PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 January, 2011, 12:00am

Public phones have vital role in emergencies

Lee Dai ('Phone booths going to waste', January 8) is obviously not aware that the reason people are not using the PCCW phone booths on the streets is that these public telephones rarely take coins but few of us remember to purchase a telephone card, and why should we when a HK$1 coin should do the trick?

Only last week I found this problem with the public phone outside the Central Government Offices and two out of the three booths further along Queen's Road. I had to queue to use the only functioning phone. It is best to use the public phones within MTR stations as they usually accept coins.

The very convenient public phone service once available at convenience stores and supermarkets was terminated some years ago.

PCCW is getting very visible promotion on our busiest streets via its kiosks.

Every government department which oversees this service should demand that these public phones accept coins of the realm.

It is important that a public telephone service is in place not only in view of the high number of visitors to our city, some of whom may experience connectivity problems with their mobile phones, but also because fixed lines have an important function during emergency situations, such as typhoons, when mobile lines are overwhelmed and can crash. They are also necessary in case of a malicious attack that could overload and disable cellphone traffic.

While providing additional services in the kiosks is an option, we should not lose sight of the fact that public phones, like fire extinguishers, are a very necessary component of emergency services and, as such, should always be maintained in good working order.

Could PCCW advise if there is any valid reason so many of its public phones no longer offer a coin service?

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui

Cost of Games will be high

The success of Hong Kong's athletes in the Asian Games in Guangzhou led to some people calling for us to host the event in 2023.

I think there are some advantages to hosting it. For example, it could raise the international status of Hong Kong and create a better sports culture in the city.

Hong Kong athletes are likely to perform well and get better results as they will be on their home turf. We will have a lot of foreign visitors for the duration of the Games who will spend money in the city.

But the cost of hosting the Games will be very high.

This money could be used instead to build more training facilities for athletes and promote the sports industry in Hong Kong.

I think we should never let short-term considerations blind our final goal.

The government must choose policies that improve our city's sports development and help the economy.

Simon Ko Chin-hung, Tsuen Wan

Wrong time to make bid

There are several convincing arguments in favour of bidding to host the Asian Games in 2023.

But a point that has to be considered is that the government has not shown any commitment to the development of sport. There have never been enough public sport facilities. For example, there are not enough soccer pitches and swimming pools. The government would rather sell its land to property developers to generate revenue.

Moreover, many people remain unconvinced by the reduced budget for the Games. Because of inflation and other unforeseen situations, original budgets will often be enlarged.

It is unlikely that the venues built for the 2023 Games will be made available for use by ordinary citizens. It would be better to invest in facilities that help our athletes improve their skills. If they become more competitive, then a few years from now the government can think about bidding for the Asian Games, but now is not the time to do this.

W. H. Chan, Kwun Tong

Instant noodles not healthy diet

Your article about the new eateries providing a variety of ramen meals to hungry clients is interesting because it seems Hongkongers are unaware of the dangers of some Japanese noodles ('Bowled over', January 6).

The advent of instant noodles came about when a Japanese scientist found a way to coat noodles with some synthetic stuff to make them quick to cook.

Hence, the first cup noodles that made their inventor a millionaire.

So those who regularly ingest this type of food are heedlessly putting chemicals into their bodies.

Not only that, all the salt from soy sauce and miso promotes hypertension. But perhaps we haven't much choice in today's world where wholesome natural food is hard to find and expensive when available.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau

Extend book drop-off points

Sometimes if the local library is far from someone's home, it may be difficult for them to return a book they have borrowed by the due date.

However, last year I noticed a facility that I would like to see extended - it was a library book- drop scheme in a market.

I think that this facility should be expanded so that there are book-drop points near schools.

It would be so much easier for students who found that they were too busy to make the trip to the library.

Some libraries do not have long hours and close early and it can be difficult to get there in time. Therefore I would also like to see book-drop areas at MTR stations. People could drop off the book they had borrowed on their way to work. This would be very convenient for commuters.

Kiki So, Lok Fu

Not all schools act unethically

I was interested to read the article describing the present rage for unethical tutor-written essays for university students ('Alarm over writer-for-hire firms', January 8).

Sadly, the problem of corruption in academic life also extends to secondary students or rather to their parents.

Just a few days ago, I was approached by a Hong Kong academic who wanted a tutor for his son with regard to two specific questions in assessed A-level coursework. Apparently good grades are still needed for Oxford entry for such a degraded subject as law.

I was shocked to receive such a request and naturally declined it. How can a tutor draw a line between helping a student generally and almost writing his assessed essays for him?

Tutors should not be placed in such a position.

I can assure Hong Kong parents and the authorities that not all tutorial schools are willing to act unethically and that our first thought is not always personal gain.

The regulation of tutorial schools in Hong Kong makes almost no provision at all for standards, staff qualifications or ethics.

It is primarily concerned with school size and safety issues. This is shaming for Hong Kong and naturally leads to corruption and shoddy practice.

George Adams, principal, Oxford Tutors Hong Kong

Responsible dog ownership

I am writing to express my rage about the fatal dog poisonings with tainted meat laid by the roadside.

Presumably, the poison was put down by some cold-blooded people who are annoyed, perhaps because the dog was barking.

Statistics show that these dog poisonings are not isolated incidents.

Dogs have often been called man's best friend. When it comes to the poisoning, they are innocent victims and people should not take their anger out on them.

We do have problems with some stray animals in Hong Kong. Sometimes populations of, for example, dogs and monkeys can have an adverse impact on communities. People may even be attacked in some instances.

Clearly in these cases, the government has to undertake a neutering campaign so the numbers drop to sustainable levels.

It is also important for owners to act in a responsible manner and not create problems.

They must clean up after their pets and they should be on the lookout for any raw meat at the roadside that may be poisoned.

Those people with aggressive dogs must ensure they wear a muzzle when out in public places so they do not bite pedestrians.

If the government and dog owners do their bit, then hopefully fewer animals will become victims of the poisoners.

Dennis Ho, Tsuen Wan

More public housing needed

Over the past few years many people have struggled to save enough money to buy a flat.

Even a small apartment in Hong Kong will set you back at least HK$2 million.

For many citizens that is just too much money, given the cost of living.

They find it hard enough just to pay rent and even rents are rising.

The government must do more to help these people. Further inaction is inexcusable.

More public rental housing units must be made available for people from lower-income groups.

The administration also has to take more effective action to cool the property market so that more residents can have realistic expectations of owning their own homes.

Katrina Lee, Hung Hom