PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 July, 2010, 12:00am

Parents must take time to talk with children

A 16-year-old student wanted to commit suicide after a row with her classmates. A 17-year-old student jumped to his death citing unhappiness and a couple, both aged 14, committed suicide.

These deaths, although shocking, offer a window on the lives of young Hongkongers over the past two months.

Paul Yip, head of the suicide research centre at the University of Hong Kong, has noted that youth suicides have gone up while overall the number of suicides has dropped. Youth suicide is a topic that exposes many layers and issues troubling society.

Some people argue that the suicide rate has gone up because of unbearable workloads at school and family pressure. Others cite drug abuse and lack of support from families and teachers as causal factors.

Recent research has shown that there are more divorces and incidences of domestic violence. A survey conducted last year showed children are the main victims and parents the most common abusers.

KELY Support Group has been working with young people for the past 19 years. We have found that youths in Hong Kong do not ask for much.

Many are seeking a warm and loving home environment where they can be heard without being judged, where their feelings can be validated and acknowledged, and where they can find positive solutions to their problems.

At KELY we try to provide a safe, non-judgmental, empathetic and confidential space for young people to address their issues.

We connect young people with their peers through positive interaction and encouragement.

Our bilingual helpline and texting service aims to offer emotional support for young people with various life problems, with suicide and drug abuse being our two biggest priorities.

While we believe that there are many young people who do not feel like talking to their parents about issues, it is crucial to recognise that parents have a central role to play.

Although many parents are already dealing with their own daily struggles, we encourage them to take at least 10 minutes a day to sit down and really listen to their children, without judging and with an open mind.

If young people are indeed our greatest resource, we as a society need to ensure that their future is worth investing in and that we are able to provide them with all the love, understanding and empathy they need.

In a caring society, it is our responsibility to help our young people help themselves to a brighter future.

Chung Tang, executive director, KELY Support Group

Judiciary's role is so important

It seems that there are a great many people in Hong Kong who fail to understand the importance of our judicial system.

Among the critics is Ronnie Chan Chichung, chairman of Hang Lung Properties ('Democrats are weakening HK, tycoon says', July 15).

Mr Chan welcomed the early retirement of Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang and said the judiciary 'wrongly think they are so almighty that they can rule on everything'.

In fact, the very reason people like Mr Chan can still express their opinions in public without fear of political persecution is because of our fine legal system.

Mr Chan, like many pro-Beijing figures in Hong Kong, seems to think that our judiciary is 'too independent' and should listen to the government.

Without our excellent judiciary Hong Kong would quickly become yet another corrupt and repressive Asian city.

Therefore, it is time that these people woke up and realised that the only reason for their continued freedom and prosperity is due in very large part to the very judges that they criticise.

Linda Choi, Quarry Bay

Get tough with drug-drivers

After several accidents involving drivers who were under the influence of drugs, the government plans new laws to combat drug-driving and tougher penalties including imprisonment.

I would be against a life driving ban for individuals convicted of drug-driving.

I accept that people who get behind the wheel of a vehicle after taking drugs put the lives of others at risk. But they should be given the chance to rehabilitate. If no one was hurt and it is a first offence, then a shorter ban could be imposed.

However, I would support longer prison sentences. Driving under the influence of drugs can be more dangerous than drink- driving.

I hope that harsher sentences can act as a deterrent and dissuade people from taking drugs before they drive.

The message has to be sent to all motorists that they should pay more attention when they are on the road so that we can reduce accident rates in Hong Kong.

Chan Sau-man, Lam Tin

Unhealthy reading habits

I agree with Ho Wing-kin ('Models send wrong message', July 23).

The main aim of the Hong Kong Book Fair is to encourage good reading habits rather than promote pseudo-models.

I went to the fair and a lot of youngsters were buying pictures of these young women. The focus was on them and their worrying behaviour.

Of course there are many teenagers who see this material for what it is and appreciate that it has a negative effect.

They realise that books exist to help us expand our knowledge and facilitate our studies. I think the pseudo-models also create a negative image of Hong Kong as their video clips will appear on the internet.

I hope that pictures of the pseudo-models will be banned from next year's book fair and that the emphasis will be on the development of having healthy reading habits.

We need to help young people develop reading habits that will last them a lifetime.

Isabel Tse, Wong Tai Sin

Bar staff do have responsibilities

I refer to the letter by M. Kang ('Stop bothering the bartenders', July 26).

Bartenders have an important role. They not only serve customers their drinks and food, they should also make sure the customers are in a safe and clean environment.

For example, if someone has already had too much to drink, the bartender should not serve that person any more alcohol and should try and persuade them to go home.

A good bartender will not tolerate anti-social behaviour in the bar, whether they own it or are 'just staff'. The same principle applies to smoking.

If people complain about other customers smoking in the bar, in clear violation of the law, staff should not ignore the problem. And if the smokers start to get abusive, then tobacco control officers and the police should be called.

Under the present law, if tobacco control officers are called, the bar owner is not responsible for customers smoking so has nothing to worry about regarding legal action. It is only the smoking customer who should be concerned.

Wouter van Marle, Tai Po

Bank must end promotion

It was recently brought to the attention of WWF that Citibank was promoting the consumption of sharks' fin for users of its credit cards.

After complaints, it ended the promotion in Hong Kong.

However, WWF has learned that it continues in Singapore.

Its spokesman told The New York Times that they had not received any complaints but would continue to monitor the situation.

This contradicts the bank's corporate social and environmental responsibility statements posted on its website.

WWF is deeply concerned that credit card issuers are offering discounted promotions on dishes where the ingredients include endangered species such as sharks, South African abalone and blue fin tuna.

Yet these same banks have such inspiringly worded commitments to preserving the environment for the benefit of their customers and future generations. If they have a genuine commitment, we call upon them to cease these kinds of promotions.

Eric A. Bohm, chief executive, WWF Hong Kong

Solar cells will not do the job

I agree with Kaster Lam Ka-kit ('Solar solution to idling dilemma', July 26) that a better solution to vehicle air- conditioning is needed.

However, electric solar cells are only about 19 per cent efficient at converting light to electricity, so I doubt that covering a car with them will provide enough power for the cooling required.

An absorption heat pump uses heat to directly drive the heat transfer and is therefore potentially far more efficient.

Can someone design an absorption heat pump that can be fitted to a vehicle?

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang

Costly flight

Last week I contacted a travel agency about flights to Sri Lanka. I wanted to fly with Cathay Pacific or Sri Lankan Airlines.

The basic economy seat on Cathay was HK$1,190 more expensive. How can there be such a huge disparity?

Even more amazing was the fact that Sri Lankan Airways would only be charging me HK$310 per person for all departure expenses whereas Cathay wanted $1,280.

Unless the travel agent made a mistake, I wonder why there was such a large difference in price.

Bob Beadman, Ma Wan