Helpers turn Central into no-go area
Last Sunday I was trying to push a stroller through Central and I found it was harder than going through an obstacle course.
First, there were Filipino street peddlers surrounding the whole area outside exit J of the Central MTR station. Groups of them were dancing, creating noise with their amplifiers and drums. The whole of Chater Street was blocked off for their personal use.
Then as we hit Pedder Street, at the corner of Worldwide House, the street was filled with the sounds of masking tape securing goods and products for courier services back to the Philippines. There was no way I could get the stroller through the crowd. On Des Vouex Road, the helpers were blocking the road with signs selling such items as cell phone packages. My husband and myself had to shout and physically move the ladies out of the way so our stroller could pass through.
If these helpers want the same rights as Hong Kong citizens, shouldn't the government treat them equally when it comes to following the law? In Tin Shui Wai street peddlers are repeatedly caught and fined, yet these Filipinos are free to do their business on the streets of Central every Sunday.
Youngsters would be charged for loitering if they sat on the streets as a group, yet these helpers sit freely all over our footbridges, parks and roads.
Cultural groups are warned at parks if they use an amplifier for their music or dance, yet there were at least 10 Filipino groups making unbearable noise as we made our little tour down Central.
The government should really do something about these illegal congregations on Sundays so Hong Kong citizens can at least enjoy their only day of rest in peace. If the domestic helpers want equal rights, then they should start paying for their food, rent and insurance and rent places to congregate instead of loitering on our streets making areas look like refugee camps.
Bonnie Tam, Tai Po
Executions on mainland are wrong
I agree with those who argue that the death penalty should be abolished on the mainland.
Capital punishment cannot help reduce crimes. Some people convicted of a capital offence would prefer to be executed rather than spend their lives in prison. Some statistics show that the crime rate is higher in China than in European nations which do not have the death penalty.
The death penalty is inhumane. I believe everyone should have a chance to redress their wrongs and reform.
Even at school when pupils are suspended they are allowed to come back and have a chance to improve their behaviour.
Another concern is: what if it transpires that the person who was put to death was actually innocent?
Billy Tang Chi-yung, Lok Fu
Elderly have wonderful attitude
I am on a short visit to Hong Kong from India.
I have always found my morning walks most exhilarating. Hong Kong's promenades are beautiful, especially those with sea views and a variety of trees and plants.
It was during one of these walks near where I am staying that I came across quite a few elderly people. Some of them were walking or sitting around engaged in light conversation. They all looked very contented. Even those who appeared to be in their late seventies were doing tai chi or other exercises. It was a treat to see old couples helping each other. Those who could not walk by themselves used wheelchairs and there was a real festive atmosphere.
This was so different from India, where elderly people tend to stay at home. This is partly due to the lack of infrastructure in public places and due the mindset of society.
Grandparents in Hong Kong are happy because they are well looked after by their relatives and accompany them to restaurants for lunch or dinner. In my country, the elderly are also well cared for and looked after but they seldom go far from their homes. Some don't even leave home. I wish that the elderly could find fun in their lives in every part of the world.
D. K. Kaimal, Kollam, Kerala, India
Wrong choice for Olympics
In the report ('Wong expected to take HK spot in road race at London Olympics', November 2) you say that Wong Kam-po will get the Olympic place.
Wong is past his best and there are other cyclists who are faster riders now.
I hope the rumours are wrong, because it would be a slap in the face for every athlete here trying to represent Hong Kong. Other riders might be discouraged from continuing with the sport, which is what happened with women's wind surfing.
Most attention went to Lee Lai-shan, with little left for her peers. At least she was the best in Hong Kong every time she represented the city.
Ken Chan, Tai Po
Wine tax can help curb drink abuse
There is growing awareness about the problem of teenage drinking following the government's campaign to emphasis the fatal consequences of alcohol abuse.
This is a step forward, but I think even tougher measures are required, such as reintroducing the duty on wine.
Teenagers are always keen to try out new things but they often do not have a real understanding of the consequences of their actions and abuse alcohol.
I see convenience stores selling to people who are under age and I have even heard of parents sending their children out to buy alcohol for them. It is no wonder the children develop alcohol abuse problems when they become adults.
Some may argue the reinstatement of a wine duty will affect Hong Kong's reputation as a wine hub. But the loss will be astronomically greater if we allow the youth alcohol abuse problem to deteriorate.
James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok
Give students discounted bus fares
In his policy address the chief executive announced a HK$2 concessionary fare on public transport for senior citizens and the disabled.
I think this was good move. However, another group of citizens of this city are also in need of discounted transport - students.
The cost of living in Hong Kong is relatively high. Many students have to travel to a different district from where they live to attend school and they face high transport costs. Those living in the New Territories but going to school on Hong Kong Island, may have to pay up to HK$40 a day. This is beyond the means of low-income families.
There is already a transport subsidy scheme and a 50 per cent discount for students on the MTR, but these schemes are inadequate. And there are no discounted bus fares. The bus firms only offer a half fare to children under 12. There is no discount for secondary or university students.
It is true that needy families can apply for a subsidy scheme, but many find this undignified.
Some may argue that discounted bus fares will only encourage teenagers to hang out more and become less focused on their studies. In that case only apply the discount to weekdays.
The government could subsidise the bus firms if they claimed the reduced fare was eating into their profits.
Sunny Hor Tsz-ching, Tsuen Wan
HK needs more support groups
It is reassuring to read of improvements being made in the support of the mentally ill ('Patients get bigger say in mental health scheme', November 4). Often the changes needed are just in attitude.
A mood disorder patient is mentioned who has gained and given much from using her experiences to help others with the same problem.
This principle - using a person's experiences of trauma or illness in helping others - is a tried and tested method in many countries around the world.
In the US many thousands of self-help groups exist for problems ranging from anxiety disorders and drug addiction to suicide bereavement.
Given the evident success of self-help support groups in alleviating emotional distress more needs to be done to bring Hong Kong's provision up to the levels found in other cities.
Support groups bring information and resources to help those in distress, as well providing a sense of community and understanding. This is something Hong Kong needs more than ever.
Alastair Sharp, People Bereaved by Suicide support group, Hong Kong