Restrictions on play period unfair
I am compelled to write following last Monday's ruling in which a High Court judge did not overturn a Noise Control Appeal Board ruling that noise levels at Lantau International School should not exceed 60 decibels ('New blow for Lantau school in noise row', November 1).
To put this in context, 60 decibels is the equivalent of the noise made by a dishwasher, an air-conditioning unit at 30 metres, or a conversation in a restaurant.
It is ludicrous to think that children can play normally under such constraints. What is the world coming to if our children cannot run around the playground at break time and let off steam? A direct result of this ruling is that the children's time in the playground has been reduced by 15 minutes each day.
I am a parent of one of the students affected by this ruling but regardless of whether or not my child was affected I would be saddened to think that any child would have their playtime curtailed in such a manner.
At a time when childhood obesity is becoming an increasing issue, we should encourage our children to go out and run around, not the opposite. It is beyond belief that permission can be granted for a school and then a cap is put on the level of playground noise. Has anyone heard of this happening elsewhere?
It is a credit to the school that, despite this ongoing saga, Lantau International School students continue to be among the happiest that I have ever seen.
Josephine Long, Discovery Bay
Target the real noise polluters
We live in strange times. A complaint about noise results in the curtailing of children's playtime. Thus our children cannot express their happiness, joy, excitement, well-being, energy and zest for life.
Yet every day and night our ears are assailed by the noise of drivers pressing the horns of their vehicles, disturbing the peace of those of us living in our little boxes well away from roads. This noise expresses anger, impatience, greed, intolerance and selfishness.
Can anyone explain why we passively accept the unnecessary noise caused by drivers, but use the might of officials and the law to prevent the sound of laughter?
For reference as I typed this letter at about 3pm my peace was disturbed twice not by children but by drivers.
Patrick Wood, Quarry Bay
Airlines must not violate human rights
I refer to the report ('Airlines can ban disabled from flights', November 3).
Human rights have been problems in particular countries but who would have thought it would come to a stage where the disabled would have to take the risk of going to an airport and being stopped by staff because they might make people on the flight uncomfortable?
It is disturbing to know that airline staff are able to determine whether a disabled person is fit to fly. Is it not hard enough to be disabled, let alone to be told you cannot get on by airline staff at the boarding gate?
How would it feel travelling with your other family members and paying the full fare, to then realise you are not allowed on the flight because you may offend other passengers, because of the way you look? Something must be done about this. The lack of respect for human rights on the mainland needs to be addressed.
Catherine Ding, North Point
Beijing must sort out this problem
I was astonished to read the report ('Airline can ban disabled from flights', November 3).
This is a human rights problem. Disabled people have the right to board a plane, and get to their destination just like any other person.
They should be treated as equals. They pay the same fare and it is unfair that airline staff have the power to decide whether a disabled passenger is fit to fly or not. To be declined, after checking in, going through security, and arriving at the boarding gate, is unfair and a waste of time and money. Disabled people commonly are not wealthy and cannot afford to spend unwisely.
The central government must address this problem.
Jamie King, Mid-Levels
Revived wine levy is not the answer
I refer to Kristiaan Helsen's letter ('We should bring back wine tax', November 3).
I do not think that bringing back a tax on wine will lead to fewer innocent parties being killed by drink-driving teenagers.
I do not accept that drinking is encouraged by cheap access. I believe it has more to do with one's culture and upbringing and how alcohol is regarded in your household. In those countries that produce wine and where it is cheap, I don't think there is a link between the alcohol and criminal acts. Setting a legal age to consume alcohol is sufficient to curb teenagers from underage drinking.
You do read news reports about drinking and driving and it can have tragic consequences. But again I do not think the zero tax on wine is linked with this. Most Hongkongers use public transport. According to statistics issued by the Transport Department in 2008 we have the highest usage rate of anywhere in the world and so very few of us actually have cars.
A higher rate of smoking tax might encourage some people to smoke less but it is certainly not going to play a magical role in turning Hong Kong into a smoke-free environment.
Statistics show that many of Hong Kong's smokers are influenced by friends and the main reason they have for quitting is because of the health issues.
Your correspondent talked of smoking as being a vice of poor people, but you see a lot of executives lighting up in Central. Smoking is a habit that affects people from all walks of life. It depends a lot on your personal choices. The best way to reduce abuse of drinking or smoking is through teaching people to act responsibly.
Levenza Toh, Mid-Levels
Stricter regulations needed
I refer to the report ('Hunt for funds at MF Global', November 5) where MF Global Holdings' bankruptcy, the eighth-largest in US history, is once again exposing the lack of internal controls and regulatory oversight in the financial industry.
Regulators (belatedly) are now investigating whether millions of dollars are missing from client accounts.
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis it was obvious that more assertive action was needed to stop brokerages (and banks) using clients' money for their own proprietary trading.
I am drawn to the irony of MF Global's final advertisement printed in Barron's, the American business and financial weekly newspaper (October 31) which is headed 'Everyone has opinions. We have convictions'.
I wonder what kind of convictions they are talking about?
It must be hoped that Hong Kong's financial industry regulators at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have been more vigilant than Wall Street in guarding against such brokerage abuses.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Conservation issues are important
Skyscrapers have been constructed all over our city.
Whether they go up in Tsuen Wan or Central, and are for residential or commercial use, they have been constructed at a rapid rate in recent years.
Their construction is designed to meeting increasing demands.
These urban developments are generally good for Hong Kong's economy. However, the government and developers must give careful consideration when a planned development is seen to clash with the conservation of a part of the city's historical heritage.
CLP Power's proposal to knock down part of the heritage building that makes up its headquarters in Argyle Street to build three residential blocks, has aroused discontent among residents in Mong Kok.
These buildings could generate environmental problems, but they will also be a setback in efforts at conserving our past. Citizens will lose a piece of history. Such a loss affects all Hongkongers, not just residents in Mong Kok.
The government should take an active role in protecting heritage sites.
Sometimes with issues such as historic buildings we have to look beyond the economic aspect and see things from another perspective.
Kadie Yan, Tsuen Wan