Letters to the Editor, August 31, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 August, 2012, 2:18am

Traders a real nuisance on border trains

As a regular traveller on the East Rail train between Tai Po and Lo Wu over the last few years, I have seen so many changes occur as a result of the granting of multiple visitor permits to residents of Shenzhen.

These trains are now crowded with freight moving from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, with the volume and number of people increasing every week.

The crossing has become a nightmare journey. I have had my leg cut twice by people running trolleys through crowded areas with little regard for others.

I have also seen small schoolchildren being crushed inside the trains as the traders tried to force their overloaded trolleys into the first carriage of the train so they could get in to the immigration line faster.

There are people, old and young, pushing heavily laden trolleys into other people as they rush to offload their goods and get back over the border for another load.

I have also witnessed fist fights between Chinese customs officials and traders, which casts a very poor image of the mainland for tourists visiting Shenzhen

There are people on the mainland side waiting to pay for these goods and load them into dozens of minivans to distribute in Shenzhen and beyond.

I have no problem with people doing this as it's a way for them to make money and it will become an attractive option for more individuals.

There are solutions that the authorities might want to consider:

  • Allow only two border crossings a day unless a person has a genuine reason for more;
  • Have a special channel for traders so they do not push these trolleys through areas where non-traders are lining up at immigration desks; and
  • Designate the last carriages on the East Rail Line for traders with freight.

Thomas Beckett, Tai Po


HK's filthy air poses threat to economy

As a Hongkonger, I inevitably worry about the competitiveness of the SAR.

The edge that it has is that it is a free market with little government intervention, which attracts abundant foreign investment. This is a comparative advantage that has resulted in Hong Kong becoming an international finance centre.

But with the pollution caused by cars and buses, our air quality is deteriorating.

If action is not taken, we might find it more difficult to attract investors. I hope that new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying recognises this and that he will take measures to address these problems.

Natalie Yuen Choi-wah, Hung Hom


Government must act on pollution

It is high time that the government faced up to Hong Kong's notoriously bad air quality and produced effective anti-pollution measures.

The tourism industry is suffering because of this problem. A survey conducted by Friends of the Earth revealed that about 40 per cent of tour guides had received complaints by tourists about the pollution levels.

This is a problem, given that this cosmopolitan city relies heavily on visitors.

I can understand how holidaymakers must feel making the trip up to The Peak and not being able to enjoy the view because of thick smog. We will not see a revival of our international reputation unless the government acts.

I am not saying that the government has done nothing. It brought in the idling engine ban law and launched the Action Blue Skies campaign. But it must recognise that the need to come up with tougher, longer-term solutions is its top priority. Low-emission zones need to be set up and subsidies offered to car owners so they can replace diesel-powered with liquefied-petroleum-powered vehicles.

However, people should not just wait for the government to act. We can all do our bit to try and reduce our carbon footprint by, for example, taking public transport and using less electricity.

Poon Kam-lung, Ma On Shan


Time to take conservation seriously

Markus Shaw ("Hoi Ha riches won't survive official dereliction of duty", August 22) draws attention to a documented example showing that the common patrimony in special places like Hoi Ha needs better official protection.

A change in official attitude and priority towards conservation and planning is needed. The rule of law must be respected to ensure good governance. Turning a blind eye is no longer acceptable in the eyes of the public.

The cumulative impacts from piecemeal applications in sensitive areas must not be allowed to undermine the general planning intention and planning process to zone country park enclaves for the wider public interest.

The new administration has an opportunity to enforce a change for better governance. Our obligations to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity and its governing principles will help this process.

With thorough investigation work by the relevant departments - including those for environmental protection; agriculture, fisheries and conservation; and planning - leading to evidence-based decision-making in statutory boards, both private and public interests can be taken into account.

Let us hope a new attitude and ethic will prevail so that, for our future benefit, all our special places are better conserved.

Ruy Barretto SC, Central


Summer jobs can give youth a head start

It has been reported that summer jobs are harder to find for teenagers this year.

This a pity because young people can benefit a lot from having a holiday job. With fewer vacancies, their learning opportunities have decreased. Work experience is invaluable for them and it can make them more competitive when they try to enter the full-time job market.

Teenagers can begin to develop interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

Also, if they know the field they want to work in, they might even pick up some industry-specific knowledge.

They also begin to comprehend the importance of money management.

This is something youngsters would traditionally learn at home but, with many families now, both parents work and can't give the same degree of guidance.

Teenagers can learn to appreciate the importance of saving their hard-earned income.

Some parents may be very protective and would be concerned about the risks involved in some summer jobs.

However, I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Even though summer jobs do appear to be in short supply nowadays in Hong Kong, I would still advise young people to make the effort and try to take any work experience opportunities that becomes available.

They will find it will benefit them when they pursue their chosen career path.

Yeung Hoi-ping, Kwun Tong


Arbitration the way to settle island disputes

Several articles and contributing letters in the last few weeks about the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands have misrepresented history and have not created a favourable climate for a solution.

Pierce Lam ("United States and Japan should correct historical wrongs", August 27) scolded the US for engaging in too many wars.

However, let's not forget that mainly it was the US that defeated Japan in the Pacific War and provided military assistance to China.

Who knows, were it not for the US, China and Hong Kong might still be under Japanese rule today. So we should be thankful to America and not scold.

The evidence regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands is not clear-cut.

Some historical maps and references describe the islands as Chinese, others as Japanese. China never did much on the islands, but Japan undertook a survey and had a commercial settlement there for many decades.

This conflict has been going on for years, as have been the conflicts involving the Paracels, Scarborough [Shoal], Spratly, Kuril, Dokdo/Takeshima and other islands.

All these conflicts perpetuate mistrust and lack of co-operation in East and Southeast Asia, hinder economic development and are misused for political purposes.

But all the countries involved are parties to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is an international organisation that has the task to achieve a peaceful settlement of international disputes, including disputes over territorial and maritime boundaries.

What better way to solve these conflicts than to refer them to court, something that these countries should be promoting.

But sadly, what some of those countries promote as the right recipe for others, they don't want in their own backyard.

Jozef Baets, Tai Tam


Cable firms have users over a barrel

Surely it is time for the government to step in stop the exploitation of Hong Kong people by the SAR's cable companies.

Despite the global economic crisis and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's warnings about a possible downturn in Hong Kong's economy, Now TV has seen fit to charge me an additional 25 per cent to renew my cable subscription for exactly the same package.

Even though this is a minor issue compared with housing, health and education, the government must understand that allowing big business to continue to rip off ordinary people at every turn will contribute to social unrest.

Raymond Day, Discovery Bay