Chungking 'facelift' fails to impress
I refer to the report about the so-called facelift of Chungking Mansions ('Back into the light', November 12).
Those who are impressed by what has been done have neglected to look behind the gaudy LED display.
If they had ventured up the side alley during the ceremony that marked the building's 'official 50th anniversary', they would have seen mounds of refuse and broken glass and could have followed the unpleasant-smelling trail through to the rear of the building and out to Minden Row. Inside the building, hygiene is only marginally better.
During the district council elections, we heard about councillors who had supposedly dedicated themselves to local affairs. This was certainly not the case in this ward. General conditions have deteriorated in recent years, particularly in Tsim Sha Tsui East. The more pleasant panorama on the streets in the western section is all the work of the Canton Road Business Association.
Meanwhile, on the eastern side, once vibrant streets like Mody Road are devoid of life. No action is being taken to tackle illegal parking, drivers using their horns, the foul air quality, obstruction of pavements during renovations, construction noise outside the stipulated hours, and dumping of waste on pavements. Our district councillors are supposed to tackle these problems.
As for Chungking and its 600 LED lights, the garish glare further accentuates the sleaze factor. Residents and visitors staying at the guest houses are bathed in flashing neon, another example of invasive and wasteful illumination. At a fraction of the cost of installing the light display, the management could have employed some extra security personnel and cleaners to tackle the hygiene problems.
If the alleyway is a public thoroughfare, then the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department should be brought to task. In a building housing a number of restaurant and food outlets, this department should certainly be making its presence felt.
Paul Kumar, member, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group
Desperate call to boost road safety
The minibus which crashed in Gansu province on November 16, killing 19 kindergarten children was supposed to carry a maximum of nine passengers. However, 62 pupils were on board.
There are strict regulations governing these buses, but the overloading problem persists.
There is no tight supervision of officials and school staff, especially in rural areas, and it is difficult for the central government to monitor the situation.
Also, school staff including principals have limited resources and so do not have large sums available to get suitable buses and to hire responsible drivers.
As a result, in many cases, most of the seats of these buses are removed to get as many children as possible on board and this leads to serious overloading.
The people in charge are being irresponsible and inconsiderate. They are compromising children's safety.
Strict laws are one thing, but they must be enforced. It is also important to raise public awareness on the importance of road safety and the protection of children. The mainland authorities can learn from other countries which have implemented the necessary safety measures.
Drivers in other countries are advised to take care when they see a school bus and there are appropriate signs near schools. Children are also taught about road safety. Vehicles which do not meet the stringent standards are banned.
On the mainland, co-operation between the different parties is needed to make these vehicles safer for children going to school.
Raymond Tse Ka-wai, Sham Shui Po
Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies
I refer to the letter by Robert L. Meyer ('Allegations about Israel incorrect', November 16) in reply to my letter ('In backing Israel, US is out of step', November 4).
Your correspondent makes the premise that a connection to antiquity lends legitimacy to land rights. The analogy of the English connection to Stonehenge is untenable as this ancient monument pre-dates the establishment of England by more than 3,000 years.
I doubt that Mr Meyer is suggesting that all the Norsemen, Danes, and Germanic tribesman who invaded and stayed on be disenfranchised and sent back across the North Sea?
However, such a proposition was enacted in Israel in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their traditional homes, most fleeing across the Jordan River.
Mr Meyer is correct that Israel is not now an apartheid state. However, it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that Israel's settlement and control regimes in the occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza are apartheid policies, as their intention is to segregate by race and religion.
The hackneyed US statement of a 'shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East' in the context of Israel's actions in the occupied lands is most surely a mirage.
I. M. Wright, Happy Valley
Comparing apples with oranges
I refer to the letter by Brian Littlewood ('Different take on landing of aircraft', November 16) in reply to my letter ('Pilot no hero - he was just doing his job', November 12).
The Polish aircraft which made an emergency landing in Warsaw was not burning. The aircraft dumped fuel in the air and made a soft landing without causing a fire.
In January 2009, an airbus A320 ditched in the Hudson River, New York, and all passengers were safe. The captain said he was just doing his job and was no hero. Referring to servicemen who defended Hong Kong during the last war, and asking if they were just doing their jobs, Mr Littlewood was comparing apples and oranges.
I am a private pilot authorised by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate multi-engine aircraft.
Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay
Signs tide is turning on shark fin
Our oceans need healthy shark populations and yet Hong Kong is leading the pack when it comes to hunting them to extinction. Every year brings us closer to the loss of these crucial animals, and this is a cause for alarm.
However, we have seen some progress. People around the world and in Hong Kong are increasingly doing the right thing by rejecting shark dishes from the dinner table.
Palau, Hawaii and California have banned the shark trade. These communities have large Chinese populations and people are coming to realise that there is nothing in Chinese culture that says it is OK to permanently ruin the environment.
The tide is turning. Recent studies have shown that the majority of Hongkongers would prefer if shark fin was not served at banquets. The evidence is clear that we don't want threatened animals as food at our special occasions.
Just this week, inspiring businesses like the Peninsula Hotel, Repulse Bay complex and The Peak Tower decided to end the sale of shark fin. This is a ray of hope, and we should proudly support these business leaders in our community.
If Palau, Hawaii and California could do it, we should also show the world that we will do what it takes to save our seas.
Ran Elfassy, director, Shark Rescue - Hong Kong
Provide more support for police
I agree with the letter by Candy Tam ('Untouchable drivers need reining in', November 18) that the violation of traffic laws is widespread and that drivers are undermining respect for police officers and traffic wardens.
Your correspondent refers to the police force's prevalent use of verbal warnings against inviolate drivers. I suggest two possible reasons why senior officers are discouraging their officers on the beat from taking more rigorous action.
Firstly, they wish to keep crime figures statistically low; and, secondly, they consider traffic violations a low priority and are unwilling to commit manpower.
Anyone who has been involved in giving a statement will know how excruciatingly laborious police procedures can be, particularly for the officer involved. The handwritten process appears more in tune with the 19th than the 21st century.
Our police officers deserve better support with updated systems and the latest mobile technology; and our community deserves officers and wardens who will take the initiative to enforce the law.
P . C. Law, Quarry Bay