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Letters to the Editor, October 29, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 12:28am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 12:26pm

Disgraceful 'me, me, me' attitude in HK

For the first time in several years, I visited Hong Kong to see family, and I am sorry to say that the city has changed for the worse.

Most marked of all is the attitude of people on the MTR. I saw people pushing in front of others on the escalator queues, perfectly healthy (often young) men and ladies not yielding their seats to elderly citizens or parents (such as myself and my wife) carrying young babies, passengers scrambling for seats in between stations at the expense of others; the list goes on. I can only assume it is because of the influx of people from the mainland, because I have never seen such rude, selfish behaviour on any of my other visits to Hong Kong. It is a disgraceful "me, me, me" attitude.

It was completely different on a visit the week before last to Taipei, where people regularly yielded their seats and there was a genuine attitude of considering others, even down to cell phone use. Unfortunately, coming back was a rude shock; we found three passengers cheekily already in our seats on board the return flight, and at immigration, people trying to push in front of us.

It is unpleasant, and I have never witnessed such behaviour in my home country of Australia. I cannot imagine this happening in comparable world cities such as New York, Singapore or London, and if it did, offenders would be loudly and publicly corrected.

Chris Embery, Adelaide, Australia


Time service widely used by the public

I refer to the letter of Tobias Brown ("Time signal missing from HK airwaves", October 17).

The Hong Kong Observatory, the official timekeeper in Hong Kong, maintains the Hong Kong Standard Time using a Caesium beam atomic clock whose accuracy is constantly checked by exchanging time information with the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), the international keeper of Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC). Time signals provided by the Observatory contribute to BIPM's determination of UTC.

Our time service has been widely used by the public, with around eight billion time checks in the first three quarters of 2013 (effectively almost 30 million time checks per day) through the six-pip time signals broadcast by Radio Television Hong Kong, the Observatory's dial-a-weather system, web clock and network time server, as well as the time displayed on TV screens.

While the RTHK six-pip time signals have been well-known to the public for almost half a century, with the advent of internet services in recent decades our time service is now able to reach computers at home or in the office, and people on the move through their mobile phones.

The majority of the enormous number of time checks to the Observatory's atomic clock nowadays are done through the internet. More details on the time service provided by the Hong Kong Observatory can be found online http://www.weather.gov.hk/gts/time/hk_time_services.htm

For those who would like to receive the time signal through conventional radio transmissions, we understand that the 68.5 kHz China Standard Time signal (both mainland and Hong Kong are in the same time zone) is broadcast by the radio transmitter station of the National Time Service Centre (NTSC) in Shangqiu, Henan .

From information on the internet issued by the centre, its time signal can cover an area of 3,000 kilometres in radius http://www.xab.cas.cn/kycg/201204/t20120418_3558247.html The webpage is in Chinese only. Hong Kong lies comfortably within this radius.

Rest assured that the Observatory is committed to providing quality services and will make sure that resources are well spent in further improving its services for the public.

H. Y. Mok, for director of the Hong Kong Observatory


It is important to strengthen families

I share Paul Yip's view that the development of comprehensive family policy can lead to stronger and healthier families and communities, and I especially welcome his advocacy from a social work standpoint ("Fertile ground", October 23).

The situation in Hong Kong that Yip describes is not dissimilar from that in the United States, or other parts of the world for that matter.

The well-being of individuals, families, and communities is closely tied to the environmental context, within which family policy is a core ingredient.

In our experience at the Institute for Families, facilitation of buy-in amongst a variety of sectors - business, education, housing, public health, and so forth - is key to advocating for effective policy and achieving large-scale community change.

Schools of social work in Hong Kong and abroad should lead such efforts to strengthen families and communities.

I am pleased to see Yip's call to action and encourage other social work institutions to join in this effort.

Andy Germak, executive director, Institute for Families, Rutgers University school of social work, New Jersey, United States


A pity students will not take buses to school

I refer to the letter by Paul Stables ("Braemar Hill gridlock delays thousands", October 15).

I have much sympathy with the points he makes, but the issue is more complex. In our society, those who earn more are able to spend more.

For many, increase in income is invested in greater comfort and convenience.

Having purchased a car, we are then allowed to drive it where we please, or almost so. But we are not allowed to leave it where we please, and so with more wealth we hire drivers to keep the wretched things cruising round.

Of course, we use it to ferry our children to school, and their siblings to the kindergarten next door. And accompanying them may be seen the maid, nursemaid or porter.

As they hop out, the chauffeur keeps the vehicle moving and does a quick circuit of an adjacent road, or better still does a U-turn in place, before collecting the staff and departing.

Of course, it would be so sensible if everyone used the many extra comfortable and affordable school bus services which Citybus and New World First Bus operate up Braemar Hill. However, our government has shown little stomach for discouraging car use.

We have few pedestrianised precincts, we permit double parking, idling engines and, provided you have the money, unrestricted access to the limited road space.

Graeme Price, North Point


Education needed on recycling

Ann Wong ("Recycling could use a bit of education", October 17) has doubts about the effectiveness of the proposed waste charge in Hong Kong.

I think it could help to reduce the volumes of waste generated in Hong Kong.

It is similar to the plastic bag levy, which has had satisfactory results with a significant drop in the number of plastic bags that are used.

I am sure the waste charge, once implemented, can be equally effective.

However, I also agree that it is important to have education over recycling.

It is not just about knowing about which bin you should put material into, but also about, for example, the kinds of plastic bottles that can be recycled and what you should do before depositing them in the recycling bin.

The government needs to provide more information to the public, as many people are unfamiliar with recycling. Schools should also deal with it in civic education lessons.

Although some people, like your correspondent, may think the waste levy policy will not be effective, it will, like recycling, help to reduce the amount of waste that is generated in Hong Kong. It is about having different policies and co-ordinating them to make them more effective.

