.
There is absolutely no evidence that anyone will be punished by heaven and Mr Wong should not have made this comment.
Will Lai, Western