PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 September, 2010, 12:00am

'Leave car at home' plea will fall on deaf ears

I have doubts about the Take a Break Low Carbon Action campaign, asking motorists to leave their cars at home one day per month to reduce carbon emissions. It will have about as much impact as those tepid cartoon-style posters that depict people choking on exhaust fumes, while appealing to motorists not to let their engines idle - that is, none.

People who drive private cars do so for their own convenience. It is surprisingly naive to think that wealthy private car owners (it is expensive to drive here) will sacrifice their comfort for the public good.

Human nature being what it is, and with our colonial mindset thrown in for good measure, the only hope of getting motorists to behave in a more socially responsible way is through education and legislation.

It requires 10 to 20 years to educate a generation to behave less selfishly. Therefore, the only practical hope of curbing vehicle pollution in Hong Kong is to legislate.

Given that before they arrive to cast their votes, most of our Legco members have just alighted from plush, chauffeur-driven, fume-spewing cars, don't hold your breath waiting for such laws to be passed.

Kara Young, Kowloon Tong

Keep flats off cultural site

I was very disappointed to learn that the West Kowloon Cultural District has 20 per cent of its land allocated for housing.

Therefore, I was so glad to read the letter from the group of professionals called Hong Kong Alternatives voicing their opposition to this allocation ('Arts hub residential design code could create park for super-rich', September 6).

There are enough apartments around the cultural district site already, and all have been using the future arts hub as one of their selling points.

With this important project the government should not give in to the property developers.

The cultural district site is not that large. However, if the government thinks it has an abundance of space, then build more car parks so that Hongkongers can drive to the various arts events, such as concerts and operas.

M. Goh, Happy Valley

Give Shenzhen more freedom

It is 30 years since the establishment of the Shenzhen special economic zone ('Hu hails the miracle of Shenzhen', September 7).

I am sure we are all impressed by the astonishing pace of the city's economic development. The past 30 years have witnessed the significant growth in the economy and population of the city.

However, it is regrettable that political reforms lag far behind this economic growth. Progress towards democratisation is slow. Political and civic rights are usurped and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

These factors can cause social instability and this could adversely affect the city's economic performance. It is high time the central government introduced more liberal political reforms.

I would like to see Shenzhen and other developed coastal cities becoming more democratic.

Michael Ko, Sham Shui Po

Angered by church's plans

Who, exactly, are these people ('Church will go ahead with changes to historic wall', September 2), other than the Reverend John Menear, that comprise the 'we' who 'believe that the proposed plan is a sensitive compromise'?

Any plan that proposes destroying a part of the little that is left of Hong Kong's heritage is about as insensitive as one can get.

How can replacing a part of a 104-year-old stone wall with modern plate glass (at St Andrew's Church) be seen by anyone as 'preserving the beauty of the site and the adjoining Nathan Road'?

For once, please will Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Legco get their acts together, call a timely meeting, if necessary, and stop this act of sabotage?

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Persevere to learn English

I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon's article ('To learn English, get over the fear of using it', September 1). He says that if 'you don't use it, you lose it'.

There is no denying that practice makes perfect, especially when you are learning a new language. I think students must read, write and speak English repeatedly if they want to improve. But they must go about the learning process in the proper fashion.

It is common for young people now, when sending text messages or chatting on Facebook, to use abbreviations. 'Oh my God' becomes 'omg', 'see you' is 'cu'.

Another problem students can encounter comes down to what I would call attitude. Students will encounter difficulties when learning a language, and this may put them off.

For example, I wanted to practise speaking English so that I could become more fluent and improve my pronunciation.

However, when I tried to speak to people I was ignored.

I gradually lost confidence and felt too embarrassed to use English in public.

Such psychological obstacles can be very difficult to overcome but schools can help with this. I am fortunate in that my school provides a lot of English activities, such as mentor and reading schemes, lunch-time shows and English-language morning assemblies.

Thanks to these activities and the interaction I experienced, my enthusiasm for the language was revived.

Students have to be willing to make the effort, but their persistence can pay off and eventually they should be able to use the language in their daily lives and communicate with foreigners in English.

Students should cherish each opportunity they have to practise the language.

Jason Chu Hung-shing, Lai Chi Kok

Channel cannot be shown here

David Hodges ('SuperSport the best option,' September 7) suggests an easy way to meet sports fans' desires in Hong Kong: if PCCW procured access to the South African SuperSport channel.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. SuperSport does not hold the rights to distribute its content in Hong Kong (or anywhere outside of its authorised markets in Africa). So even if PCCW or another TV distributor in Hong Kong tried to procure the SuperSport programming, it would fail. SuperSport could not license its channels to be broadcast here.

Sports broadcasting presents some of the most complex challenges in the international media business. Broadcasting rights for sporting events are owned by the leagues or associations that organise the individual sports. A sports broadcaster - such as ESPN Star Sports, Eurosport, SuperSport or indeed PCCW or HK Cable TV - must enter into a laborious process of bidding and assembling rights from each league or agent for each and every market where the broadcaster markets its channels. Channel aggregators are constrained by the willingness (or unwillingness) of sports leagues to sell their games across national boundaries.

The expatriate sports market in Asia, while of central importance to English speakers here, is simply not large enough to engage the commercial interest of a faraway sports channel which is rightly focused on serving its millions of viewers in Africa.

There are, however, a growing number of regional and local sports channels focused on serving Asian markets and assembling an increasingly comprehensive bouquet of programming to meet Asian consumers' needs.

Simon Twiston Davies, CEO, Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia

Thai women treated unfairly

I am a Thai national who has lived abroad for almost 40 years.

I have lived on three different continents and many of the Thai women I have met are sick of being seen as in some way connected to the country's sex trade.

We have been interrogated and harangued while travelling through the airports of major cities. It is embarrassing and humiliating. Your report on the sex trade in Thailand focuses on Burmese girls ('II's merry-go-round of misery in Thailand', September 7).

They are not the only ones who become part of this slave trade. Girls from the border areas of underprivileged provinces are also victims.

They represent a tiny section of our society and I wish people would look at the bigger picture when it comes to Thai women and think of the many women who have played heroic roles in our history. Schooling is free in Thailand and many of us are well educated. For some young women it is easier to sell yourself than work towards a diploma.

I hope our government will focus on cleaning up the country's image.

Amara Forster, Mid-Levels

Shameful side of Hong Kong

Crystal Leung's letter ('Elderly should not have to endure cage-home conditions', September 7) serves as an especially timely reminder that we ourselves are far from being a model, perfectly run society.

The shameful existence of Hong Kong's cage homes is a burning issue that reflects poorly on all of us.

It merits a protest march - directed towards our own authorities - by the tens of thousands or many more who, proverbially and literally, live in glass houses.

Joe Spitzer, The Peak