Hong Kong Sevens

Letters to the Editor, March 29, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 5:02am

Department left behind on e-bike benefits

How sad that police chief superintendent Eddie Wong Kwok-wai, of the police public relations branch, should think it a fruitful use of police time to chase otherwise law-abiding citizens who ride electric bicycles ("Police cracking down on illegal bikes, tricycles", March 23).

Let's be clear: the only reason e-bikes are "illegal" in Hong Kong is that the Transport Department has failed to keep up with the rest of the world, and failed in its regulatory duties. Hong Kong has the dubious distinction of being the only jurisdiction in the world that does not allow the use of any type of environmentally friendly e-bikes.

Other jurisdictions - the mainland, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, the US, Canada and Europe - all have recognised the health and environmental benefits of e-bikes and amended regulations to legitimise them. Only Hong Kong hasn't bothered.

Does our government have a unique insight that the rest of the world doesn't have, that battery-powered bicycles are somehow dangerous?

In 2008, I presented a submission to the department on how it could regulate the growing use of e-bikes in Hong Kong. Its response was that it couldn't be bothered.

In my submission, I reported on a test that I had done comparing an e-bike and a standard bicycle. On the flat and downhill, the bicycle is faster than an e-bike. Only uphill is an e-bike very slightly faster.

Given that speed is the main factor in accidents, it's surprising that the Hong Kong police should accept the word of one complainant, L. Charleston ("Call to recycle intelligence on 'danger' bikes", March 16), about their alleged danger. There are no statistics in Hong Kong supporting your correspondent's assertion.

Hong Kong residents should not, as Eddie Wong suggests, phone the police to report "offenders". They should instead ring to complain about a shocking waste of police time. This is use of police resources to harass and prosecute people for trying to be healthier and environmentally aware, and Hong Kong is the only jurisdiction in the world to do so.

If there is a response to this letter, it should be from the Transport Department, not the police. It should explain why it has failed to keep up with the rest of the world. Is it simply its dilatory nature? Or is it indeed a holder of some arcane knowledge about the lack of safety of e-bikes of which the rest of the world is unaware? Do tell, Transport Department.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay


Helping young offenders build a new career

The shortage of skilled and semi-skilled construction workers is now having an impact on the industry in Hong Kong, and the problem will only get worse with more projects in the pipeline.

This shortage has, however, created an opportunity for many, such as those in correctional institutions, to learn the necessary skills, start a new career and lead a more productive life.

On a recent visit I made to youth correctional centres, I saw that prompt and timely training is arranged and given to young offenders in construction skills such as joinery, bricklaying and working with steel. It is expected that after training and certification, they will be able to start a new career and new life upon discharge from the centres.

This is a win-win situation for the community, providing new opportunities for young people, and meeting the demands of the industry to facilitate infrastructure and economic growth.

I would recommend that this kind of training could be extended to other correctional centres, and that employers play their part in helping these young men and women start a new life.

Yau Wing-kwong, JP, Tai Po


TVB showed no respect for its audience

I refer to the letter from Rachel Hodson ("TVB viewers unable to see whole game", March 26).

I, too, as a rugby fan was disappointed with TVB Pearl's arrangement for the Rugby Sevens final on Sunday.

This is a very popular event in Hong Kong, so rugby fans who chose to stay at home and watch the games, as I did, were happy we could view them on a free-to-air channel. Did TVB even consider the feelings of its audience when it suddenly stopped broadcasting?

There was simply no time for us to turn our computer on and locate the website to see the end of the match. Indeed, some viewers might not have had a computer or mobile phone at home.

We were given a warning of less than 30 seconds. I was so caught up in the action that I was shocked to see the warning when they cut off the final with about three minutes left, to go to the evening news.

I doubt if that extra three minutes would really have caused serious problems for the TV station.

Next time TVB broadcasts this kind of mega-event, it should take its audience's feelings into consideration.

Cindy Cho, Tseung Kwan O


Court ruling on helpers defies logic

Because the government has placed rigid restrictions on foreign domestic helpers, that appears to be a sufficient reason for keeping them "in their place".

I do not understand the logic of the Court of Final Appeal ruling on right of abode. The government is basically outsourcing its childcare, elderly care, cleaning services to foreign domestic helpers, therefore it does not have to put more sustainable systems in place to provide these things.

Those who cannot afford a foreign domestic helper are behind the eight-ball as they cannot "move up" due to the fact that they don't have access to a helper.

Personally, I don't think that you should import people to do your menial jobs, even though the workers who come need the money to support their families back home.

Most countries and societies admit people to work if the skills are in limited supply in that country.

So are there not "ordinarily resident" people in Hong Kong who can do these jobs?

I believe the reason many Hongkongers think that the helpers would use up all the city's services [if they got right of abode] is because they, put in the foreign helpers' position, would rush to use all these services as they, deep down, realise the restrictions these people work under are appalling and that they wouldn't do it if they could help it.

If you need such severe restrictions for such workers, don't import them.

Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po


Road repairs only make the surface worse

I find that whenever a road is torn up for repair, the resurfacing leads to it ending up in a worse condition. It is like a patch-up job - uneven and lumpy.

Surely the department responsible for the maintenance of roads must inspect resurfacing work and sign off on it. However, when you drive along Hong Kong's roads and over a newly resurfaced area, it always looks worse than other parts of the road.

A case in point would be Kennedy Road, opposite the petrol station, where the road now is uneven and has potholes filled with water.

This is caused by water running down from Bowen path because of the ongoing waterworks repairs.

This has resulted in a substantial build-up of water at the junction of Kennedy Road and Bowen path. Was this area of road repair ever inspected?

Also going up Bowen Drive to Bowen Road, similar repair work has been done which has left the surface uneven, causing potential danger to walkers and runners who use this road to access the Bowen Road running path.

I would like the relevant government department to tell me, through these columns, if it does sign off on all repair work and if this was done with regard to the work on the portion of Kennedy Road I have described, a portion which I now believe is unsafe.

Stuart Gates, Mid-Levels


CY right to support our elderly people

I welcome the commitments that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has made to help the elderly in Hong Kong, initiatives that were announced in his recent policy address.

Given that Hong Kong is an ageing society, there is a need to provide additional subsidies and more support to our elderly citizens.

The policies outlined by C.Y. will lead to improved welfare and services which will raise their living standards. His measures reflect the need to provide not just economic support, but to ensure the elderly have access to medical services and accommodation.

For example, he plans to increase the number of subsidised residential care places. There are a lot of elderly people living alone and this has become a serious problem in our society.

Those who are frail are less likely to have an accident if they are in one of these care places where they can be looked after.

I also agree with the chief executive about the importance of lifelong learning. It is essential that our old folk should be given the opportunity to learn more and have greater opportunities for recreation.

They can then enjoy a more fulfilling old age.

Jennifer Chiu Lok-yu, Sha Tin