Safeguards for leisure centre cancellations
I refer to the letter by Oliver Au ('Well-run sports facilities for everyone should be priority', January 21) with regard to the cancellation policy and management of sports facilities under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
At present, a hirer or their representative who wants to cancel a booking at a leisure facility must come to the counter with documentary proof of identity and a completed cancellation form (which can be downloaded from the department's website or obtained at the counter).
Without the necessary infrastructure in place for verifying the identity of the hirer/caller, allowing cancellation of bookings via other booking channels (such as the internet and by phone) may result in a misunderstanding during verbal communication or cancellation of the booked sessions by unauthorised persons.
However, we will review the current cancellation procedures to see if they can be further simplified without causing undue risk of cancellation by unauthorised persons.
There are safeguards in the online booking system to reduce wrong data entry.
Hirers are required to confirm their data input twice before making payment.
During the second confirmation, a message will tell them that no refund can be made for a cancellation after they confirm the booking.
To maintain fair and equal opportunities for all users, refunds will only be considered under special circumstances with full justification and a supporting document.
Applications for a refund can be lodged at the same time when cancelling a booking.
Regarding the provision of lockers at the Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, there are currently 50 lockers in each of the male and female changing rooms.
In the event that all lockers have been taken up, users may have to wait for a while until other users return the locker keys.
While we will continue to appeal to users for their co-operation in promptly returning the keys, we are also planning to double the number of lockers to 100 in each of the male and female changing rooms this summer to meet the demand from an increasing number of users, including joggers.
As regards the drinking fountains at this venue, a fountain outside the male changing room was found defective on January 5 and the maintenance agent was immediately called to make urgent repairs.
The fountain was subsequently reopened for use on January 24.
In the interim, users were advised to use the drinking fountains outside the female changing rooms, which are within a short walking distance.
We are grateful to your correspondent for bringing these matters to our attention. We will continue to try to improve our services.
Brenda Ng, acting chief leisure manager, land-based venues, Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Film warning over the top
I accept that different people have different cultural norms. Living in the same satellite TV region as Singapore and several more conservative (and easily offended) countries, I am used to being forced to pay for very heavily censored English-language TV programming.
Certainly, watching Nigella Lawson's cooking show with her costume pixelated adds somewhat to the entertainment value.
But, could someone from Star Movies or Now TV please explain why Disney's The Princess and the Frog (screened on Sunday night at 9pm) came with the warning that is was only suitable for those over 15? My children aged two, five and seven, loved it, albeit recorded and rescreened at a more rational hour.
I would like to know what part of this film is inappropriate for a younger audience, or, indeed, how it is suitable for anyone over the age of 15.
Michael Small, Mid-Levels
Singapore has right approach
As a Hong Kong citizen, I appreciate the initiatives taken by the government to try to rein in runaway property prices even though I do occasionally invest in property in the city.
In Singapore, you cannot live in government-owned or subsidised flats and also own a private flat.
The reason for this is that government resources have to be prioritised to help those in need. Also, Singapore recently introduced another rule that you cannot buy any residential property if you are not a Singapore resident.
Land resources are extremely limited in cities like Singapore and Hong Kong.
For that reason, we cannot allow a situation where money floods in from the mainland for the purpose of buying up property in Hong Kong.
We may have needed that investment in 2003, but circumstances can change rapidly and policies must also change.
Simon Yam, Hung Hom
Smaller classes are better
I agree with those correspondents who have argued that small class sizes are better than large ones.
Teachers are well aware of the advantages of teaching a class of 10 pupils compared to, say, 30.
In the latter case they cannot allow too many questions from pupils because the situation could become quite chaotic. Therefore, they tend to rely more on knowledge-based teaching.
The Education Bureau wants to see a more creative and inquiry-based approach to learning in our schools.
This can be accomplished with smaller classes.
Pupils will absorb more knowledge. They will also find it easier to develop their critical faculties and to be more creative.
Hong Kong is increasingly taking a more international approach.
Pupils should not just be depending on the knowledge they are able to acquire from textbooks.
We should not just be looking at how pupils are ranked in classes, but focusing more on the development of thinking skills.
Cynthia Wong Jing-may, Ho Man Tin
Educate drivers about cyclists
I refer to your editorial ('Accidents highlight need to create cycling culture', February 7).
Given Hong Kong's topography, developing such a culture will literally be an uphill struggle. But the experience of the outlying islands and some parts of Kowloon shows that cycling can blossom where conditions support it.
An important step in that direction is to further legitimise cyclists' rights in regulations and driver education. The Road Users' Code tells drivers of their legal responsibility to avoid accidents with pedestrians even if these individuals are illegally jaywalking.
Perhaps because bicycles are classified as other vehicles, no such guidance is given regarding cyclists in spite of the equivalent physical dangers from motorised vehicles that cyclists share with pedestrians.
The code should be changed to reflect this. Student drivers should have points deducted for a failure to look explicitly for cyclists, as practised in other jurisdictions.
Rob Gvozden, Mid-Levels
Get serious over air pollution
I note that some lawmakers are supporting plans to fit platform doors on the MTR Corporation's East Rail Line, citing passenger safety as the reason.
I also note that some 1,200 people annually face premature death as a direct consequence of Hong Kong's appalling air pollution ('Revealed: the deadly threat from our bad air', January 20). That is around three people every day. To my knowledge the MTR hasn't killed anyone over the last 12 months.
Our lawmakers and government seem to be fiddling while Rome burns. When will they pick up this issue and introduce the changes necessary, including meaningful engagement with the relevant mainland authorities?
All of us who live and work here should demand that our district council and Legislative Council representatives raise this issue and keep raising it until we see real and achievable plans for sustained and continuing improvements.
For our lawmakers to concentrate on the tiny and often irrelevant issues while ignoring the spectre of air pollution is irresponsible and must change.
Claire Yeoman, Sai Kung
Wind power so important
In terms of power sources we need to find alternatives to fossil fuels.
These greener power sources are less polluting.
In fact scientists have shown that renewable energy does not cause any pollution.
If we use more of this kind of energy then I believe we can slow down global warming.
Some nearby residents might complain about the noise from wind turbines, but use of wind power is essential.
The earth is our home and we must do all that we can to protect it.
Rikin Lau, The Peak
Privacy issue a major concern
As more people join Facebook, concerns have been raised about privacy violations.
As a Facebook user I share those concerns. Whenever I upload my photos and videos, almost everyone can see them if I do not use the privacy settings.
It is a good platform enabling you to keep in touch with people living far from Hong Kong, but the privacy issue cannot be ignored.
It is a useful tool, but I do hope that more can be done to protect the privacy of all those using this social network.
Leung Ting-kwan, Sham Shui Po