Letters to the Editor, October 26, 2013
Lantau road safety inaction disappointing
South Lantau and its traffic conditions have been much discussed in the past few months, mainly due to a series of accidents.
Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS) is deeply disappointed by the lacklustre response of the Transport Department and police to the road hazards on the island, although the police have increased their day-to-day surveillance.
It is not only the feral cattle and buffalo population that needs greater protection against wayward drivers, but all residents who travel along South Lantau Road, whether by car, in a taxi, or on a bus.
Poor driving practices, including tailgating, lack of indication, misuse of roundabouts and zebra crossings, continue unchecked. A complete indifference to road safety rules seems to prevail and speeding is rampant.
We do need cameras at the entrances and exits of all villages as well as known high-speed black spots, a lowering of the speed limit in certain areas and speed calming measures, although not necessarily speed bumps, which the department claims will cause discomfort to drivers and damage vehicles.
All these suggestions, and more, have been put to the department and the police by concern groups on the island, but to no avail. Our bureaucrats are apparently deaf to the entreaties of those of us who live in South Lantau and use its increasingly dangerous roads.
We would like to see positive action now to control the traffic and enhance road safety conditions to the benefit of all.
Jacqui Green, PALS
Foggy vision of smog-choked future for HK
I am concerned by reports this week on serious pollution levels in Harbin , forcing the cancellation of flights at the city's international airport because of dense smog.
With flights cancelled, roads closed and schools shut down, Harbin sounded more like a prison than a bustling city.
This pollution problem needs to be solved, so that residents' health is not put at risk and children can get on with their education. If it continues, then thousands of people will die every year as a direct consequence in all the mainland's heavily polluted cities.
The government needs to take immediate action to reduce the levels of pollution from traffic and factories, but will it? And how long will it be before Hong Kong suffers equally serious pollution, with visibility below 10 metres?
We pollute this city every day - with coal-fired power stations; fossil fuel-burning cars, buses and trucks; shops with hundreds of electric lights on all day and night, and air conditioners blasting through open doorways all year. We also generate tonnes of waste every day, and dust from building sites created by knocking down skyscrapers every 20 years.
The government should make electric cars, buses, taxis and trucks compulsory and reward households that recycle with payments or reductions in utility bills. It should establish a rule that air conditioners operate no lower than 5 degrees Celsius below the outside temperature.
Most of all, through the media, it must get the message across to people about the need to fight pollution.
It will only get worse until actions replace words.
Zifi Tung, Causeway Bay
Council wants best 3G deal for consumers
I refer to the report ("Warning of disruption to mobile users over expansion of 3G telecom market", October 13).
Since there were a couple of points not reflecting the Consumer Council's views precisely, I would like to clarify them.
Your subhead said, "Consumer chief raises fears over idea to expand city's 3G market, saying that splitting services to allow in another operator could be detrimental" and also that I "questioned the idea that more competition would be a good thing". This does not reflect the council's views on the matter.
As always, the Consumer Council bears the mission of safeguarding consumer interests and, regarding the 3G spectrum reassignment, it has been monitoring the situation closely and taking the potential degradation of service as a top concern in view of the number of consumers affected if it occurs.
However, as stated in its written reply on October 2, the council would like to reiterate that the precise impact is highly governed by a broad range of factors such as loading at different times in the day, nature of usage and customer base.
Therefore, in view of the disparate assessment outcomes from both Ofca and the operators, the council has contacted both parties for the purpose of seeking a more in-depth understanding of their positions, so as to better gauge the likely impact before commenting fully.
Referring to the point of competition, the Consumer Council has long advocated greater competition in the market for the benefit of consumers, holding the belief that competition helps to bring prices down, improve service quality and spur innovation.
Another important point to make is that, should there be any degradation of services during the auction and the transition period (no matter to what extent), it is the position of the council that all parties concerned, including Ofca and the operators, should act in concert to minimise the negative impact upon consumers.
Therefore, it would be desirable to see more discussion devoted to exploring possible mitigating measures for the potential service degradation.
The council will continue to monitor the situation closely and offer timely advice to consumers as appropriate over the matter.
Gilly Wong, chief executive, Consumer Council
Let children have time to be children
I refer to the report, ("Youngsters need more time to play, UN says" October 14).
I agree with the Committee on the Rights of the Child that children in Hong Kong need to be allowed more free time.
They are under a lot of pressure. They have to work long hours at school.
Also, after the school day ends, they have to do homework and prepare for tests. Many young people also have extracurricular activities which can eat into their free time.
This leaves them with only a short time to relax and interact with their friends.
This is not fair because I believe that things have actually got worse and their parents had more time to play when they were children.
Without sufficient time to rest, young people will feel stressed and this makes it more difficult for them to concentrate on their studies, because they are worn out.
This problem is exacerbated if they have not had a sufficient amount of sleep.
The committee from the United Nations is absolutely right when it says that our children must be given more free time.
Gerald Xu, Repulse Bay
Disqualifying plagiarisers fully justified
I think it was wise for the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) to invalidate the scores of those students who had plagiarised for their school-based assessment.
I realise this is a heavy punishment for them, but it serves as a warning to other students not to do the same thing.
These projects go towards the overall exam marks and form part of the Diploma of Secondary Education results. If youngsters are allowed to plagiarise, these projects become meaningless.
If the HKEAA had only cancelled the score for the school-based assessments, young people might think this was not a heavy punishment and that there was no real need for their work to be original.
Some may think the punishment is too heavy, but ensuring the honesty of students is of paramount importance.
Lydia Leung, Ma On Sha
Now let China end high visa levy on Brits
I am heartened to see the UK relaxing its visa rules for Chinese visitors. Just one EU visa will suffice instead of having to get a separate visa for Britain.
I am now hoping that after the tit-for-tat saga in which China levied its ridiculous visa fee on us Brits living and paying taxes in Hong Kong (me, since 1991), that common sense may now prevail and a sensible levy will be imposed as with other countries, facilitating us to visit the mainland and contribute further to its economy.
I sincerely hope someone can follow up on this for the thousands of British Hong Kong permanent residents.
Rob Henderson, Kowloon Tong
Anger remains over HKTV licence snub
I believe having more free-to-air television licences will improve the quality of local television programming.
I wonder how much time viewers spend of an evening watching a sitcom or drama on one of our local terrestrial channels. I generally don't watch for more than an hour.
The endings are predictable and plots lack originality.
People had high hopes of better quality material with the new licences, especially with Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV). There was a feeling he could revolutionise local TV programmes. So many of us were left disappointed by the decision not to grant it a licence.
People who are angry about this will not be satisfied unless the government changes its mind.
Tang Wing-yiu, Sha Tin