Letters to the Editor, November 30, 2012
Harbourfront cycle path to be considered
I refer to the letter from Susan Evans questioning why cycling activities are not allowed at the newly opened promenade at Central harbourfront ("No justification for bike ban on harbour path", November 27).
This section of the newly completed promenade has just been handed over to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for management. It serves mainly as a passageway on the waterfront connecting people from the Central piers No 9 and No 10 in the west to Tamar Park and the Admiralty area in the east. Given the site's linear configuration and stepping topography, footpaths with widths varying from 1.5 metres to six metres and viewing platforms at different levels are provided in the promenade.
The promenade is managed as a temporary development to enable the public to enjoy the harbour as soon as possible before the completion of the comprehensive development of the entire new Central harbourfront in the longer run.
Given the size and topographic constraints of the footpath, designated cycling lanes cannot be provided at the moment. To avoid causing a nuisance and potential danger to other users, especially the elderly and children, cycling activities are currently not allowed on the promenade.
We will explore the possibility of providing a cycling path at this location when the comprehensive development is considered in the longer term.
Richard Wong, chief leisure manager (Hong Kong West), Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Inaction on pollution paid in lives lost
Pollution has become a daily topic of conversation, but it is all talk and more talk.
The Hong Kong government is doing very little to ease the problem.
I recently left the polluted skies of this city and visited Shenzhen and the change was amazing - blue skies, police cars and even taxis powered by electricity.
Our administration could start the ball rolling by changing all government cars to run on electricity.
The police could also help. At one time the traffic police stuck a pipe up the exhaust of a vehicle to check its emission. If it failed the test, it was given two weeks to correct it.
I have not seen this done in many a year.
The longer the government takes to act, the shorter will be the lives of our children.
John Fleming, Tai Kok Tsui
Still haunted by the spectre of poverty
Some people have been lying awake at night, thinking about our current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying having some unauthorised structures around his homes.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of citizens often lie awake at night because they have to endure inadequate housing.
Also, there are divisions within the Legislative Council over the proposed Old Age Living Allowance. Some lawmakers want an allowance tailored their way or not at all.
Some of them have even used filibuster tactics to stall the debate. This has ensured that the elderly who need this money now will have to wait. I think this is a mean tactic.
Surely all parties can work together to ensure that those elderly who are struggling get an all-important Christmas gift?
I was desperately poor in my childhood, with six of us living in one room.
It saddens me that Hong Kong is still haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past.
Rosa Chan, Lai Chi Kok
Expat influx no cure for hospital woes
I do not agree with those who argue that relaxing the restrictions on foreign recruitment of doctors is a long-term solution to the health-care problems Hong Kong faces.
Working conditions in Hong Kong hospitals are totally different to those experienced by foreign doctors in their hospitals at home.
These doctors might find it difficult to adapt to conditions here, such as the heavy workload and having to function effectively in a congested environment.
Therefore, there is always a risk that if they struggle to adapt, they might make medical blunders which could harm patients.
The shortage of doctors is a chronic problem.
Different solutions have been proposed to increase the quality and efficiency of hospital services, but they have failed to deal with this shortage.
Also, the pressure on hospitals has been exacerbated by the influx of women coming here from the mainland to give birth.
In the long term the solution is to increase places for students at the medical faculties of our universities.
The government could also provide more funds for hospitals to buy better medical equipment.
More doctors and better facilities can reduce the burden on staff in our hospitals, and then we will have a better quality of patient care.
Regina Kwong, Tsuen Wan
Pass law to ease stress on bus drivers
Following the crash involving two buses and a taxi near Shau Kei Wan, there is clearly a need to look at the possible stress bus drivers face in their work ("Bus driver 'collapsed' before crash", November 20).
If it is the case that the drivers are suffering from excessive stress, then measures should be taken to address this problem.
I do think that they are under too much pressure, as are minibus drivers who are sometimes too busy to take a proper meal break. They have a schedule or timetable set by the minibus operators and perhaps they fear some sort of penalty system if they do not meet their targets, penalties such as salary deductions.
Obviously the franchised bus companies also have timetables and these now have to be examined more closely. We have to ensure that they are designed in such a way that drivers can take proper rest periods. If the schedules are too tight, then obviously that will be more difficult and the problem will be made worse if there are not enough drivers allocated to a particular route.
People who have to work long hours without a break become tired and are more prone to make mistakes. If it is someone behind the wheel of a bus who makes that mistake, it can have serious consequences.
I would like to see the government pass legislation to set standard working hours. This will ensure that all Hong Kong citizens are able to take adequate breaks in the workplace, including bus drivers. It will also reduce the incidence of traffic accidents.
Kitty Li , Kowloon City
Handouts are a winner for Macau
I disagree with your editorial ("Macau gambles with its future", November 21) about the decision by the Macau government to sanction the "biggest handouts since 2008" to its citizens.
The administration has made the decision to help residents, especially those who are from deprived sections of society and who cannot afford what they require to lead comfortable and contented lives.
The aim is to give to those in need, and this extends not only to material poverty, but also to the many forms of cultural and spiritual poverty.
You are wrong to say that "benevolent as such payments may seem, though, it is poor financial management; authorities should be thinking about tomorrow, not simply today".
Such benevolence fosters reciprocity.
It is a sign of friendship and communion of the government with its people.
You also say that the "cash would be better spent directly confronting Macau's challenges". I believe the government is spending its cash prudently and that there is no better way to use it.
These latest and previous allocations of money are benefiting its people.
You also say that the Hong Kong administration has tried wealth sharing and has not repeated it. However, Macau and Hong Kong are different societies.
I do not think the Macau administration has given away money "on a whim".
It has planned its spending strategy, which looks to the welfare of its citizens.
Diogo Fernandes, Macau
Early risers know city's dirty secret
Subid Ranjan Das must be a newcomer to Hong Kong because he states that you "hardly see a dirty car on the roads, in stark contrast to many, if not most, European cities" ("Efficient HK no techno basket case," November 24).
He said this to counter the complaint about the absence of self-service facilities at petrol stations (and presumably car-washes) and automated check-out counters at supermarkets.
Your correspondent probably does not get up early enough in the morning to see female migrant domestic helpers washing their employers' cars.
Many have to do this before being allowed to take their days off on Sundays. They then have to be back because of imposed curfew hours, despite the labour contract stipulating their entitlement to 24 hours off a week, as Nisa A. Crutchfield pointed out ("Crack down on errant maid employers", November 23).
It's a long-standing local tradition religiously observed in this Asian "world city".
Isabel Escoda, Lantau