Aim to answer 999 calls in nine seconds
I refer to G. Marques' letter ("Delays on 999 call line were unacceptable", October 30), expressing concern about the delays in handling 999 emergency calls.
The Hong Kong police undertake to provide a timely and efficient service for 999 callers 24 hours round the clock.
The performance pledge of police answering all 999 calls is nine seconds.
However, there may be rare occasions - for example, a major disaster - when, despite best efforts, 999 callers may have to wait longer than the pledged time.
When there is a sudden influx of 999 calls, we will immediately redeploy the maximum available resources to respond to incoming calls.
Some 999 callers will receive an automated voice message informing them to wait and stay calm when all 999 operators are engaged. We would therefore like to seek the public's understanding and patience when they encounter such a situation.
The Hong Kong police, as one of the lead emergency response agencies, always give priority to the protection of citizens' lives and property.
We take note of Mr Marques' concern. We will monitor the situation closely and continue to augment our manpower and enhance the system to meet operational needs.
Eddie Wong Kwok-wai, chief superintendent, Police Public Relations Branch
A shining beacon of calm and clarity
With the resignation of Dr Thomas Tsang Ho-fai as head of the Centre for Health Protection, the people of Hong Kong are losing a humane, intelligent and responsible science communicator ("Shock, sadness as 'flu fighter' Thomas Tsang quits", October 27).
Dr Tsang has been a constant shining beacon of calm, clarity and credibility in the face of public health crises, most notably with bird flu, Sars and swine flu.
As the public face and spokesperson of the government's Centre for Health Protection as well as the science community, Dr Tsang always presented information calmly, rationally and fearlessly based on the best available evidence at the time.
He was never tempted to speculate, downplay, exaggerate or generalise. He told things as they were. When he did not know the answer, he would honestly state he didn't know.
Science uses a language that is becoming increasingly foreign to the non-scientific communities.
Being able to shed light to the public, without inducing panic and fear, or generating apathetic thoughts about a probable outcome, is an essential skill.
Dr Tsang has this skill in abundance and with his resignation Hong Kong will be the poorer for it.
Dr William Lai, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Canberra, Australia
Wasted beef could feed poor people
I took a picture of refrigerated shelves still packed with beef in a Hong Kong supermarket at about 9pm on a weekday.
These packs of beef would have been discarded as rubbish after the store closed at 10.30pm for health reasons.
I must stress that this is not an isolated scenario.
This happens every evening and tonnes of beef is thrown into bins. Such large quantities of meat can feed millions of people in Hong Kong, especially our elderly citizens many of whom live in poverty.
Why does this happen? Very simply, because most of us cannot afford beef as it is too expensive.
The price of beef has been soaring for years and the government does not act, giving the excuse that it is a free market.
There are two root causes for this problem. One is the monopoly of the only fresh beef/cattle [mainland] importer - a privilege granted by the government because it must please the north.
The other reason is our depreciating dollar that follows a senseless peg with the US dollar.
Both factors can be reviewed and rectified if officials used their limited wisdom and rectified the problems.
Sometimes I wonder why people in other parts of the world think that Hong Kong is a good place to live.
Joseph Lee, Pok Fu Lam
Tougher laws can make glass windows safer
Windows made from substandard glass can fall from high-rise buildings and put people's lives at risk.
We should be concerned about the number of incidents of broken windows falling in Hong Kong in a variety of estates.
If developers are using tempered glass which contains impurities, this is unacceptable.
The Buildings Department's standards for tempered glass are lower than the standards set in many European countries.
The requirement for a heat bath [testing for impurities] requires 24 hours in Europe but the requirement in Hong Kong is only two hours ("Legco to discuss falling windows", October 25).
Therefore, I think the government should investigate the incidents where glass windows have fallen in estates and review the standards that it has set.
It should look into enacting legislation which allows flat buyers to sue any manufacturers who use material that subsequently is found to be defective.
Also, the government should introduce more stringent tests which examine the quality of glass used on construction projects.
Incidents can be avoided if higher-quality glass is used.
Berlin Chu Chim-ying, Sha Tin
Poppies for sale thin on the ground
Dan Waters ("Remembering dear friends lost in battle", November 4) is to be commended for making the effort to attend the Remembrance Sunday memorial service every year despite his obvious (elderly) age.
However to comply with his plea to buy a poppy is easier said than done.
I understand they are for sale somewhere on the Hong Kong Island side, but apart from a few private clubs, I am unaware of anywhere in Kowloon or the New Territories where they can be purchased.
This situation was not so before the handover when they were readily obtained from sellers on the streets all over Hong Kong, on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday.
Ours is not to reason why, but is the reason for the lack of supply because of misconceptions regarding the use of the money collected?
John Wilson, Yau Ma Tei
Artists need more space to exhibit
Hong Kong has the potential of being a real world city but to really fulfil that dream, it lacks what other major cities around the world have - outlets for their artists and photographers to show their work.
The Fringe Club does its bit, but it can only do so much, and it takes many months to get space in its exhibiting area.
There have to be other venues where the work of local artists can see the light of day.
May I suggest that local hotels could help out by using their lobbies, or perhaps a wall can be set aside in some of the more prominent bookshops in Hong Kong.
Participating venues could be supported with a giveaway arts magazine showing what is being exhibited for that current month.
The cost could be borne by those glossy adverts which we are so used to seeing in Hong Kong.
This in turn will give the general public a chance to see and purchase original artwork at a reasonable cost rather than the astronomical costs that you might well have to pay in the Hollywood Road end of the art spectrum.
If this dream could possibly come about, it would certainly add a creative product to Hong Kong's reputation of being a shoppers' paradise.
Roy Cuthbert, Kam Tin
Plucky girl an outstanding role model
The Swat Valley region in northern Pakistan has been controlled by the Taliban since 2008.
However, in this place full of threats and fear, blood and violence, a young heroine has vowed to fight for freedom and peace.
Malala Yousafzai, 15, started her political career in late 2009.
She started by writing a blog on promoting the education rights of girls and speaking out against terrorism.
Then, she began to appear on TV and stand up against the Taliban publicly.
Malala became famous because she has struggled for equality and freedom. But it made her enemies within Pakistan, which is why an attempt was made to kill her.
Although she had faced death threats, she would not give up, but continued fighting for the rights she considers to be so important. Her bravery and never-fading spirit are really admirable.
We are very fortunate in Hong Kong that we do not have the inequality that exists in Pakistan and do not face threats from terrorists. However, Malala's act of courage could be an example to us all to always have the confidence to express our opinions.
She is a role model and an example to young people here to say what they think and to strive for what they truly want.
Jenna Leung, Sha Tin