PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am


Encourage the use of bicycles

I refer to your excellent editorial, 'Anti-cycling trend makes no sense (November 8).

The government has made an effort to promote cycling safety with publicity and education and the improved design of cycling tracks. But there is room for improvement, and well-developed cycling networks are needed.

Several bike-friendly Asian cities have smooth roads and good views and services, for example Kaohsiung in Taiwan. It has 150 kilometres of bike lanes and is continuing to expand the network. It is the first city in Taiwan to offer self-service bike rental kiosks to the public. C-bike is available at 50 rental stations around Kaohsiung. Cyclists pay NT$30 (HK$7.70) for the first half hour and NT$15 for subsequent half-hours.

Apart from cycling networks and services, developing a complete policy on bicycles is crucial. In the long term, the use of bicycles as a transport mode in both urban and rural areas must be encouraged.

Stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations, schools and families have their share of responsibility. Cycling groups could deliver more talks or workshops in schools and in local communities. NGOs could hold song-writing competitions as an interesting way to promote a safe cycling culture.

Hong Kong has the potential to become a bicycle-friendly city. As well as NGOs, schools and individuals should get involved. The benefit, a better environment for the Hong Kong public, will be enormous.

Charlie Chan, Sha Tin

Safety of pupils is top priority

I refer to the letter by K. S. K. Yee, the parent of a pupil of Lingnan Kindergarten and Day Nursery ('Lingnan Education Organisation must reconsider planned relocation of schools', November 2).

As the sponsoring body of Lingnan Kindergarten and Day Nursery and Lingnan Primary School, Lingnan Education Organisation Ltd (LEO) always regards the well-being of our students as the top priority. Their personal safety is not only our primary concern but also our liability.

The decision on relocation of the schools, and the timetable for it, were finalised at a meeting between LEO and the school management committee representatives in the presence of Education Bureau officials on July 8. The Siu Sai Wan premises subsequently identified by the committee are purpose-built for a kindergarten and nursery and can accommodate all the pupils, subject to some class rescheduling. The committee has proceeded with renovation works in preparation for the relocation before the next school term.

Because of the scale of unauthorised building works found on the school's premises, the Buildings Department wrote to LEO raising the issue of enforcement action and demanding a comprehensive investigation of the structural safety of the buildings.

As instructed by the department, LEO is appointing a project manager to oversee a team comprising an authorised person/registered structural engineer for the removal of these works.

Initial assessment indicates that interruption of normal school operations is inevitable. Once the works programme is finalised, the committee will communicate with parents.

We appreciate parents' reluctance to compromise over changes as a result of relocation of the schools. However, as the owner of the school buildings we undoubtedly assume the ultimate responsibility for our pupils' personal safety on the school premises.

I must clarify again that there is no application to change the lease or rezone the site concerned.

David Chan, chairman, Lingnan Education Organisation Ltd

Pilot no hero - he was just doing his job

A Polish airliner with 231 people on board was forced to land on its belly in Warsaw on November 1 after its landing gear failed to open, triggering small fires.

The captain of the Boeing 767 was hailed as a hero. Private and airline pilots are trained to handle such a situation.

The captain received a bravery award, but I do not feel there was any bravery involved. He was simply doing his job, landing the aircraft in this way.

Although it is the first incident involved a Boeing 767, I feel the Polish airline LOT should upgrade the safety of its aircraft.

Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay

Victims of bias turn perpetrators

I find that many Hong Kong Chinese do not know the meaning of shame.

They have forgotten that for centuries the Chinese have left their ancestral homes for foreign shores in Asia and elsewhere in search of a better living and to be able to send money back to their families.

They built North America's railways but were treated as indentured labourers who were not allowed to bring their families with them. America and Australia had discriminatory anti-Chinese immigration policies, and generations of Chinese suffered indignity.

Does anyone still remember the signs put up at the parks in Shanghai's foreign concessions that forbade entry to 'Chinese and dogs'?

Doesn't anyone perceive the irony, now that we have achieved a modicum of prosperity and can hire domestic helpers, that we have become the discriminators instead of the discriminated against?

In Hong Kong, we pride ourselves on the rule of law, yet when this goes against our vested interests and benefits, we quickly abandon its principles.

So, we don't want the domestic helpers and their families competing for our 'entitlements'. Well, neither do the Heung Yee Kuk and its so-called indigenous villagers, who may no longer even live here, want to lose their 'traditional' right to become instant multimillionaires by building a house when most of us can't afford to own a small flat.

I have to declare that I am not religious, but find the dictum of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' a moral guiding principle.

William Chao, Tuen Mun

Speak up for defenceless animals

There were 52 recorded animal abuse cases in the first nine months of 2011, two more than in the same period last year.

It is not easy to stop this trend, as stray animals are defenceless and cannot speak up.

I don't think people care enough about animal rights.

Cruelty is not confined to the land, as fishermen cut off the fins of sharks to sell to restaurants and then throw the sharks back into the sea, where they die.

If species become extinct, such as some species of whale, through overfishing, this could affect the marine food chain.

We need to regard our planet and its occupants as precious and see animals as resources to be treasured.

Stephanie Wong Ho-ka, Tuen Mun

Single people need help with housing

It is unrealistic to expect single people on low incomes to manage the cost of a mortgage and home ownership alone.

Not all of Hong Kong 's citizens live in perfect family situations, so the government and the Housing Authority must step in to assist single people who need accommodation.

There is abundant media coverage of the existence in Hong Kong of illegal, unhygienic fire traps - subdivided flats that less fortunate people have to call home.

While the authorities have done little with effect to tackle the problem so far, I hope it won't take some kind of serious disaster at the cost of lives before they wake up to their responsibility in this regard.

Nigel Pearson, Tsuen Wan

'Occupiers' missed an opportunity

The 'Occupy' demonstrations around the globe should have disbanded after exactly a month.

The protesters could then have earmarked that month for an annual protest. Each year, they could have focused on a different theme and posed questions that would be taken up by the media.

For example, next year they could have focused on the question of how one individual, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates, can accumulate, say, US$100 billion.

I appreciate that he is now giving back to society much of his fortune, but it still begs the question how one person can make so much.

Frank G. Sterle, Jr., White Rock, British Columbia, Canada