Lamma ferry crash

Letters to the editor, October 6, 2012

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 11:37pm

Safety issue broader than just on water

The tragic deaths off Lamma Island and Shek O beach should act as a reminder to all agencies concerned with public safety of their unique responsibility.

Laws and regulations pertaining to safety do exist; it is their enforcement that is found wanting.

May I, as a long-suffering pedestrian, ask the Hong Kong Police Force, whose officers are ubiquitous on street corners and when minor mainland government officials grace us with a visit, why no action is taken to limit the speed at which vehicles of all description travel on our main inner-city thoroughfares? Perhaps a timely reminder is in order: speed kills.

It is well and good stopping drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or travelling a few kilometres over the limit on a Sunday morning along the airport highway; however, they are but a minute percentage of those drivers who daily put the lives of others at risk and do so with impunity.

Incidentally, could anyone tell me what the speed limit is on inner-city roads? There is a paucity of signs to tell us.

May I, as a frequent visitor to Hong Kong's beaches, ask the Leisure and Cultural Services Department why lifeguards, who are in abundance on gazetted beaches, are not more proactive in averting the possibility of an accident? Rather than viewing the scene from their towers or rafts, surely some should be on the water's edge, warning weak swimmers of potential dangers?

As a society, we must accept that it is the duty and responsibility of all of us, whatever our standing, to ensure that we act in a manner that does not endanger the safety of others as well as our own.

Jim Francis, North Point


Build public memorial to lost lives

In light of the National Day ferry accident, which has saddened and touched the hearts of all Hong Kong people, I have a suggestion to make to Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing.

Build a publicly funded memorial and columbarium for those who died, and put it on Lamma Island, where not only the families and friends of those who died may go to grieve, but other caring Hongkongers might go to pay their respects. Ideally the site should overlook where the tragedy occurred.

Constructing memorials and mass resting places for those who have perished in large numbers is quite common in both Eastern and Western cultures.

The mainland has martyrs' memorials in various cities which commemorate those who gave their lives in revolutions, and Europe and the US have memorials to tragic events that took many lives.

Only the government has the power and resources necessary to fast-track this suggestion within a few days. The haste is necessary because grieving relatives need to know and make quick decisions on whether to allow their loved ones' remains to be interred in a public memorial such as this or alternatively make private interment arrangements.

P.A. Crush, Sha Tin


Marine laws need to be toughened

Why are narrow mono-hull ferries allowed to have an upper deck, often loaded to capacity, with only one exit? Unlike land vehicles, watercraft have to contend with wave action, which will cause tall, narrow ones to be more unstable.

Besides maritime and insurance laws, maybe it is time to review passenger ferry design regulations with the same enthusiasm as real estate and cars, with a large dose of physics and safety requirements thrown in. It's logical to surmise that taller craft will require wider hulls. It's also interesting to note the old, open-sided passenger ferries are infinitely more stable, functional and attractive than all the later additions in the harbour.

Edwin Lim, Pok Fu Lam


Museum can highlight smoking ills

I refer to the report "Activists fuming over tobacco museum" (September 27). In the news, it tells that permission for a tobacco factory in Shanghai was denied, so it was converted into a tobacco museum. It was criticised because some people thought it might send a wrong message that smoking is OK.

Another argument against the museum was that the costs were high, and tobacco museums already existed in Shandong and Yunnan .

I think it's a good idea to build such a museum in a big city. Tobacco has been around since ancient times. It can make people feel relaxed.

In my opinion, building a tobacco museum can let more people know about tobacco and its health hazards.

Cheung Hiu-fung, Tsuen Wan


Openness key for global finance hub

As we await the convening of the 18th Communist Party Congress and the stated deadline of 2020 for making Shanghai a global financial centre, can any of the outgoing or incoming cadres tell me when I'll be able to access Bloomberg on the mainland?

Although Bloomberg has been censored since it ran an article about three months ago on Xi Jinping's extended family's wealth, Asahi Shimbun in Japan ran a nearly identical article and is not blocked.

Ronald Fons, Peng Chau


Open hearts to low-paid helper legions

For the second year in a row, the government has decided to raise the minimum wage for 300,000 foreign domestic helpers, and I agree that they deserve it. They have to be on call 24 hours a day, and many get only one week of holiday a year.

They came to Hong Kong, a strange land, to earn more money. Reports have said some of these maids have university degrees in their own countries that are not recognised elsewhere. We should put ourselves in their shoes.

Inflation is a serious problem. Some employees do not get pay rises, so they must think it is not fair to raise the wages of their maids. We should think from another angle. The maids look after our family members and do our cleaning every day. If we give a reasonable salary, they must do their best.

A passage in the news report stated it was simply unfair for local workers to keep fighting for better employment conditions, like standard working hours, but deny their foreign counterparts an equal right to earn better wages. So we should respect our foreign helpers and try our best to help them.

Kico Chan, Aberdeen


True religion a model of compassion

I am writing regarding the letter of Michael Jenkins ("Does anyone teach religious tolerance?", October 3) and Rishi Teckchandani ("Love is the true religion for all people", October 4).

I have been studying religions for a long time, and what Mr Jenkins says is not true: I guess he does not know major religions very well, and he is a just a follower of what he hears or reads in newspapers. Major religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - are all based on peace and harmony.

Jesus is a good example. His outstanding parable: if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the left one. The prophet Mohammed allowed Christian priests to pray in his mosque; they came to the prophet to learn about Islam and when they asked for a prayer break, he left the mosque to them.

Today, not all Muslims are always so tolerant, except in Turkey. More than 30,000 Christians and Jews live there in peace and freedom to pray in their religion. If some imams promote killing innocent civilians in a jihad, this act has nothing to do with Islam, which says killing an innocent person is considered the same as killing all of humanity. Some Christian clergy preach that all other religions are bad. This is not true Christianity. Jesus spent his life teaching love for everyone.

Terrorism and evil have no nation, no race and no religion. I totally agree with Mr Teckchandani that all problems on earth can be solved through mutual understanding, accepting and loving one another regardless of race, colour, religion or nation. Love and compassion cure all problems between religions.

David Chamber, Tsim Sha Tsui


Mainlanders must mind their manners

With all the talk of national education in Hong Kong, I think there's a lack of what I call civil education on the mainland.

China is becoming a superpower, and as Beijing puts economic development before everything, civil education does not get much attention from the government or the ordinary people, which leads to a poor quality of citizenship there.

Mainlanders are sometimes regarded as rude and having bad manners. I have seen them talking loudly in public, eating on public transport and displaying other bad behaviour. Perhaps they do not feel there is anything wrong with their behaviour because they are used to acting like that.

If they had been taught good manners when they were young, I am sure we wouldn't see some of these sights.

The central government needs to review its education policy to avoid the people of a future superpower being laughed at by other foreigners.

Koey Cheung, Sham Shui Po