Letters to the Editor, March 2, 2014

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 3:42am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 3:42am

Flexibility over work will solve travel crowds

Overcrowding on the MTR is one of many issues in Hong Kong that could be solved immediately, were it not for a lack of common sense shown by the government and the private sector ("MTR urged to review capacity measures to ease train overcrowding", February 26).

With few exceptions these days - perhaps at hospitals, schools, emergency services, shift workers - people do not need to work rigid, fixed hours.

For the vast majority of office staff, and most government workers not having to meet the public, it simply does not matter whether they work from 9am to 6pm, 10am to 7pm or 11am to 8pm.

When everyone needs to leave at the same time, it is hardly surprising the MTR and buses are full at rush hour.

Yet by staggering working hours, the overcrowding problem could be solved tomorrow.

Less congestion on public transport would also mean fewer people having to drive, so there would be fewer cars on the roads and better air quality.

Why are we expecting the MTR to do the impossible, when, with a little imagination, we could solve the problem tomorrow simply by ourselves?

Lee Faulkner, Kennedy Town


Back-to-front travellers can ease squeeze

A simple yet effective way for trains to carry more people is to educate and/or encourage passengers to take off their backpacks ("MTR urged to review capacity measures to ease train crowding", February 26).

People are more willing to stand back to back rather than face to face. So common sense dictates that, if the thousands of students/commuters on the MTR wore their rucksacks in front, or put them on the floor by their feet, it would allow more passengers to travel - and the "sardines effect" would be greatly reduced.

I certainly don't think reducing the number of seats is the best solution, especially as it is still common to see able-bodied passengers sitting in clearly marked priority seats - heads down like emus in the sand - while elderly or pregnant women are left standing.

When my wife was visibly pregnant, it was still rare for someone to offer her their seat. This still remains the case if and when our son is carried in our arms.

What is worse, it's usually women who are more likely than men to give up their seats to others in Hong Kong!

Carriages with entire rows of seats removed to create priority areas for wheelchairs/strollers are counter-productive; too often they get filled with many passengers on foot, who are unwilling to move.

Before the MTR spends more money to change seating arrangements, perhaps first it should consider helping passengers to travel more appropriately and considerately?

David Tang, Tseung Kwan O


Incinerators are healthier than landfills

Building incinerators in Hong Kong will certainly help to solve the city's landfill problem.

Hong Kong now has three active landfill sites, but they are likely to be full in a few years.

Using incinerators can greatly reduce the volume of waste that is sent to landfill sites.

Incinerators also help to ease the problem of land pollution, caused by the release of toxic substances when rubbish is decomposing.

Rubbish left after incineration, which is then sent on to landfill sites, gives off fewer toxic substances, and so creates less land pollution.

Some people may feel disgusted by the thought of incinerators and the pollution they cause. But incinerators provide benefits, too, including generating sufficient heat to cater to local swimming facilities.

Joyce Yeung, Ma On Shan


Time to set fire to rubbish problems

Legislators refused to back new moves to fund an incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau, and want more done to encourage people to cut down on what we throw away. ("Burning issue gets a cool response", February 25).

Each year, rubbish levels in Hong Kong rise and overwhelm our landfill sites. Yet throwing rubbish into landfills creates various environmental problems; soil and water in and around sites will become polluted by rubbish.

Fewer air pollutants will be released if we use incineration to dispose of the city's rubbish.

Scrubbers - air-pollution control devices - can be installed, too, to further remove gases and harmful particles.

Incineration is also a faster, more efficient way of disposing of rubbish. Refuse does not always decompose easily or fast when buried in the ground.

Efficiency should be our main concern when dealing with the city's social issues, so why did legislators refuse to back using incinerators?

Some of them think the government should do more to educate the public to cut down on waste. But this idea will take time before it makes any difference - time we don't have; it's more urgent we throw away what we're creating - now!

Chan Tak-yung, Ma On Shan


Government must recognise problem exists

I understand the anger of the protesters during the march against mainland tourists in Canton Road, on Sunday, February 16. However, I do not agree with their extreme behaviour.

But, abuse aside, the call by some protesters for an arrival tax to curb mainland visitors is shared by other citizens and some political parties. That is certainly not an extreme view.

People want this charge introduced, because they have been affected by the actions of some mainlanders. For example, parallel goods traders taking lots of milk powder over the border resulted in a shortage of formula here. This was a particular problem for residents in North District.

There have also been complaints of mainland visitors being ill-mannered and jumping queues. And then there was the controversy over competition for kindergarten places.

However, as I said, taking extreme actions, as we saw on February 16, is not the answer. The individual visit scheme was introduced after the Sars crisis in 2003 and helped to boost Hong Kong, which was going through an economic crisis.

Also, it is silly to tar everyone with the same brush. Many tourists from north of the border are very well-behaved. Also, terms like "robbery" are inappropriate. When they buy milk powder they are paying with their own money.

The government must recognise there is a problem and deal with it.

Cecilia Mok Sze-lam,Kowloon Tong


Critical thinking better than abuse

We are taught to use critical thinking at school, so it is obvious that shouting bad words in order to insult mainland visitors is not what protesters should do.

On a visit to Tokyo two years ago, I remember Japanese resentment towards Koreans. I was totally shocked to hear them calling them "roaches".

A peaceful rally can help to highlight valid concerns about issues such as mainland visitors, and encourage government action.

However, some of the behaviour of protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui was irrational and has only tarnished Hong Kong's image.

Yuki Tsang, Lai Chi Kok