Untouchable drivers need reining in
Some recent press reports on incidents involving Hong Kong motorists illustrate the utter disdain that many local drivers have for the rules of the road and their illusion that they are above the law.
It is a common sight to see police officers and traffic wardens being scolded by irate drivers while their instructions are being ignored.
This condition is the result of the verbal warning syndrome, a blanket approach to traffic and parking violations that has led drivers to believe they are invincible.
All manner of infringements are allowed. Stand on a busy corner for 10 minutes and tick the boxes - drivers on mobile phones; failure to indicate; drivers and passengers with no seat belts; babies and children riding unrestrained on their parents knees; more passengers than seats belts, the list is endless.
Then there are the parking restriction violations, such as drivers vacating vehicles while the ignition is on, stalling on zebra crossings and yellow boxes, the use of car horns in non-emergency situations and noisy intruder alarm signals that are prohibited under the Noise Control Ordinance.
Instead of supporting officers carrying out their duties, instructions from the top are invariably to issue verbal warnings. This policy has completely undermined respect for regular officers and made them a laughing stock in the eyes of drivers.
The community must now demand that this creeping infection be staunched and officers be allowed to exert their authority under the Road Traffic Ordinance Cap 374, Section 62, that 'any person who obstructs any police officer or traffic warden in the exercise of any power conferred under this Ordinance commits an offence and is liable to a fine of HK$2,000 and imprisonment for three months'.
The era of the inviolate driver must be brought to a close.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
Solidarity the answer to euro crisis
When you need money but you don't have any, you can borrow from friends and relatives. Countries in a similar position can issue bonds or seek help from other nations.
A number of European Union countries have sought help from the EU as they face mounting debt problems. Firm action is needed. The EU must implement constructive policies which will be effective in dealing with this debt crisis.
There must now be stricter monitoring of the financial behaviour of all member nations to ensure their economies are well managed.
Other countries outside the EU should also be willing to act and offer financial help to those EU members such as Greece, Italy and Ireland.
Yeung Cheuk-lai, Hung Hom
Italy is no Greek-style basket case
Every day we read worrying reports about the stability of the euro zone.
A great deal of the focus has been on Italy and its government bonds, BOT and CCT, issued to finance its huge debt, one of the largest in the world.
I am not worrying at all. A large part of my savings are in Italian government bonds, and not only that, I have instructed my bank to buy more of them, because the yield is extremely attractive and safe.
This belief is based on common sense. Italy is no Greece, because the combined gross domestic product of Greece can be compared to a single industrial province of northern Italy, like Milan or Turin.
Italian banks have no toxic assets, not even Greek treasury bonds that French and German banks have stacked up over the years.
Italian citizens have the means to pay for the debts, even if it will a painful process. The total amount of euros in the 35 million bank accounts in Italy, savings and current, is easily as large as the national debt.
If we add properties and fixed assets, then the estimate goes up to three to five times the national debt. This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, a chance for Italy to cut back on wastage and promote a more business-friendly environment.
Angelo Paratico, Sheung Wan
Are schools the priority for Lingnan?
I refer to the letter by David Chan ('Safety of pupils is top priority', November 12) on the relocation of Lingnan Nursery, Kindergarten and Primary schools.
The Education Bureau and the Buildings and Civil Engineering departments have declared that safety concerns should not be given as a reason to relocate.
Nevertheless, Mr Chan, as chairman of the Lingnan Education Organisation (LEO), the school's sponsoring body, maintains that the buildings could be unsafe even as children and teachers keep working there.
That is his prerogative. I am happy to trust in the governance of the school without argument and manage change without complaint.
I am a parent of three children at the kindergarten and primary schools and would simply like to hear Mr Chan state that:
He and the LEO are 100 per cent committed to the growth and prosperity of these schools;
He will neither downsize nor close any of them;
If the nursery and kindergarten are squeezed into the far smaller Siu Sai Wan premises, he pledges it will only be for a temporary period of weeks or months until remedial works are complete on the existing (much bigger and more suitable) premises; and
Since there are not, and have never been, structural issues of any kind at the primary school site, it will not be moved unless suitably located, bigger and better premises become available to accommodate the increase in demand for places.
Since the three schools are the raison d'?tre of the LEO, these must surely be Mr Chan's intentions.
Furthermore, a man of his stature, a builder, developer and leader, is undoubtedly capable of securing homes for all three schools that do not involve cross-district relocation and downsizing - if not elsewhere then certainly at the existing current site owned by the LEO.
O. Buist, Mid-Levels
Students are shaped by exam system
Public exam officials have been critical of Hong Kong secondary students, calling them 'narrow-minded', 'immature' and 'weak' (''Must do better' is message on exams', November 2).
As a Form Seven student I find this somewhat ironic.
How is it possible for the creators of a system to criticise it? Students in the local education system focus on one objective every day - the public examination.
How can they be expected to develop a 'global sense', 'social consciousness', or 'critical thinking skills' when they face such a rigid syllabus and mountains of past exam papers?
It is this exam system which shapes students and makes them 'immature', 'ignorant' and 'uncritical'. We simply have to adapt to the system and the way that it works.
I am not complaining, but it is not logical for the examiners to criticise the very qualities that they have instilled in us.
If anyone chooses to judge us it should not be the public examiners.
Esther Yu Mo-yan, Chai Wan
Seven-billion mark is a wake-up call
Those who celebrated the fact that the world's population had reached seven billion should bear in mind the shocking truth that we are running out of natural resources.
Competition in some regions for clean water has caused conflict, with fears that it might one day lead to a third world war.
We also face a future with shortages of coal, oil and natural gas. The seven billion landmark should highlight the importance of birth control.
At school, children are taught the importance of cherishing the earth's resources, but do not turn these ideas into action.
Children are told how water must be saved, but many people still waste it.
They keep lights on when they are not needed. People continue to waste our natural resources, expecting environmental conservation to be someone else's responsibility.
We are all to blame for the deteriorating state of our planet.
The statistics are there for all to read about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. But, for most of us, it seems that the data goes in one ear and out the other while the rate of exhaustion of the world's resources gathers pace.
We all need to be more environmentally aware and stop wasting precious resources such as water and electricity. We can still prevent a major disaster but time is running out.
Shirley Tsang Lok-yi, Hung Hom