Letters to the Editor, March 21, 2013
Ban dealers from selling huskies in HK
I was naturally dismayed to read your reports about an attack on a child in Lantau by a Siberian husky, and I have the utmost sympathy for the child's family.
However, with reference to the letter from Angharad Hampshire of Lantau ("Husky that attacked puts people at risk", March 15), it is important to point out that Siberian huskies are not dangerous dogs. Log on to any expert online site and it explains that the nature of this magnificent breed is actually usually sweet and gentle. Obviously, there are exceptions, and more likely because of the environment and, possibly, inbreeding here in Hong Kong.
In fact, I believe trading this breed should be banned here. They are bred for their looks but their wolverine howls often put people off and hence they are thrown on the streets.
Of greater concern is the fact that you see increasing numbers of Siberian huskies all over Hong Kong and clearly many owners live in tiny flats that are unsuitable for this breed.
These dogs have double coats which make them suffer torture during Hong Kong's summers and they are normally working dogs that are capable of running more than 60 kilometres in a day.
It is not advisable to shave these dogs as, with their blue eyes, they are subject to intense sunburn. In short, they need intense exercise several times a day (with continual water), access to a cool environment and they don't come cheap when it comes to food, plus there are vet bills.
So why are dealers producing them in such vast numbers in such a hostile environment?
My family has always adopted rescue dogs and has had many local dogs over the years.
A year ago, we decided to rescue a Siberian husky suffering from malnutrition and intestinal worms.
He was completely de-socialised. But we have found that we now have the most gentle and polite creature living among us that we could ever have experienced.
But that doesn't excuse the fact that the government allows breeders and traders to cash in on a trade in husky flesh.
Thanks to Hong Kong Dog Rescue in Tai Po, for making it possible for our abandoned dog to live.
Jeny Evan-Jones, Discovery Bay
Backing commercial zone on island
I believe the proposal from an alliance of businesses to develop Lantau into a commercial zone will be beneficial to Hong Kong ("Lantau group keen to woo mainland shoppers", March 11).
The island already has popular tourists spots such as Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360 cable car, and because of that has a well-developed infrastructure. It would be a waste of these resources if a commercial zone was not established.
Lantau has the potential to become another magnet for mainland visitors.
Building more shopping malls will lead to an increase in commercial activities and create more jobs for local residents. This is both beneficial to our society and the economy of the whole city.
Some critics of the Lantau Economic Development Alliance's proposal have questioned its feasibility.
I think it is workable, although it will take time to develop Tung Chung and to divert mainland visitors away from the city's established and overcrowded shopping areas.
It is a way to eventually turn Tung Chung into a more financially successful new town.
Stella Tse, Tai Wai
Clearing up confusion over pope's name
I have appreciated the reports in the South China Morning Post about the new pope, with the particularly interesting article from the The New York Times which included the right pronunciation of the pope's Italian surname Bergoglio ("Humble man with common touch", March 15).
It's too bad it didn't include the pronunciation of his first name because I heard a Filipino news presenter on a local English-language radio station call the pope "George".
It was an affront to my Argentinian ears because the name Jorge should read "Horhe", the way it is pronounced in all the Latin countries, as well as in the Philippines.
Vandana Marino, Discovery Bay
More will quit if cigarette prices increase
I support those who have called for the Hong Kong government to keep raising the tobacco tax.
I believe that if the price of cigarettes keeps rising, for some people it will simply get too much to bear financially and they will make the decision to quit.
A higher levy will inevitably lead to a drop in the number of smokers and a healthier society in the long run.
Fong Yin-chi, Tseung Kwan O
Safe mainland milk can curb parallel traders
I refer to the letter from Wang Yijiang ("Restricting milk powder sales is bad for businesses", March 12).
Your correspondent claims that having more supplies of milk formula would solve the problem of shortages.
Mainlanders have been taking advantage of Hong Kong's free-trade culture and buying up most of the formula available in parts of the New Territories.
Even if supply was increased and a new tax imposed, as your correspondent suggests, mainlanders with enough money would still be willing to buy these products. For these well-off citizens, higher prices and a levy would not be a problem.
Wang Yijiang also suggested giving subsidies for families with young children in the form of coupons. However, this is a short-term solution.
If the government had continued to allow mainlanders to purchase large supplies of milk powder and transport them over the border in bulk by rail, this would disrupt other passengers.
Travelling in such conditions, surrounded by crates of milk powder tins, is not a comfortable experience. Also, those people buying large quantities of these tins left a lot of refuse in parts of the New Territories.
Parallel trading can be curbed by getting to the root of the problem. Mainlanders don't trust their own country's products, because of the melamine in milk scandal.
The SAR administration should ask the central government to ensure stricter controls over production of milk formula. Mainland citizens would then trust their own products and buy them, reducing demand for parallel traders.
Shelly Chan, Cheung Sha Wan
More rigorous lift inspections are needed
I refer to the report ("Lift inspections to be stepped up", March 5).
I'm sure that most buildings in Hong Kong have lifts and as Hongkongers are using them every day, it is very important that they are safe.
Therefore, the accident on March 2 where a lift in a North Point commercial building "plummeted to the ground when its four cables snapped", and seven people were injured, is very troubling.
Clearly, in some cases, the standard of maintenance is not all that it should be.
I believe the relevant government departments should check that all responsible operators ensure that their regular inspections of lifts under their control are thorough.
The chairman of the General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees said a period of between 90 and 120 minutes is needed for a proper inspection and some workers were asked to check "seven to eight lifts a day", which is too much.
Engineering contractors who are responsible for lift maintenance should not put their staff under excessive pressure by giving them too many lifts to test on a daily basis.
If they are not given enough time to do their job, this will adversely affect the quality of their inspections.
Also, the government must keep a closer watch on those companies with unsatisfactory records. Given the recent accident, owners' corporations in residential buildings should have their contractors undertake a lift inspection as soon as possible.
Gordon Wong, Tsuen Wan
Nuclear plant rethink is a global issue
Two years after a tsunami devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, the survivors are still trying to rebuild their lives.
However, the reconstruction in the communities near the plant has been painfully slow and many people are still living in temporary homes.
Thousands of people recently protested in Tokyo, and elsewhere in Japan, against the continued use of nuclear power in the country.
They want the government to abandon this form of energy.
Given the risk of earthquakes in Japan, the government should listen to opponents of nuclear plants.
The Chernobyl disaster in 1986, in the former Soviet Union, brought home the risks of nuclear power when something goes badly wrong, with many people in the area around the plant having to leave their homes for good.
This is a global issue and all governments and environmental organisations need to closely re-examine nuclear power plant programmes.
Raymond Chan Kwun-hin, Tseung Kwan O