PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 March, 2011, 12:00am

Present policies will not deter mountain bikes from using paths

Your well-researched story about mountain biking ('Olympic Trail ban puts bike riders in a spin', March 6), suggests that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department prioritises conservation.

That is not the case. Walk the MacLehose Trail and what was once a picturesque nature path is now mostly a concrete staircase.

A recent hike down Kap Lung Forest Trail revealed department workers inserting giant steel poles into this ancient footpath in order to stop mountain bikers. Only a halfwit would think this will stop a mountain biker.

By the very nature of the sport these are adrenaline addicts who relish risk taking. They will stop and lift the bike through the maze of poles and then resume the ride, undeterred by the chance of running into a few hapless department wardens.

The department acts as if it owns the land.

It doesn't. It is owned by the people of Hong Kong, whose taxes pay agriculture and fisheries' officials' salaries. These officials will only conserve hiking paths when they provide purpose-built, biking-only paths for the growing number of bikers; we've seen how governments fare that arrogantly ignore the wishes of the people. A more accurate description of the priority of department staff is to have an easy life, do the minimum and cause nothing to move forward.

Mark Keith, Sai Kung

Banned from using pleasant route to work

I find it sad that the government has to try to stop the joy of riding one's bike on the Olympic Trail from Mui Wo to Tung Chung.

I ride my bike three to four times a week to work and back with great pleasure with no cars or buses.

My other option is to go by road, but that really is not such a nice ride due to all the traffic. Hong Kong may be a world city but not for bike riders.

Tom Bennell, Tung Chung

Promotion system offers no solutions

There have been news reports about a brain drain at public hospitals.

It is not difficult to understand why this is happening. Some people have argued that those medics who have acquired specialist qualifications should be promoted to senior posts in order to avoid losing them.

This can ease disquiet over the salaries being paid, but it does not get to the root of the problem and I do not think it will stop the loss of talent from the public sector.

I think we are losing a lot of these medics because they are faced with an intense workload. This puts them under a great deal of pressure. Also they must keep studying to familiarise themselves with innovations in medicine and this has to be done in conjunction with their heavy workload. They have to deal with so many patients and this will not change even if they are promoted. It is natural that many of these professionals will move to the private sector. They work hard at university to get their degrees and postgraduate qualifications. For many the thought of eventually working in the private sector is a lot more attractive than a public hospital. Offering promotion is only a short-term measure. It is similar to the sweeteners that were offered by the financial secretary in last month's budget.

The Hospital Authority must not just look at short-term measures. It needs to examine the problems in-depth within public hospitals and come up with feasible and realistic measures.

Kathy Lam Wai-ying, Ho Man Tin

Government faces very difficult task

There has been public indignation over last month's stingy budget. The government has been blamed for neglecting the needs of those members of society who are impoverished, and it is this criticism that led to last Sunday's protest in Central.

Hong Kong has long been hailed as a city where freedom is respected. We are free to complain, to speak up on behalf of others and to march in the streets. As a Hongkonger I am proud that we have these rights. There are many people in other parts of the world who do not enjoy this freedom. But the protesters abused these rights.

Of course, there has been considerable public discontent over the budget. But does this justify going on a march which affects traffic and pedestrians going about their business?

People ask the government to curb rising inflation, but it is not that easy.

Officials are aware that long-term unrest can damage the social fabric of Hong Kong. But they need time to tackle the problems that we face.

Vanessa Au Hing-lin, Wong Tai Sin

Strong opposition to nuclear ambitions

I disagree on so many levels with Kristiaan Helsen's assertion that Israel's 'apartheid' regime poses a greater 'threat' than Iran is that it is difficult to know where to begin ('Tremendous market opportunities in Iran', March 6).

If a nuclear Iran would somehow counterbalance Israel and serve as a source of stability in the region, why does every other Arab country vehemently oppose such a development? The current and unpleasant territorial status quo Israel and the Palestinian territories find themselves in is the result of four wars waged against Israel over 25 years.

Iran's nuclear ambitions, meanwhile, are based on theocratic ideology and a hatred for many of the things your correspondent presumably takes for granted living in Hong Kong.

As far as Israel being an apartheid state, the laws governing Israel's military occupation of the West Bank, such as marriage and travel rights, are debated annually and openly in the Israeli parliament and these debates are lively to say the least.

At the same time the political rights enjoyed by Israel's own 1.2 million Arabs are substantially greater than those enjoyed by Arabs living in Arab lands.

Only those with no understanding of the concept of free speech and right to assembly would wish sanctions to be lifted against Iran.

David Konn, Kwai Chung

Think twice before buying a pet

Given that this is the Year of the Rabbit I am sure there are many people who were tempted to buy a rabbit or a puppy.

They are very cute, but they stop being cute when they fall ill or get injured. That is when some people simply abandon their pets.

I find it very disheartening to read about these abandoned animals that have become strays on our streets. I just wish that people would give careful thought before making the decision to purchase a pet.

They need to recognise that pet ownership carries responsibilities.

Kellie Yip Ting-kwan, Lok Fu

Sensible checks

I refer to the letter by David Peatfield ('Concerns over police ID card checks', February 13).

Police identity card checks are a crime-prevention measure. They can act as a deterrent to would-be thieves and burglars who risk detection. Officers are also on the lookout for people with fake ID cards and people who do not have legal residency status. These checks can help to lower the crime rate.

Regarding what criteria they use for their checks, I am sure they cannot be made public.

If we want a safe city, we should support the methods employed by our police force.

Wilson Hon, Choi Wan