Annie Suen, Tsuen Wan


People want flats near workplaces

I disagree with Jeff Chan's letter ("Long-term view needed on housing", October 17).

He says housing problems are being exacerbated because people are ignoring available and cheaper homes in rural areas.

There is no doubt that there are cheaper flats in these rural parts of Hong Kong. However, many of them are some distance from the urban areas where most people work.

Many people find it difficult to own their own apartments.

To solve this problem, more apartments must be constructed and price levels must drop.

The priority for people is to have accommodation that is reasonably near where they work rather than getting a cheaper apartment in a remote rural area such as Yuen Long or Tin Shui Wai.

The government has to take appropriate action and meet the needs of residents, if it wants to avoid greater social unrest. Also, it needs to take initiatives now. I appreciate that a long-term housing policy has to be drafted to bring about the necessary improvements in society. But people cannot wait for such long-term measures to bear fruit.

Officials need to take some action now if they want to avoid disrupting the harmony in our society.

Ben Chun Ka-wai, Sha Tin



This article is now closed to comments

Regrettably, Ms. Annie Suen is 100% WRONG when she says the plastic bag levy has reduced the use of plastic bags. It is a DOCUMENTED FACT that plastic bag usage has increased since the plastic bag levy was imposed (see past reports ad nauseum from the Plastic Bag Manufacturing Association). The levy has actually made the landfill problem WORSE. But that's no deterrent to the green lobby when it comes to imposing their extremist views and policies on other people.
That's why we shouldn't listen to the oh-so-precious enviro fascists who have no idea what they're talking about. They are motivated by a peculiar self-obsessed desire to feel better about themselves by telling other people how to live their lives. They are pathetic and it would be funny if it wasn't so intrusive.
You should consider yourself lucky. We Hong Kongers resent everybody. Being Australian and white, you're lucky because Aussies are on our least disliked list. Mainlanders are the most despised. I had a suitcase at Times Square cab stand on my way to the airport. Two drivers refused to take me because they thought I was from mainland. The third driver took me only when I told him I wanted to go to the airport train terminal at Central.
Young people always elbow this geezer aside to deny him a seat at the Metro. A beautiful young lady with her mother from Shandong gracefully offered me her seat in the train. Many young people in Shenzhen and Guangzhou do likewise. But these are people that we hate with passion.
I asked for directions in Wanchai from two young people in my impeccable Cantonese. No dice. They looked past me as if I were a pest or panhandler.
This is my Hong Kong. Warts and all, I still love it.
Better luck next time Chris, there are many nice people here. Just make sure they are not those who talk a good line about democracy, human rights and Hong Kong core values. I assume by now you know what HK core values mean.
I have family in Melbourne; wonderful town and beautiful people. I love my oysters on half shell by the Rocks at Sidney while admiring your beautiful harbor, opera house and downing a Foster beer.
Sorry I can't get all worked up about your beautiful country. Hong Kong is still my home and city of my dreams.
i think your experiences described above are most likely because you look the pompous pr-ck that you sound like in your comments... nothing to do with hong kong people... f-cker
@wwong888....Wow...name calling and co**** language....I guess you just reinforced his point ! Maybe the truth hurts and mainlanders can't handle the truth...go and google "Mainland Chinese " (With a space) and before you finish the phrase, it says "rude" at the end of it as the first option. I wonder why it is the most popular search term ?
I don't see anywhere where the author criticised native HKGers...in fact, talk to native HKGers and many say the same. Notice the contrast with Taiwanese - very polite people. Says something.
Perhaps it is because there is some truth in what the author says and thus some room for improvement ? People like wwong888 just proved it !
Why not prove the author wrong on his next visit to HKG and show him how great and polite HKGers CAN be ?
Why does the SCMP publish such whinging as that seen here from C Embery. Perhaps this C Embery should just not come back. After all who wants to welcome someone who in a single letter has insulted all Hong Kong people, and all people from the mainland and has taken the opportunity of lauding 'his/her' home country at the expense of others. Embery's 'me me me' attitude of the world having to fit into his/her ideals is plain selfish.
@Bmr, watch www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQfoxz6-qng - take a look at that and you see where he is coming from. I think that he has a valid point, and nowhere in that letter did he insult all HKGers as you claim....re-read his letter.
For someone who seems to live in Sydney, you don't come across as liking your new (adopted) home country too much either ?! Therefore, I am not sure why you talk as though you are still living in HKG, telling them not to come back - that's pretty rude yourself, and especially calling people fools !
You just added more evidence for his argument with your rude comment.
I am from Oatley, District of St Georges in Sydney you fool. Emery is simply seeking to push Australia up and China and Hong Kong down. Whoever he or she is they should stay away. My comment was not rude anyway. It was to the point. Australians used to be known for straight talking. If Emery can't deal with it then he should return to the more genteel old Adelaide.
I think that the writer Embery might have found that speaking the truth gets some people offside (!) and is unpopular with many Chinese...he clearly stated that things had changed since his last visit, so he wasn't being rude about ALL Hong Kongers...people should re-read his letter.
Clearly, there is some fact in his letter because it has caused such a divide, and I can't see how expecting people to have common courtesy to give seats to elderly people or young parents, or to have the airline seat (that was rightfully theirs and paid for), or to have people form an orderly queue for escalators and immigration is "pompous" or a "me me me" attitude. I see that some people just reinforced his point, referring to name calling and rude language.
He also said "other world cities", not just comparing Hong Kong to Australia, so I think that "pushing Hong Kong down" is a bit far-fetched....especially since you don't even know if he is a Western person or a Australian-born Chinese ?!
Australians tend to "tell it like they see it"; maybe Mainlanders don't like seeing how others see them on the world stage ?


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