Poor effort to understand arts sector
Studies and research undertaken to establish the needs of the arts sector in Hong Kong have been badly directed compared to other, similar efforts in the region.
Since the handover in 1997, the Central Policy Unit (CPU) and Home Affairs Bureau, which are responsible for the development of cultural policy in Hong Kong, have provided only nine reports on the cultural and arts sectors. This does not compare favourably with Singapore's National Arts Council. How can the government formulate policies that meet the needs of the arts sector if it does not have enough data to work with?
Also, the data obtained in Hong Kong has not been properly analysed. For instance, when the CPU and the Home Affairs Bureau were looking at human resources in the arts sector, it was not made clear what kind of people were needed to do the work required.
The Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) published an annual arts survey about audience distribution, event types and ticket prices, but it did not conclude with any policy recommendations. In Singapore there is much deeper analysis of collected data. Officials there have calculated the economic contributions that can be made by the arts and cultural sector.
The studies in Hong Kong are not systematic. In South Korea there is an arts library run by the Arts Council of Korea, where you can find studies and research related to arts and culture. Also, the Korea Arts and Culture Education Service has been established to conduct studies on arts and cultural education policies.
The CPU, Home Affairs Bureau and ADC should be co-operating and co-ordinating their research. Joint efforts would be more efficient and the data collected would be of greater use.
We should look at the policies that have been adopted by countries like South Korea and Singapore and learn from them.
Kolie Lam, Ngau Chi Wan
URA must rein in landlords
I was shocked when I learned about the collapse of the tenement in To Kwa Wan in January that killed four people.
I did not expect a tragedy like this to happen in an advanced city like Hong Kong. We must ensure that this does not happen again and so I do not think the Urban Renewal Authority's powers should be curtailed ('Bid to curb URA's role in redevelopment', February 24).
Sometimes, the URA will have to issue a compulsory purchase order. There are unscrupulous property owners out there who can put the lives of others at risk. They accept subsidies to renovate property and then do nothing.
The safety of the public should be the priority, so the URA must be able to keep its powers.
However, there is room for improvement when it comes to the government's urban planning policies, with the provision of more public housing. Because of rising demand we should demolish low-rise homes and build more high-rises.
These construction projects will lead to job opportunities for people in the construction sector.
The owners of these old buildings which are demolished will not suffer as they will receive adequate compensation.
Wong Chung-ming, Wong Tai Sin
Benefits follow rail network
I refer to the report ('China plans Asia-Europe rail network', March 8). I hope the vision of the high-speed railway network from China to Europe becomes a reality.
Rail is the most efficient form of public transport. It is more convenient for passengers because it is less time-consuming than flying. You spend less time at check-in. You simply go to the railway station, compared to an airport - which is normally some distance from the centre of a city.
Take the case of Hong Kong. The railway terminal linking us with mainland cities is in Hung Hom. It is far closer than the airport. Also, railways can boost economies. They can help local businesses and the tourism sector since they make it easier to move from one country to the next.
I appreciate that the cost of infrastructure projects will be high and profits may be low. But sometimes you have to look at the benefits that will come from a project and which may be of greater importance than the profit motive.
Jack Tam, Sham Tseng
Another attack goes unsolved
There was yet another acid attack in Sham Shui Po on Sunday. The police do not appear to be close to solving these crimes and I have been annoyed by the government adverts on TV relating to the attacks.
In the clips, Hong Kong people are being encouraged to be overly suspicious. If you see a man walking past your block with a plastic bag, be really worried - it might be an acid bomb. If there are people you don't know walking up the stairs of your building, be very nervous.
If you are visiting a friend's apartment for the first time and find yourself walking up the stairs of a building, be ready to have the police coming after you for your identity card.
Is paranoia an effective measure to protect yourself from another acid attack?
While it is true that we are living in a big city and vigilance is sometimes necessary for us to guard ourselves from potential crimes, these public broadcast messages make me have doubts about our police force.
This is the same law enforcement agency that sends out large numbers of officers whenever there is a rally.
As a child, I and many of my classmates aspired to become policemen when we grew up.
Thinking back, I've come to realise that sometimes it is not so bad when your dreams don't come true.
On a Saturday night I was walking along Hollywood Road and saw at least three police cars with about a dozen policemen in them.
I thought something bad must have happened.
As it turned out, they were checking everyone's ID in a bar.
Wouldn't these officers be putting their skills to better use by going after criminals?
Ho Lai-kit, Mid-Levels
Safety moves stepped up
I refer to the letter by Michael Thian ('Act now to prevent accident at park', February 28) regarding the improper use of the jogging track at Victoria Park by some people.
The jogging track lies along the periphery of the central lawn, with a number of access points and fitness stations along the way. Some people occasionally stroll along the jogging track, which may cause an obstruction to joggers.
We have therefore put up signs and banners at conspicuous locations along the jogging track to advise the public on the proper use of the jogging track. A security guard has also been deployed along the track to advise joggers to follow the direction of flow, to keep left if they slow down and to advise non-joggers to leave the track so as to avoid clashes and accidents.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and strengthen our patrols at the jogging track to ensure safety and proper use of the facility.
Stephen Leung, manager (Victoria Park), Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Plenty of green all round
I could not agree more with Mary Melville ('Developers should pay for green features on their buildings', March 2).
It makes no sense for the government to grant plot ratio bonuses in order to coerce developers to do the right thing.
If these features are genuinely utilised they give benefit to the user and have a marketable value. It is a sad reflection on Hong Kong's redevelopment industry that most participants only consider building bigger rather than building better, and prefer promotion to product.
The green features are aptly named, as officials turned green when they did not anticipate the manner in which developers would exploit this initiative for profit.
The tycoons are astute and their influence within Legco and Exco sees to it that loopholes are sewn into the fabric of regulations, particularly those dealing with land, planning and development. Our property tycoons love green - after all, it is the colour of money.
Christian Rogers, Mid-Levels
Get to bottom of drug scourge
The statistics regarding drug use in primary and secondary schools should give cause for concern.
I cannot believe that so many students are willing to get involved in such a dangerous game.
We need to try to understand why so many teenagers are turning to illicit drugs.
Some of them may do this because of the stress brought on by their studies, and others may have an unhappy home life.
If we can have a better understanding of the problem then we have a better chance of dealing with it.
Morality lessons should be introduced in primary schools so that young children are taught the difference between right and wrong. Young people are the future pillars of society. We have to find effective ways to help our troubled teenagers.
Mario Leung Ka-on, Tai Kok Tsui
Saliva tests the best option
I support the proposal to introduce a saliva test to screen drivers for drugs.
Tough penalties should be imposed for those people who test positive.
This test can help to prevent road traffic accidents and the resulting casualties.
Drug tests and stiff penalties can act as a deterrent for those motorists who are tempted to ingest illegal drugs before getting behind the wheel of a car.
Ryan Chung, Tsuen Wan