Letters to the Editor, March 13, 2014
Cyclists on MTR trains act responsibly
I refer to the letter by Agnes Tsoi ("Pass bylaw to ban bicycles on trains", March 9).
As a regular user of the MTR and former KCR lines, I have seen an increasing number of cyclists using the trains.
They have all, without exception, carried bikes with front wheels removed, and have positioned the bikes in a safe and convenient place in the carriage. Most riders also tend to stand next to their bikes during the journey.
I would guess from the correspondent's tone that she has had a negative experience involving bikes carried on a train. I have had many negative experiences involving people with large suitcases, babies in pushchairs, and trolleys piled high with unwieldy boxes of milk powder, chocolates and other products. Is she suggesting we ban these also?
Far from banning bikes on trains, I would like to see the MTR Corporation providing special carriages where people with bikes, prams and large items of luggage would be welcomed. Such carriages would have fold-up seats, thus maximising floor space for baggage, and they could be fitted with suitcase racks like those on the airport buses.
The government is actively promoting popular cycling in Hong Kong through its provision of bike paths.
Not everybody lives in a cycling-friendly area of Hong Kong and they will continue to rely on the trains to get them to more pleasant riding locations until the cycle network is much more comprehensive than it is at present.
Stephen Potts, Sheung Shui
Government should respect street art
The reappearance of the Pac-Man, a copy of the work by French street artist Invader that was removed by the Highways Department last month, was welcomed by locals and by the artist.
Since the removal of the original work, there has been criticism over the government's policy towards aesthetic education. It has allocated a lot of resources to create a cultural hub in West Kowloon, yet the removal of street art by officials poses a serious threat to the healthy growth of arts and culture in the city.
Works like Pac-Man and graffiti represent a form of art that brings a high level of social interaction. Pac-Man, apart from amusing people, rekindles the collective memory of those who played the Pac-Man video game in the 1980s. Officials should explore the benefits of street art to the city, instead of labelling it as vandalism.
I welcome the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District and the facilities it will provide. But this is one location. Street art is accessible to all pedestrians.
If it is strictly prohibited citizens will lose out when they could experience these works on a daily basis, not to mention developing a sense of art appreciation. Admittedly some street paintings are substandard, but that does not mean that all these works should be erased.
There is a great deal of potential for street art to survive, given all the alleys and subways in Hong Kong that could be brightened up.
It would be great if artists could express themselves in some designated areas without fear of prosecution. The government has to embrace a wider range of art forms.
Swanie Chung, Sai Kung
Traffic island at dangerous location
Last month a schoolgirl was injured in a road traffic accident involving a minibus, when trying to cross Chung Hau Street, at a traffic island between Carmel Secondary School and SKH Holy Trinity Church Secondary School near Oi Man Estate.
Similar accidents have happened before at the same spot and it is high time this matter was looked into.
The location of the traffic island poses a risk to pedestrians who are intending to cross the road. It is close to bus stops and the view for pedestrians is often blocked by buses.
The fact that Chung Hau Street slants upward and then dips at a bend a short distance from the traffic island makes it impossible for drivers heading towards Oi Man Estate to see pedestrians in time.
Pedestrians crossing here on the side of the road adjacent to Carmel Secondary School are therefore particularly at risk.
A few traffic warning signs have been put up to remind drivers to be vigilant, but these signs are apparently inadequate to deter commercial drivers from slowing down, as time means money. By the time they notice that people are crossing the road at the traffic island and jam their brakes, they may have difficulty stopping their vehicle in time.
A quick and simple solution would be to move the traffic island about 20 metres from its original location, in the direction of Oi Man Estate. This would enable drivers the crucial extra seconds to stop their vehicle and for pedestrians to see the traffic on the road.
The island is used by hundreds of students every school day and the Transport Department must act swiftly to ensure their safety.
Maria Ng, Mong Kok
Very familiar response from Beijing
Doesn't everybody get that déjà vu feeling?
A consultation paper is released, pan-democrats pose several models, all are against the Basic Law, and Beijing officials come out and say that we can't adopt a Western model of democracy.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Acceptable protest, but it has limits
In December, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was hit with an egg during a forum to discuss the public consultation on electoral reform. The same day, anti-government protesters threw the toy wolf Lufsig at the chief executive.
I have no problem with such activists throwing objects to get their point across, so long as the objects pose no threat to the well-being of the person who is targeted. In both incidents, they were trying send a message about their desire for universal suffrage.
They are frustrated that the government continues not to give a date for the implementation of universal suffrage in the city.
Protests of this nature will attract the attention of Hong Kong citizens and the central government and even get publicity in the press overseas.
As I said, so long as the object is not intended to do any physical harm, it might sometimes attract more attention than, for example, going on strike or writing a letter to a newspaper.
However, such activists should always avoid using violence or foul language.
Jane Wong, Sham Shui Po
ATV does not deserve to keep licence
I do not think the government should allow ATV to continue to hold its free-to-air licence.
As a stated term of its licence, it is supposed to be running English-language programming [on ATV World] for the benefit of English-speaking people and also Cantonese speakers who may want to watch and listen to such programmes.
However, the station is not sticking to the spirit of the licence in running hours of drivel from CCTV. This is tantamount to broadcasting Chinese propaganda.
The English level on such programmes is not only insulting to native English speakers but also overtly clumsy in terms of political messages and overtones.
I have asked the Broadcasting Authority [now Communications Authority] about this twice. It has acknowledged my questions, but has failed to provide any substantive reply.
Is it because it's a mainland issue and therefore is too hot to handle? Who is responsible for this?
It is a farce to deny another operator a free-to-air licence recently on a quality issue when the quality issues are so damning against ATV.
Put the station out of its misery and end our suffering by removing its licence.
Fergus Duncan, Sai Kung
Registration system faces hurdles
Last year, the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee suggested looking into a proposal to improve the quality of subdivided flats.
It was proposed that these units could be regulated by introducing a licensing or registration system.
It seems bizarre that such an idea would appear to make something that is illegal, legal.
These subdivided apartments have a lot of related safety problems.
For example, often the flat or building in which they are located does not have enough fire-fighting equipment and hygiene standards are poor.
I just do not see how these safety issues can be suitably addressed with a licensing system in place.
It has proved difficult to crack down on the owners and operators of this kind of accommodation.
Most people who live in these flats do so because they are poor. The safety issue is not uppermost in their minds.
Their main concern is the rent they will be charged and whether they can afford it.
Even with a licensing system, if an owner chooses to ignore it, people will still live in those flats, because they do not have a choice.
If the government really wants to help these tenants, it must work harder to eradicate poverty.
Sheri Ong, Sai Kung