Letters to the Editor, March 14, 2013
Make better use of empty sports grounds
I would not be in favour of land on which underused sports facilities, yacht clubs and camp sites are located being turned into sites for new flats.
I understand that the housing problem is one of the most serious and urgent issues we face in Hong Kong. Therefore, it is reasonable for the government to want to find more land and build as many additional flats as possible. But these underused facilities should not be taken over for residential developments.
The government has been trying to promote sports within the community, such as special sports days. Its own sports facilities are very popular with the public. It would not make sense for the administration to promote exercise, but shut sports grounds.
Many of the places which have been suggested for residential use are in remote parts of Hong Kong. Flats built there would not be popular with people from the middle class and grass roots who need to commute every day to urban areas.
There is a lot of unused land in urban areas, much of which has been turned into temporary car parks. Clear the cars and I'm sure you could construct thousands of apartments which would be in demand.
Also, empty industrial buildings can be converted for residential use, or be demolished and replaced by flats. There are always other options and there is no need to take back these sports facilities and clubs.
If they are being underused, as is claimed, then the government could ensure greater public access. For example, private club leases could have a clause that club facilities must be opened to the public or the leases will not be renewed. The government could even jointly run facilities with some clubs, which would guarantee public access.
Also if some venues show little usage, this may be an indication that improvements are needed in the government's sports promotions campaigns, especially in schools. More television advertising is needed to get Hongkongers involved in sport.
James Lee Kam-fai, Tsuen Wan
Windfall for councils must be spent wisely
In his election campaign for chief executive, Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong's district councils should resolve district problems, manage some facilities and "carry out signature projects". To that end he pledged a one-off grant of HK$100 million for each of the city's 18 districts.
I am concerned about the feasibility of this proposal given that questions have been raised about the efficiency and credibility of our district councils.
The key public concern must be how the money will be spent.
Will it be used wisely to tackle serious problems within the district? I am not happy about councillors having the right to determine how these funds will be allocated without citizens having any say at all.
I am concerned that projects may be implemented that do nothing to bring about improvements in people's living conditions. Residents in districts do not want to see this money wasted.
In addition, when allocating the funds, the councils must ensure the projects it chooses do not just help the area at the expense of Hong Kong's overall development.
Without comprehensive macro-urban planning, the sustainable development of the SAR may be hindered. If this happens, it is the citizens who end up losing out.
Insufficient safeguards are in place to ensure this money is used in the right way.
District councillors must consult residents about how the money should be spent and the consultation process should be thorough. Also, officials should be vigilant and keep a close watch on the councils' spending proposals.
Vincent Hui Chi-hin, Sha Tin
Ensure our children eat properly
A Chinese University study has shown that intake of vitamin D and calcium were "just 60 and 70 per cent respectively of the Chinese Recommended Nutrient Intake" ("Toddlers fed too much sodium: study", March 8).
I think all concerned people and organisations should pay attention to what is clearly a serious problem.
Good nutrition during infancy is an important part of a child's well-being. Insufficient or excessive intake of key nutrient elements may adversely affect their growth and long-term development.
For example, the lack of vitamin D can lead to the development of rickets in children.
Insufficient calcium may also cause osteoporosis, tooth problems and even retard growth.
An excessive intake of sodium may lead to high blood pressure and increased calcium loss.
In order to solve this problem, public education is important. Schools must teach students about the importance of taking key vitamins.
There could be a reward system if they eat all the food they are given containing the vitamins that they need so they can grow up healthy.
Parents also need to be aware of the importance of nutrition and ensure that they are good role models for their children.
Jane Leung, Tseung Kwan O
Race organiser left signs at country parks
It is time for organisations that set up races in Hong Kong's country parks to clean up their act. While they may have little control over the litter thrown around by participants, surely the least they could do is to remove the signs they use to guide their races.
On Sunday, March 10, while hiking on stage three of the MacLehose Trail in Sai Kung Country Park, we noticed scores of signs and pink ribbons for a race that had been run on March 3.
My first impression was that the race ("Adventure Terra Race") was happening on the day we were walking. But when I read the small print, the signs said that it "is used to point the race direction for the trail running race on March 3 and will be removed immediately after the race". We were there a week later.
Late or no removal of signs by race organisers such as this one happens all too frequently.
My suggestion is that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department demands a standard deposit of say HK$10,000 from race organisers before authorising them to use one of the country parks for their race.
The deposit would only be refundable if the organisers removed all signage immediately at the end of the race.
Failure to do so should also see them forfeit the right to run any races in country parks for at least 12 months.
Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung
Soft frisbees allowed at sitting-out area
I refer to the letter by Josephine Bersee ("Selective ban on games poor use of space", February 24).
I would like to clarify that ball games are not banned at the Green Lane Service Reservoir sitting-out area. This area is under the management of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
The main facilities provided there include a grassed area and a jogging track. Because of site constraints, the grassed area is not designed as a proper sports field for formal ball games but a free play area for people to enjoy and relax.
Leisure activities such as tai chi, morning exercise, casual ball games and soft frisbees, are always allowed as long as they do not cause any risk and nuisance to other users.
We have briefed our venue staff again on the proper way to explain this to the public.
After reviewing the notices displayed at the venue, the one saying "No ball games, no frisbees" was considered unnecessary and has been removed.
Melissa Yick Sau-ping, district leisure services manager (Wan Chai), Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Shopping sprees bad for city's teens
The problem of consumer spending by teenagers in Hong Kong appears to becoming more serious.
More young people are spending money in an irresponsible manner.
It may make them feel good when they buy a luxury item, but they should realise it does not bring them true happiness and they should think about how hard their parents worked to earn that money.
Youngsters should think more carefully about their spending habits and try to lead more meaningful lives.
Kate Chan, Sau Mau Ping
Persistent freezing on Now TV
Now that Cheung Kong is cashed up after the Apex Horizon hotel sale, perhaps it could lend some money to its mates at Now TV, who obviously need help in resolving their atrocious reception performance.
Freezing is the norm rather than the exception, especially the Australian Network channel and particularly on weekends.
Such freezing lasts for half an hour or longer on a recurring basis. Renewal of the set-top box, the modem and phone connections in the apartment and to the building have all been effected.
Another example of the consumer being ripped off by a Hong Kong oligopoly?
Wendy McTavish, Central