Letters to the Editor, February 25, 2014
Police are not enforcing existing laws
There seems little point in enacting new laws ("Time to get smart on driving phone law", February 20) when the existing law, like so many others, is not enforced.
One does not have to travel very far before seeing a driver blatantly making or receiving a call on a hand-held phone - unless one is a policeman, it seems.
What is urgently required is a change in the mindset of the police. When they are instructed to target a particular offence at a specified time and location they typically do it efficiently, courteously and professionally. But in other circumstances the same offence will, apparently, go unnoticed.
A substantial number of drivers fail to switch their headlights on as it begins to get dark; even more switch on only sidelights. Many drivers fail to signal their intentions, or do so too late. On most weekends there are cars parked on the pavement along Tai Mong Tsai Road, while their owners enjoy barbecues, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road - a particular hazard for the elderly and those with young children.
All these offences are witnessed by the many police patrols that are present on Hong Kong's roads, yet action rarely results. It is the duty of the police to enforce the law, particularly where an offence produces a clear and identifiable hazard. Even in cases where prosecution is considered inappropriate or impractical, for most drivers the inconvenience of being stopped and asked to produce documents will be a deterrent.
For more serious and repeat offenders a compulsory driving improvement course could be offered as an alternative to prosecution. The police have the power to make it very inconvenient for a motorist to commit an offence; they should use that power more.
If and when they are seen to enforce existing laws new legislation will be more effective.
Peter Robertson, Sai Kung
Backing free entry to sports facilities in HK
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah should look into waiving all fees for the rental of sports facilities to promote sports and health for the people of Hong Kong in tomorrow's budget.
There is already a lack of free public space for families to bring their children to run, and this in itself is a deterrent to consider having any children in young families. The total revenue from rentals must be a pittance compared to handouts or relief measures, but the impact and benefits to the health of the residents in the city, especially working-class families, in granting free use of sports facilities, such as swimming pools and badminton and tennis courts, will create a healthier society. It will also encourage a healthier lifestyle and give the younger generation a chance to excel in sports. At present many are not involved in sports.
The government should be bold and think outside the box and not just be blinkered by just tampering with the usual waiver of rates, subsidised electricity bills or adjusting profit tax, when actual benefits to society can be achieved by simply making all sports facilities freely available to the public. This is really helping the working class who do not live in residential complexes with lush recreation clubs.
The staff who are employed to manage such facilities should then be trained to prevent any abuse in the usage and prevent any person from profiteering in such free use.
L. B. Saw, Ma On Shan
Citizens and officials can cut pollution
I am concerned about the air pollution problems that exist in Beijing.
The concentrations of suspended particles in the air that are harmful to people's health sometimes reach dangerous levels in the capital. Apart from the health issue, the bad air can adversely affect commercial activities. The government and citizens can play their part in improving the air.
Legislation is needed to control pollutants emitted by factories.
Also, plants should be encouraged by officials to use cleaner fuel. Smaller factories could be helped in making this transition to become less polluting through subsidies.
Another serious problem in Beijing is the heavy road traffic. Again, the government has an important role to play and should try to get drivers to switch to vehicles that are more environmentally friendly and emit less carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
Beijing citizens should seek to change their lifestyles. For example, they can try to use public transport more frequently instead of driving a car.
This will help to reduce their carbon footprint.
At home they can use more environmentally friendly electrical appliances. This can also reduce their electricity bills.
We all have a responsibility to protect the earth and this applies to residents of Beijing.
I believe conditions will improve if they all try to play their part and create a greener environment.
Vicky Lui Wai-ki, Kowloon Tong
Talk more with visitors from mainland
I refer to the letter by Icarus Chan ("Officials must react to impact of mainlanders", February 17).
Some mainland visitors to Hong Kong are discriminated against by Hongkongers, because of their behaviour that can be considered unacceptable. They come from a different living environment and also have a different education system.
Although we are only separated by a border, we do not share the same culture, nor are our attitudes similar.
However, I think Hong Kong citizens need to try harder to get on with mainland tourists.
They come to the city to shop and purchase flats and some eventually stay here and join the labour market. Through their spending they are helping to boost the economy.
Also students come from north of the border and study at our universities, paying fees. Those who are academically talented, can later on work in the city and help it prosper.
All of these people are spending money that Hong Kong needs. The fact is that we cannot do without them.
I think we have to accept that we need mainland visitors and those who get visas to come and live here. We should accept them and try harder to integrate with them.
Relations between the two groups can improve with greater communication.
A lot of problems can be solved when two sides sit down and talk things through.
After all, we should not forget that we are from the same country.
Kammy Cheung Wai-shan,Tseung Kwan O
Vulnerable groups in society suffer
We recognise the dark side within a society, such as the sex trade.
This trade has been thriving in Dongguan. It was the industrial hub of the Pearl River Delta, but exports began to drop and some people turned to working in this trade. It has generated millions of dollars on the mainland. Also, it has provided much-needed funds for often vulnerable girls.
Although it is an immoral industry, the crackdown on this trade in Dongguan by the authorities has generated some strong criticisms from members of the public.
People have felt that with their heavy-handed approach the authorities in Guangdong were targeting those people who work in the industry at the lowest rungs. These women have been identified while pimps enjoy anonymity.
This action has been seen as harassment and intimidation. The poorly paid sex workers suffer, but the powerful people who control the trade are not targeted.
Hongkongers can learn from this and see that vulnerable groups in society are often victimised. This is often the case with new migrants from the mainland who are often discriminated against because they are not fluent in Cantonese. All they want is to come to Hong Kong to be reunited with their spouses and children.
We should try and remember the importance of tolerance to ensure a harmonious society.
Gabriella Cheng, Sha Tin
Sculpture from tusks the best solution
No one in his right mind would consider releasing stockpiles of illegal ivory to the trade for carving ornaments and making chopsticks, but I agree with Brendan Moyle and Dan Stiles ("Destroying ivory may make illegal trade more lucrative", February 4). Destroying it will not in any way stop elephant poaching.
Only determined action against poachers and traffickers in Africa and Asia, barring official sales channels, and cutting demand will achieve that. Chinese demand, driven by nouveau riche attitudes, is the main culprit, now that the Japanese have become more enlightened and their use of ivory has been radically reduced. I refer to the report ("6.5 tonnes of ivory used to test how to destroy it", February 14) and it appears to be vandalism to destroy this most wonderful natural material.
Could not a world-renowned sculptor be commissioned to use these many tusks in their entirety to create a large artwork to express sympathy for these thousands of slaughtered elephants?
Such a tribute to these wonderful animals could be placed within the West Kowloon Cultural District, where it could influence Chinese attitudes.
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai