Accident issue cause for concern
Transport and Housing Secretary Eva Cheng cited various statistics to defend implementation of the cross-border driving scheme ('Mainland cars are no menace, crash data says', February 16).
According to her figures, mainland left-hand drive vehicles are safer on our roads than our own Hong Kong vehicles.
The critical point I feel is whether there is a user-friendly mechanism in place for the average Hong Kong person to easily and successfully prosecute in the case of traffic accidents involving mainland vehicles.
Out-of-jurisdiction prosecution cases are hard in terms of financial costs and administrative hurdles. The average salaried worker can ill-afford such a luxury.
This scheme appears only to benefit a small group of business elites on both ends, as well as perhaps anyone involved in servicing these elites. For the normal Hong Kong road user, there is only increased congestion, pollution and accident risks, as well as difficulty in claiming compensation.
What can you do if your family member is injured or killed in a hit-and-run accident involving a left-hand-drive vehicle?
If we don't raise our concerns now, it will no longer be possible to stem the flow and we will only be able to suffer in silence.
Just look at the parallel tourist scenario. The floodgates opened and we are physically swamped by all manner of mainland tourists and visitors, not just the well-mannered cultured ones who are very welcome.
Wing Lee, Tai Hang
More cars last thing we need in city
As an inhabitant of Causeway Bay much of the time, I have to agree with Paul Zimmerman that the introduction of even more vehicles is a very unwelcome development ('Cross-border car influx will ride roughshod over city's pedestrians', February 10).
While I try to walk from place to place, I find myself hemmed in by railings. It seems they are there more for the protection of vehicles than us cattle-like pedestrians.
After living here for more than three decades, I think the government's head-in-the-sand attitude to the environment is the major problem I face every day. Hong Kong has advanced in so many ways with its urban structure but the blue skies of the 1970s are long since gone.
We will pay the price for that eventually, or at least our children will.
Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam
Get rid of Soviet-style taxi fleet
I wholly agree with Anton Meneghella ('Taxi rides nausea inducing', February 6) about the appalling driving standards of taxis.
Also, why do we have to put up with Soviet 1970s-style Toyota taxis? This surely must be an embarrassment even for Toyota which does produce better vehicles.
Part of the misery of the journey in one has to be the plank-like and often torn vinyl seat which requires one to belt up not just to comply with the law but to prevent falling off the seat and onto the floor. Grimy windows and stale air and the usual high-volume call-centre radio complete the experience.
Arriving in Singapore, one is greeted with a fleet of new model taxis, often Mercedes, whose pleasant drivers and clean interiors are in sharp contrast to their Hong Kong counterparts.
Why are we stuck with these relics which are more befitting of a third-world country than a first-world aspirational metropolis?
Catherine LaJeunesse, Sai Kung
Far better singers than Houston
The brouhaha over the death of Whitney Houston shows what a pop age we live in.
I found all the front-page coverage absurd, with even the BBC World Service using it as its top item. Perhaps this is seen as a diversion from the depressing news of wars and crooked politicians we constantly get.
Entertainment seems to provide escapism for a jaded public.
Houston was certainly not a great singer, but she was a good yeller, which seems to be what most soul singers are.
It's all about lung power, not style or class.
She certainly couldn't compare with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Etta James and even Barbra Streisand. But because she was pretty and a product of her agents and make-up artists, she became a superstar and celebrity.
L. M. S. Valerio, Tin Hau
Housing initiatives still inadequate
In his budget speech, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said that government expenditure was estimated to increase by 7 per cent in 2012-13.
He outlined many measures, but I would like to focus on subsidised housing policies.
Mr Tsang announced that 75,000 public rental flats would be built in the five-year period starting from 2011-12 and the aim was to maintain the average waiting time at around three years.
He also referred to six sites which had been earmarked for the first batch of Home Ownership Scheme flats in Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Yuen Long.
Housing has been a long-term problem for many Hongkongers and it has become more serious.
So many people are waiting for a flat in a public estate and some have had no choice but to rent a subdivided unit. But this sort of accommodation would be unsafe if there is a fire, because they are overcrowded and exits may be too narrow or even be blocked.
I think that the government has to do more than was announced in the budget with regard to its housing policies.
It must provide even more public rental apartments, not just to help tenants of the subdivided flats, but also for the sake of other people on low incomes and the elderly.
Wincy Wong Wing-yiu, Kowloon Bay
Care for elderly can be improved
I refer to the report ('Couple's ordeal spurs call for change in elderly care', February 8).
I feel sorry for this old couple who are seeking places [together] in a home for the elderly.
This incident exposes the plight of the elderly in Hong Kong.
There can be no doubt that the government has adopted many policies with regard to the health and welfare of old people in the city, but there is clearly still room for improvement.
A lot of people are still waiting to be given a placement in a home for the elderly and there is no one to take care of any of them. Also, within society, we still read of cases of abuse of old people.
The government must allocate more resources in its budget for the care of our pensioners.
It must deal with the shortage of old folks' homes and ensure that more placements are made available.
More funds must be allocated for home-care services and they must be closely monitored.
Also, in order to curb abuse, the government must get the message across, through advertising, that old people deserve kindness and respect.
During their working lives, these elderly people contributed to our society and they deserve to enjoy a happy and secure old age.
Ki Ki Chu, Tsuen Wan
Population committee lacks website
The controversy of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong has prompted calls for a review of the city's population policy.
To find out our existing population policy, I tried to look for any information on the Steering Committee on Population Policy, set up in 2007 under the chairmanship of the chief secretary for administration.
To my astonishment, I could not find any website designated for such an important committee, which is supposedly tasked with the duty of monitoring the implementation of the government's population measures.
What the committee has discussed is nowhere to be seen. Shouldn't it be accountable to the public and make its policies transparent?
It would help if the relevant department could advise where the general public can search for information on the government's population agenda.
In particular, as a candidate in the chief executive election as well as a former chief secretary who once chaired the committee, Henry Tang Ying-yen should tell us his views on the population policy.
Michael Ko, Sham Shui Po