Letters to the Editor, June 16, 2013
Misbehaviour by tourists a lack of control
Liu Simin, a researcher with the Tourism Research Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying "Many Chinese tourists are just going abroad, and are often inexperienced and unfamiliar with overseas rules and norms" ("The trouble with mainland tourists", June 6).
I disagree with such a statement. You do not have to be familiar with another culture in the civilised world to behave correctly.
Also, on the mainland it is not normal to see someone relieving themselves in front of the Great Wall of China, spitting in the Forbidden City, or writing graffiti on one of the Terracotta Warriors.
I travel frequently to the mainland and other Asian countries and can say that even on the mainland that kind of behaviour is really not common. If the new super-rich citizens would show respect for others this kind of behaviour would not occur.
Other tourist groups in a country, say Japanese, American or Korean, may do something that annoys the people of that country or appears to be disrespectful, but they seldom behave in a way that could be characterised as disgusting.
What is happening with some of these tourists from the mainland is extreme misbehaviour and shows a lack of control.
Bob Tan, Tuen Mun
Giant car park will destroy Stanley charm
The government is planning to construct a multi-storey car park at the heart of Stanley to allow visitors to park their cars.
This move is entirely counterproductive and will inevitably destroy the low-density charismatic character of Stanley as well as choking up the entire traffic system there which is already reaching its limit.
More cars in Stanley will slow down the journey there and create a bottleneck at the one-way Stanley Beach Road.
Instead of adding more car parking spaces which will be left empty from Monday to Friday, it would be better for the environment and for Stanley to promote using the already well-established bus lines (No 6, 6X, 260 and minibus 40). The ride is most scenic and you can hop off at Repulse Bay or Deep Water Bay along the way.
The administration must stop and reconsider the right policy for Stanley.
Adding more parking spaces is absolutely the wrong direction and will destroy the attractiveness of our world-class beach and its lovely environment.
Maximilian Chong, Causeway Bay
Irreplaceable heritage must be preserved
Hong Kong is acclaimed for its thriving economy and social development. However, concerns have been rising in this fast-changing metropolis that many important historical buildings are being sacrificed for commercial development.
Apparently, economic development outweighs everything in the eyes of the government. I strongly disagree with this view, and believe we need to take firm steps to prevent further damage and to protect our heritage.
Historical buildings are of paramount importance in helping preserve social history and cultural identity. For example, the Clock Tower, the only remnant of the former Kowloon railway station, has stood as an icon beside Victoria Harbour throughout Hong Kong's transition from an industrial economy to international financial centre.
It is repugnant that the government would ignore the wishes of the public, which generally values the significance of these often handsome buildings that play an invaluable role in recalling our collective past and preserving continuity.
Besides, heritage is a vital part of our tourist industry. Hong Kong is renowned for its colonial era charm. Resorts like Stanley and shopping malls like 1881 Heritage, the former Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, every year attract an array of visitors to learn of our unique culture.
It is everybody's business to preserve heritage sites that bring us infinite joy and recall memories that live in the hearts of Hong Kong people.
The government should strike a balance between commercial development and heritage preservation. For instance, views can be sought from the public before approving any development. Only in this way can social development be wholesome and thrive. If this policy had been adopted during the protests over Queen's Pier we might not have lost it.
Joyce Hung, Tuen Mun
Time to stop ignoring bus fire dangers
The terrible bus fire in Xiamen recently, which caused the deaths of 47 passengers and left many others seriously injured, should provide a wake-up call for local bus companies.
This could so easily happen in Hong Kong. There are actually bus fires in Hong Kong almost every week, but unless people are injured or killed, reports of these incidents seldom make the press.
The Transport Department used to publish the monthly figures for bus fires, but the franchised bus companies complained about this because they did not like the negative publicity.
The cause of a fire, whether deliberately set by an arsonist or due to a technical fault, is irrelevant. Once a fire takes hold, it can spread rapidly. It is absolutely essential that the aisles on buses are not blocked with obstructions such as baby prams, shopping trolleys and suitcases.
If a fire does occur, passengers must have an unobstructed route to all the exits, including the emergency door. It is unfortunate that recently, drivers have become tolerant and too frequently allow bus aisles to be obstructed.
It beggars belief that some of the worst offenders are expatriate pilots and other airline cabin crew (even in uniform) who routinely block bus aisles (on buses between the airport and Tung Chung and Tung Chung-Discovery Bay) because they are too lazy to lift up and put their suitcases onto luggage racks.
If, however, you are a passenger on one of their planes, they will make a tremendous fuss if you leave even a plastic bag on the cabin floor during take-off or landing.
The same principle must apply on buses; passengers must not be permitted to block the aisles and escape routes.
Public bus firms should warn drivers to enforce the rules about this, which also happen to be enforceable by law. It is a driver's legal responsibility to ensure safety on buses.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
Pet phobia fails Gandhi greatness test
Children benefit immensely from positive interaction with animals. Fear and revulsion are learned responses and dogs definitely don't deserve such reactions, yet dog walkers are barred from using beaches, parks and promenades just because some people are averse to sharing personal space with them.
Dog lovers know how delightful it is to own a dog and are thoroughly dismayed by the hostile attitude of people who dislike them.
Those who don't bother to dispose of their dog's dirt and just leave it where it is deposited are thoughtless about the nuisance they are causing, but they are in the minority and it is unfair to classify all owners as being irresponsible.
Society needs to become more animal friendly and compassionate as opposed to fearful and self-centered.
Dog ownership is something to be embraced, not despised. It has been proved animals enhance well-being and it is time to stop banning them from public areas to please those with a phobia against fur.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated". Hong Kong is sadly lacking in empathy with its policy of "no dogs allowed".
Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin
Carnivorous sins reflected in cow's tears
I was saddened to read about the cruel deaths of eight feral cows on South Lantau Road earlier this month, but what touched me most was seeing a picture of tears on a surviving cow in your paper.
If you are a compassionate human being, then certainly the next time you are offered an animal as a meal, you will realise that they also have feelings and want to live.
Does anyone have a right to take another life? If we see a human cry, we feel saddened, but why not a cow? Why not a dog on the mainland? We cannot just keep on overpowering animals in this world because God has given us a far greater mind.
As we take care of our children, we should realise even animals need to be loved and the best we can offer them is an opportunity to live by their free will. They won't harm us as they are perfectly made to survive within their own food chains.
We are all connected by love in this world.
We can't just satisfy our own stomachs forever, or truly we are evil, at least in one sense. Let us be loving human beings. This may be the first step to happiness for some.
Our bodies are made up of what we eat. So, think before you eat, are you happy?
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels