Letters to the Editor, May 24, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 5:22am

Driving in rain without lights breaks the law

On Wednesday, despite the black rainstorm warning, many drivers, including bus, minibus and taxi drivers, were driving without lights.

Many more were driving with only parking lights, so called because that is all they are intended for.

All I can do is write letters to these columns. The police, the Transport Department, bus company executives, drivers' associations and all employers of drivers could, and should, do much more to insist that drivers switch on their dipped headlights, as the law requires, as soon as the light begins to fade in the late afternoon or evening.

They should also be used when it is gloomy or overcast, when entering a tunnel, when entering a covered or partially covered car park, when it is misty or foggy, and when it is raining. Even in relatively moderate rain, vehicles with headlights on are seen significantly sooner than those without. In mist, fog and heavy rain, both front and rear fog lights, if fitted, should be used.

Drivers should be reminded, or told, that the function of dipped headlights is not simply to allow the driver to see, but also to allow other drivers and pedestrians to see his or her vehicle in good time. Seeing oncoming vehicles late is a significant factor in many accidents, and one that could be eliminated with a little more attention to detail from drivers.

There are three simple rules for those who are not sure when to use dipped headlights: first, find out; second, if you see other drivers with their headlights on, ask yourself, "why?"; third, if in doubt, switch them on.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung


Road pricing can alleviate gridlock, smog

I think it is time for the government to consider implementing electronic road pricing as the registered car fleet grew 4.8 per cent last year.

This was also the third consecutive year that the annual rate was more than 4 per cent. In order to relieve air pollution and traffic congestion, electronic road pricing should be supported.

Road charging can be an economic disincentive discouraging car use. Citizens are more likely to take public transport instead of owning private cars.

Consequently roadside pollution levels might drop and traffic congestion caused by these vehicles would decrease.

The government could use the electronic road pricing system adopted in Singapore as a reference. It manages traffic on roads linked to the city's central business district and along some expressways. Therefore, this system could be implemented primarily to solve traffic congestion problems in Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay areas.

Also, it could contribute an additional and steady source of revenue to the government which could be used for road building.

Some car owners and vested interests would oppose electronic road pricing, but they should also think about the adverse effects of redundant private vehicles, such as worsening levels of air pollution and congestion.

With our efficient public transport network, such as the MTR and buses, there is no need for people to drive in the central business district.

Given the needless increase in the number of cars it is time for the government to give serious thought to a road pricing system.

Lewis Yeung, Tseung Kwan O


'Inflexible' toll keepers not for turning

I was driving on Route 9 from Tuen Mun to Yuen Long in the downpour at 2am on Wednesday when the rain was so heavy that visibility was poor.

I mistakenly got onto Route 3 and could not turn until I reached Tai Lam Tunnel toll plaza. I explained my predicament to an attendant and asked for a place to make a U-turn. I was told to go to the administration office to pay HK$36 although I would not have to use the tunnel. It was a short walk from the parking area.

After getting completely soaked in the heavy rain, I was guided back to a path to turn back to Yuen Long. They could have shown me this way in the first place to save all the trouble to me and the two service persons. Why this tunnel company was allowed to charge for a service not rendered is beyond reason, and the total lack of flexibility given the circumstances was unacceptable.

Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long


Let children learn to enjoy education

I could not agree more with Angus Chan Chung-sing's letter ("How to make English more enjoyable", May 16).

I have witnessed how the enjoyment of learning English is damaged in Hong Kong's education system.

Dictations, quizzes and tests are a normal routine in any local school.

Parents and children do not need much time to adapt to this kind of lifestyle.

However, I am deeply puzzled by the way of teaching English in my daughter's school, which is one of those labelled as an "elite girls' school".

It is highly regarded in the community for its standard of English language education.

Children are required to study a few English readers in the year and they are tested on these readers.

To ensure that they can provide answers with the exact wording, the pupils are required to recite and memorise selected paragraphs in the reader. No parents can afford to challenge this practice of studying English. No one can afford for their children to record low scores.

I have heard that some parents (verging on paranoia) even demand that their girls memorise the whole reader so that they won't miss any questions in the test. How can children find any enjoyment in reading if they have to do that?

I would not complain if the material being studied was a classic poem or another work of literature that can contribute to children's understanding and appreciation of the English language. This is how I used to study Chinese literature, reciting classic Chinese poems. However, I do not see any value in memorising insignificant bits and pieces taken from the reader which are often forgotten right after the test is finished.

If the school really wants students to have a good grasp of English, it should require them to read different kinds of literature to widen their exposure to English rather than wasting time memorising materials simply for the purpose of getting higher scores.

I will never forget what the school principal told parents during a Primary One orientation meeting three years ago, that we should not think about "happy learning" otherwise our daughters would struggle to get into a good secondary school.

Is this because of the system or the mentality of those with authority? Is this what our government and parents want for our children's education?

S. Chiu, Sha Tin


Jolie's surgery choice sets good example

I refer to the report ("Jolie praised by cancer campaigners", May 16).

In recent years there has been a marked increase in discussion about breast cancer given the fact that it affects so many women.

Actress Angelina Jolie put the disease in the spotlight with the announcement that she had decided to have a double mastectomy.

It was a major news story worldwide. I admire Jolie for the courage she has shown.

Film stars, singers and other celebrities are renowned for their looks and their beautiful figures. But Jolie decided this was less important than her health.

Having lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 56, Jolie chose surgery partly for her children's sake.

She may not be the first woman to take this step, but I still praise her for her determination and her courage to talk about it in public.

She is showing the love and sacrifice of a mother.

She chose the surgery because of her family, so that she can live longer and spend more time with them. This is not an example of a celebrity doing something for selfish reasons. On the contrary, as I said, she is doing it for her family.

I think her story will raise awareness about breast cancer and I hope it will encourage more women to have check-ups. I hope it will also encourage those who are already suffering from cancer to keep fighting.

Wendy Cheung Wing, Tung Chung


Now TV offer just an action replay on fees?

Now TV has just sent me a letter with the headline, "Exhilarating upgrade offer".

It says, "As a token of our gratitude, we are delighted to offer you an upgrade to watch all 380 matches of Barclays Premier League 2013/14 in HD starting from August for an additional HK$100 (24 months subscription) per month."

I am confused. Four years ago I upgraded my account to watch the Barclays Premier League.

I am still paying for the same channels.

No discount was applied after the single year that they showed it.

Now, I am expected to upgrade again for something I already upgraded to four years ago?

Am I right in understanding, that they are so grateful, they want me to pay again for something I already paid for four years ago?

When the football eventually returns to Cable TV, as it inevitably will, will they apply a discount or do what they did last time and simply remind me I agreed to a multiple-year contract and leave me paying for something they no longer offer?

Phil Ingram, Wan Chai