Letters to the Editor, November 29, 2012
Creative ways to enforce ban on idle engines
I refer to the letter by Sai Pradhan ("Weak law on idling engine ban is proving impossible to enforce", November 26).
I totally agree that the Statutory Ban Against Idling of Motor Vehicle Engines is a pitiful piece of legislation that has made a laughing stock of the transport and environmental protection departments.
Your correspondent appeals to drivers to "do the right thing", but we live in an extremely selfish city and such an appeal is bound to fall on deaf ears.
However, there is a well-known resident of Tsim Sha Tsui who has a much more direct way of addressing smug, obstinate and inconsiderate drivers. This lady carries an A4-size sign in Chinese characters that makes it absolutely clear to any driver that she does not appreciate their idling fumes. She brandishes this sign until they switch off.
She may be "five foot two and eyes of blue" but her fortitude is remarkably effective: even the surliest drivers submit.
The police, traffic wardens and environmental protection inspectors have shown themselves to be impotent on this matter, and citizens who value their lungs should take similar vigilante action.
I have found that just gaining the driver's attention and pointing at their ignition key is enough to make them comply with the law.
Frank Lee, Wan Chai
Unconstrained development ruined area
I refer to the article on Sai Kung ("Friendly town where everyone's a local", November 16).
I lived in Sha Kok Mei, in Sai Kung, for seven years in the 1990s.
When I moved in, the village had two streams, with terrapins, small subtropical fish with brightly coloured fins, and associated bird life.
When I left, the streams had been filled with concrete and the fish were long gone. Property prices were soaring. After four years in Singapore, I returned to Hong Kong in 1995 and immediately went flat-hunting in Sai Kung.
What I found was an appalling mess of unconstrained housing development driven by a mass exodus of bankers and their associated overpaid ilk seeking refuge from Central's smog. If everyone knows each other's name, it's only because they have little choice in the cheek-by-jowl mess that Sai Kung has become.
The truth of the story is in the third-from-last paragraph where a Sai Kung shop owner admits "it can become unbearably crowded for locals".
Nice place to live if you are retired and can retreat to the country park. Hong Kong's officials should take a long, hard look at how Sai Kung has "developed" and take note: Lantau is in danger of going the same way.
Ben Richardson, Lantau
Forum to discuss best use of RMB
It was good to read of plans to step up the Bank of China's RMB operations in London ("Bank of China to expand UK yuan trade", November 26).
Working with Hong Kong, London has recently overtaken Singapore as the leading international offshore RMB centre in terms of RMB payments with Hong Kong and mainland China. Next week in London the second meeting of the London-Hong Kong International RMB Forum will explore how best to support the international use of RMB. This will also provide a particularly good opportunity for European companies trading with China to explore the products and services available in the global RMB market.
Almost a year after the launch of the forum by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Norman Chan Tak-lam, we now have a full range of RMB products and services in London. These include "dim sum" bonds from a diverse range of issuers - HSBC, ANZ and Banco do Brasil - and an FX market accounting for over a quarter of global RMB foreign exchange trading. Hong Kong has also continued to develop its infrastructure for RMB payments and settlements as well as launching new derivative instruments denominated in RMB.
Hong Kong and London complement each other, and increased RMB business in London is good news for both centres. Indeed, London and Hong Kong have taken the lead in ensuring that the global RMB market develops as an enlarged, single integrated pool of liquidity with uniform settlement characteristics and yield curves. Next week's forum is an opportunity for private sector participants from the 10 leading banks in the global RMB market to discuss how to make further progress.
Caroline Wilson, British consul-general, Hong Kong
ATV, TVB will benefit from competition
Given that audiences in Hong Kong have a limited choice of television channels I think the government should grant new TV licences.
The new licences can offer greater variety. With the only offerings available coming from ATV and TVB, audiences often have to endure boring programmes throughout the day and at night.
It would also bring more revenue to the government as the new channels will generate more on-screen advertising.
There have been complaints about the competition that ATV and TVB will face, but this will encourage these stations to produce high-quality programmes.
Yeung Po-yi, To Kwa Wan
Crackdown on black factories long overdue
On the mainland there are many unregistered workshops, known as black factories, which operate without observing the government's health and safety regulations.
It saddens me when I read about workers who are badly hurt in these places. In some cases they may lose a limb in an accident.
They know the dangers that they face but take the jobs offered, because they often have limited opportunities and need to earn a living.
I think the authorities should be taking action over these black factories and they should consider the situation of workers and the risks they face.
The government should ensure that the relevant safety regulations are obeyed at these premises, given that the injury rate is rising.
I wish officials could put themselves in the place of these workers and appreciate the unnecessary risks they are taking.
I would also like to see the media doing more to highlight abuses in these black factories and raising awareness by interviewing some of the employees.
Bessy Mak, Lai Chi Kok
Restaurants must take note of allergies
I am worried about the lack of awareness in Hong Kong restaurants of the severity of some nut and other food allergies.
On November 15, I went for afternoon tea at Azure in Hotel LKF with my mother-in-law, daughter and two friends. As we placed our order, we made it clear I was seriously allergic to nuts and to ask the kitchen what food contained nuts. The waiter came back and said only the macaroon and brownie had nuts.
When the platters came out, I noticed that the cheesecake had pistachios sprinkled on it.
I was careful not to touch it and only had a raspberry tart. Soon after I ate it, I felt my top palate begin to swell. We quickly asked the waiter to check what was in the tart. He returned and said it contained pistachio paste.
The manager was called and tried to reassure us that the amount of pistachio was very little. What he didn't realise was that even very little can be fatal.
Nut and other food allergies can be severe. My allergy to nuts can lead to anaphylactic shock if not dealt with immediately. Luckily I had allergy pills with me and took them straight away. We rushed to hospital and they had to give me injections. I was ill for hours after that.
Azure is a restaurant in the heart of Central and caters to a local and international clientele. I would have expected more from them in terms of understanding people with food allergies and was very disappointed.
Hong Kong restaurants need to be more vigilant about people with special dietary restrictions.
I hope this letter makes people more aware and sensitive to the severity of people with food allergies.
Clara Montesinos, Happy Valley
Education can help curb teen pregnancy
The rate of teenage pregnancy in Hong Kong is a cause for concern.
I think the problem will get worse if we do not find ways to help youngsters.
Even though we live in a conservative society, schools must have comprehensive sex education.
Some adolescents get pregnant because of misconceptions about sex.
They may be ignorant of the consequences of their actions, and so schools need to have lessons teaching sex education so that they know the risks involved.
The government can also help with the education process through posters and adverts warning the public that teen pregnancy is a problem in Hong Kong that we must address.
If we pay more attention to this problem, then I am sure we can eventually see a reduction in the teen pregnancy rate.
Chung Wing-yan, Kwun Tong