Letters to the Editor, March 4, 2014
Removing seats from MTR bad idea
There is now greater public awareness of the overcrowding problem in MTR carriages.
It has been proposed that this problem could be alleviated by removing seats in trains.
I believe this would be an irrational measure to implement. There is no doubt that it would mean more passengers could get on. However, we have to consider the rights of MTR passengers. All forms of public transport should be providing a convenient travelling experience to people. A carriage with no seats runs counter to this fundamental principle.
Removing the seats altogether would be very inconvenient for the elderly and pregnant women. If the capacity of trains cannot satisfy the influx of passengers, the MTR Corporation has to try and come up with other more effective measures, such as increasing the number of compartments or the number of trips of scheduled trains. It is unethical to exploit the rights of passengers.
In the meantime, we should look at the cause of this overcrowding problem. The greater frequency of system failures on the MTR has partially contributed to the emergence of this issue.
If the government backed the removal of seats, this would not be the right way to tackle the problem. Removing only some of the seats would not allow enough space for that many additional passengers and it would be ridiculous to get rid of all of them.
If this measure was implemented, but proved not to be effective, what would be the next proposal - removing all handrails from trains?
We could end up with a vicious cycle and ineffective measures that do not offer a long-term solution.
The MTR Corp should consider improving the quality of its services first, to minimise the breakdowns of trains. Overcrowding can occur when there are delays in services.
Perhaps more money needs to be spent renewing facilities that are worn or outdated. If there are failures in the system, the removal of seats offers no solution.
Darren Tang, Tai Po
Impractical plan for sports venues
I refer to the letter by L. B. Saw ("Backing free entry to sports facilities in HK", February 25).
What he suggested may seem beneficial to locals, however, I do not think it is feasible. Government-run sports facilities are already heavily subsidised, but some money has to be coming in to go towards maintenance.
If there were no charges, while more people might use these facilities, the government would face a heavy financial burden. Also, people might take these places for granted if they were free of charge and might not even turn up even though they had a booking.
I do not think this will encourage people to get involved in sport. However, people from low-income families could be offered subsidies so they can use the facilities. There also has to be better promotion of sport all year round.
Lam Suet-yi, Fanling
Free press fundamental part of society
The savage attack on veteran journalist Kevin Lau Chun-to has provoked outrage.
Violence against an outspoken journalist is indeed a crime against society, that is, all of us who live in Hong Kong, as it aims to inhibit freedom of speech to which we are all entitled.
If you observe carefully, you will see that freedom of speech in Hong Kong has already been eaten into by the rich and powerful who merely aim to preserve their economic and political gains.
Reportedly, they have stopped placing advertisements in those sections of the media that have material against them, pressurising the management to oust outspoken journalists and broadcasters.
In a totalitarian society, the media would simply become a social control agent by churning out hollow and ineffective propaganda.
Whenever I travel to the mainland, it often amuses me to watch those government commercials on TV that feature honest officials who refuse bribes and neighbours who help out one another.
Children who are subject to such propaganda continually will definitely be bewildered by the reality they see every day in which corruption permeates every section of society and people don't stop on the street to help someone in need.
I would be distraught if the media in Hong Kong degenerated into an agent of social control and worked only for those who have power.
As an educator, I feel the urge to impart freedom of expression among our young people. Though it is an uphill battle as our education system does not really encourage critical and independent thinking, we should do our best to pass on this important value to the younger generation.
Also, we must condemn violence against journalists who may be risking their lives for our well-being.
Clive Chan, Lam Tin
Arrival tax would hurt HK's economy
The proposal by People Power lawmakers to impose an arrival tax on people coming into Hong Kong overland has proved to be controversial.
I would be strongly opposed to such a levy.
Tourism is one of the pillar industries in Hong Kong. This tax would lead to fewer visitors coming to Hong Kong and revenue from the tourist sector would be adversely affected.
If one of the aims of the proposal is to target parallel traders, an arrival charge of HK$100 would make a tiny dent in their profits and so would not deter them from making frequent trips across the border.
Also, with fewer tourists, there would be fewer jobs in the service sector and the unemployment rate would increase.
In 2003 following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, Hong Kong was in recession.
The spending by mainland tourists coming here helped us economically. We should recognise that we owe them because of the gains we made financially.
Countries such as Japan and South Korea do not have an arrival tax and we should not implement it.
I am concerned that if it was introduced, it would suggest that Hong Kong was discriminating against mainland citizens who want to come here.
There have already been conflicts between mainlanders and local citizens.
As I said, the parallel traders will be largely unaffected, but some of those honest visitors who come over the border to spend money may be put off coming here.
Also, if we imposed an arrivals tax, then the mainland authorities might also impose a similar charge for all Hong Kong citizens going north of the border.
I think the disadvantages would outweigh any positive aspects that some might claim.
Fion Sy Hoi-ki, Yau Yat Chuen
Discrimination unfair to mainlanders
There has been a hostile reaction from the tourism sector to the proposal by a Democratic Party lawmaker and two People Power legislative councillors to impose an arrivals tax on non-Hong Kong residents who enter the SAR by land.
They put forward the proposal because they do not think the city can absorb so many mainland visitors.
However, other legislators and people from the tourism industry say that such a measure would damage Hong Kong's reputation and would not curb parallel traders.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has made the point that these mainland visitors have brought a lot of job opportunities and therefore it would not be a good idea to impose this tax.
I agree and think the levy would be a bad idea as it would adversely affect Hong Kong's tourism industry and our economy. It is one of the most crucial industries in the SAR and if it is harmed, we could lose our competitive edge.
It would also be seen by mainland people as a form of discrimination. Some of the disagreements that have broken out between Hongkongers and mainlanders could get worse. They would feel as if they were being lumped in with the parallel traders, which is unfair.
The mainland authorities could hit back with a similar tax for all Hong Kong visitors, including those who have to cross the border every day.
The best way to deal with parallel traders is to impose stricter restrictions on them.
We need to expand facilities to cope with increasing numbers of mainland tourists.
Sabina Lam Siu-yin, Hung Hom
Olympics coverage disorganised
I refer to the letter from Winnie Ho, of TVB ("TVB Olympic coverage spans 5½ hours daily", February 24).
Her response to criticism of the station's poor coverage of the Winter Olympics was heroic but in reality the Hong Kong public had virtually no access to watching events. Any free-to-air coverage was random and you had no idea what would be covered or when, apart from the opening or closing ceremonies.
Additionally, why would anyone want to sign up for 12 months on Now for a product that they only want for two weeks?
What do we do with the remaining 50 weeks of mundane programming?
Most countries spend an enormous amount of taxpayers' money to send athletes to the Games. Why should we taxpayers have to pay for this when countries have full daily coverage on free to air?
I'm not sure who Ms Ho refers to who have congratulated TVB for bringing the Games to Hong Kong.
Alastair McIntyre, Pok Fu Lam