PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 December, 2010, 12:00am

Bureau skirts issue to delight of developers

The development secretary has said that her bureau will stop providing gross floor area size when selling historic buildings, because the government 'may not have building plans for such historic buildings' ('Floor size estimates to go after tender row', December 9).

This is a further example of the Development Bureau burying its head in the sand when faced with an allegedly difficult problem.

The bureau employs more than 200 qualified surveyors in its different departments.

Are none of these highly qualified and highly paid staff capable of visiting the site and using a tape measure and preparing a plan sufficiently accurate to allow calculation of gross floor area?

If the bureau has no idea of the size of the building it is selling, how will it judge whether the tender prices submitted by developers are sufficiently competitive with prevailing market values?

The bureau's practice of burying its head in the sand whenever a problem arises explains how the developer lobby has so successfully taken over the driving seat in the realm of Hong Kong affairs.

W. F. Fan, Mid-Levels

Test may lead to rash decisions

I refer to the report 'New test for genetic defects non-invasive', (December 10).

Any advancement in technology that enables an earlier diagnosis of diseases is to be welcomed.

However, I am concerned that the DNA testing developed by Chinese University that can reveal hereditary diseases and congenital defects in fetuses as early as nine weeks into the pregnancy may have an adverse effect on the families involved.

Given that many hereditary diseases and congenital defects cannot be treated until the child is born, such an early revelation of genetic disorders may cause serious and prolonged anxiety and distress to the mother and other close family members. This will obviously impact badly on the pregnancy itself.

Such testing may further lead to an increase in abortion rates.

When they are informed of the disorders so early on, worried parents may be more inclined to terminate the pregnancy instead of giving the fetus a chance, irrespective of the possibility such disorders may not develop into crippling or life-threatening conditions and that better cures may become available.

The abortion may prove to be a rash decision that can lead to lifelong regret.

At present, the prohibitive cost of the test and its as yet unconfirmed accuracy rate render it decidedly impractical. But when such tests become popular, I hope that the medical profession will not ignore the psychological aspects of such testing so that no unintended tragedies will result from this kind of technical progress in the laboratory.

Joyce Siu, Tsing Yi

Fifa's image not squeaky clean

I refer to the report 'Fifa is not corrupt, insists Blatter as he blasts 'bad losers' England', (December 10).

The Fifa president asserts that 'we are clean and transparent' but does concede that his organisation needs a better image after the hosting contests when it was decided that Russia and Qatar were the winning candidates to stage the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

Both bids require massive infrastructure spending. As if on cue, I read the headlines 'Soccer fans, nationalists riot in central Moscow', (December 13) and 'Massacre exposes depth of corruption in Russia', (December 13). It is also amazing that, after the vote, leading members of Fifa's executive committee - including Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini - questioned the practicality of staging a World Cup in Qatar in June when the heat is so intense, as if they hadn't realised this fact before the decision to favour Qatar.

This heat will affect players and the hordes of travelling fans.

Moving the goalposts is apparently modus operandi for Fifa. Its mission statement says 'that Fifa must be a model of fair play, tolerance, sportsmanship and transparency' - in other words a level playing field. Yeah, right.

Roger Emmerton, Wan Chai

Mark Six still worthwhile

I disagree with Anthony Green ('Finished with Mark Six bets', December 14), who said he would stop buying Mark Six lottery tickets now their price has doubled.

Although the unit price per ticket is up from HK$10 to HK$20, you can purchase a half unit ticket for HK$10. Sure, with half units you will get less if you win, but simple arithmetic tells us that when that is the case, the jackpot size, if and when someone does win, will be greater.

I am sure that the vast majority of people who buy Mark Six tickets know that the chance of hitting the jackpot is slim and they do not have unrealistic expectations.

I am very pleased to know that, for every Mark Six ticket I buy, I am helping the poor and underprivileged. Essentially, it is no different from lotteries sold by schools and other worthy organisations - it is a means to raise funds for a good cause.

B. Lee, Happy Valley

Walkway lift sitting idle

As a regular user of the Connaught Road footbridge which links the IFC Mall and the Mid-Levels escalator, I have the following observation.

I notice that the steps to the south of the bridge cause a lot of inconvenience to elderly or incapacitated people and also make it very difficult for pedestrians with baggage.

There is a short wheelchair lift that has been inoperative for a considerable time and there appears to be no evidence that this situation will change.

Would the relevant government department care to comment as to whether it is planned to put in a short escalator or ramp in addition to these steps to alleviate this problem?

Chris Hirst, Mid-Levels

Noise driving families away

Recent surveys have suggested Hong Kong is experiencing a brain drain due to the high levels of pollution.

I suggest that noise pollution is one of the greatest causes of dissatisfaction with the Hong Kong lifestyle.

On a quiet day, our home in Tai Hang is idyllic.

We have sea views, lovely local restaurants, Victoria Park providing a large green area, the proximity to Causeway Bay's hustle and bustle in one direction and the eccentricities of Electric Road/North Point in the other.

However, quiet days are few and far between.

Over the past few months, our peace has been disturbed by drilling from apartment renovation, jackhammers from roadworks, piledriving in Victoria Park construction works and, most recently, loudspeakers and traffic disturbance caused by the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo.

Local police were as helpful as legislation allows but their hands are tied.

Hong Kong's noise laws give free rein, whatever decibel level or duration, between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.

Temporary permits allow events, such as the expo, to disturb locals into the late evening (sometimes after 10pm) for almost a month.

Exposure to this level of constant noise is not conducive to a restful home life, disturbs sleep, makes working at home difficult and ensures that it is nigh on impossible for our infant son to get the rest he needs.

Until all forms of pollution are reduced to a minimum, more families will take their children, their talent and their money to greener, quieter pastures.

Kate Clarke, Causeway Bay

Dog ban keeps beaches clean

I write in response to the letter by Yuki Nozaki Quilkey ('Ban on dogs makes no sense', December 14), who expressed her bewilderment over the dog ban imposed at gazetted beaches during the summer months.

It is in fact completely sensible.

Your correspondent talks of 'dog owners' responsibility'. During the 27 years I have lived on Cheung Chau, I and other residents have known full well that most dog owners are anything but responsible. They allow their pampered pooches to soil not only our beaches but also our pavements and parks.

It is rare to see an owner picking up after their dog. These people are so preoccupied with their beloved pets that any notions of consideration to their fellow human beings fly out the window.

I applaud the ban - long may it continue.

Brian Lard, Cheung Chau

Catch water leaks early

Officials should be willing to use more advanced technology to establish the cause of water leaks, given how much damage they do to buildings.

A serious leakage problem can also affect neighbouring buildings and this can disrupt the lives of residents and lead to the loss of their water supply.

I appreciate that purchasing more up-do-date equipment can prove costly, but it is worth the expense if it means finding the source of the leak early and causing minimum disruption to affected residents and their buildings.

Stopping a leak early also means wasting less water.

This is important in a city which does not have enough of its own water and has to bring it in from the mainland every year.

Also, when replacement pipes have to be laid, the best material should be used.

This may help to reduce the incidence of leaks in the affected building and in the nearby buildings.

Wong Po-huen, Tsuen Wan