Letters to the Editor, October 29, 2013
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