Letters to the Editor, March 25, 2014

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 5:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 5:05am

Chance to enlarge station squandered

I refer to the report ("More services to ease crush on MTR lines", March 19) where you correctly identify that Admiralty station is one of the city's busiest interchanges.

I do not commute at rush hour. However, on a recent Friday evening I took the MTR from Admiralty to Jordan. I encountered a chaotic scene at platform level. People were packed together like sardines and as a Tsuen Wan-bound train arrived the crowd surged forward towards the doors. The influx of new passengers from the westbound Island Line to this platform was greater than the off take onto the Kowloon bound trains, which were arriving at Admiralty already almost fully loaded at Central. So the squeeze intensified.

It took eight trains before I was able to squeeze into a carriage. Movement in this crowd was involuntary, and I felt this was a trampling or stampede accident waiting to happen.

Fortunately platform screen doors are installed or passengers would have been shunted off the platform onto the tracks. When I discussed this with friends who use the MTR more regularly at rush hour they said this is now a normal situation as the numbers have been so greatly swelled by mainland tourists returning from Causeway Bay shopping and Ocean Park. MTR operations director Dr Jacob Kam Chak-pui acknowledges that this pressure situation will not ease until 2020 with the opening of the Sha Tin to Central link. But this platform capacity problem is sure to intensify.

Could Dr Kam advise these columns how he expects to handle the increased passenger flows at this overcrowded Admiralty platform created by the commissioning of the West Island Line later this year and by the opening in 2015 of the South Island Line with its northern terminus at Admiralty? What contingency plans does the MTR have to mitigate this huge surge in patronage?

The Transport Department has proved to be impotent in handling road congestion at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. It is unacceptable if the same impotence is applied to the MTR overcrowding, as a downright dangerous situation is progressively developing.

The Admiralty site for the new government headquarters at Tamar could have been put to much more productive use by massively enlarging the Admiralty station concourse to handle extensions of the Tung Chung Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line under the Central and North Wan Chai reclamations.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai


Selfish people make things much worse

I often take the MTR and it disturbs me that people still try to board a coach that is obviously full.

No one wins from this, as the doors keep reopening.

Consequently, the train is delayed and the passengers on the platform get increasingly angry.

Ironically, you tend to see this problem developing during rush hours when a smooth operation of the network is so badly needed.

I wish passengers could try and show more patience.

If the arriving train is clearly full, then passengers should just wait, as another train will be along soon. But arriving trains will be delayed if the doors keep reopening because of the selfish actions of people.

The MTR Corporation has employed station assistants to maintain order on the platform of busy stations. However, they can't do much if passengers refuse to show self-discipline.

Leung Chu-kai, Ap Lei Chau


Casinos would not be suitable for Lantau

I thought someone was having a joke when I read the letter by Lau Shui-sang about an idea that had been proposed in a Chinese-language paper ("Construct casinos on Lantau", March 18).

This suggestion that a major recreation area, necessary for the health and sanity of those who live here, should house casinos is nothing short of absurd.

Your correspondent adds hypocrisy to absurdity with his suggestion that Hong Kong citizens should be deterred from entering the casinos with a HK$500 entry fee, while tourists would be allowed in free of charge.

If it is undesirable for Hong Kong citizens to use the casinos, why would we want to have them here at all?

Would anyone who loved Hong Kong seriously advocate turning Lantau into another Cotai Strip?

Patricia Malone, Central


Irresponsible drivers getting off scot-free

I write regarding the letters by Steven Knipp ("Police must catch reckless Lantau drivers", March 9) and Andy Robinson ("Drivers break rules with impunity", March 18).

They were highlighting some bad manners or illegal behaviour exhibited by some negligent drivers they have seen, such as speeding and running red lights.

It is a no-brainer that drivers who lack any sense of safety and have nothing but contempt for Hong Kong's traffic regulations can turn their vehicle into a killing machine.

As I have observed, drivers of cross-boundary private cars with dual licence plates are often guilty of insane driving habits on our roads. They do a number of irresponsible actions, including crossing double white lines, and using their smartphones while they are driving.

As a frequent commuter between Hong Kong and the mainland, I have had many opportunities to witness these dangerous acts while I was travelling in a coach or seven-seater limousine. Indeed, some of the drivers in the vehicles I use can be reckless.

Take the Shenzhen Bay control point as an example, as I usually cross there. There is a long, straight road and a high-speed bridge that link the control point and urban areas.

Every time I am in a coach or hired car, I see drivers overtaking at crazy speeds.

The presence of speed cameras does not appear to deter them.

Maybe they believe that enforcement of traffic laws in these border area is less stringent than in urban areas of Hong Kong, so they have no fear of getting caught.

They may slow down where a speed check has been set up by police, as it is often at a fixed location.

I have seen near misses where these speeding cars almost knocked down someone who works at or near the control point, such as cleaners and maintenance workers, right after drivers leave the kiosks they have to stop at for clearance.

More than that, they will also jump queues by cutting across double white lines before leaving the clearance kiosks.

Also, many of them press their hands constantly on horns to try and clear the queue of cars in front of them.

They don't seem concerned that their irresponsible and sometimes dangerous behaviour could be filmed by CCTV cameras.

Edmond Au, Kwun Tong


Activities after school part of education

I refer to the letter ("Get rid of some after-school activities", March 20) claiming that teenagers are not getting enough sleep because of too many extracurricular activities.

I am not sure why after-school activities are considered to be "extra". In fact, most schools abroad refer to "co-curricular" activities.

More and more research has shown us how learning through activities is far more effective than doing dull homework. They are, in fact, not contradictory. School work and these activities need not clash. They serve as partners while helping a child grow.

The Education Bureau has also addressed this matter with its educational reforms, emphasising the importance of other learning experiences.

Education is no longer about rote learning or having particular knowledge of a subject.

We want to prepare our youngsters to see themselves as life-long learners.

Activities, be it sports, aesthetic or voluntary work, help students develop sets of various values, attitudes and virtues that are necessary for them to handle the enormous amount of information available in this day and age.

A spoon-feeding education makes no sense in Hong Kong.

Michael Wong Wai-shing, Tseung Kwan O


Help more migrants to join workforce

I would like to add my voice to those who agree with providing more training and babysitting services to help women who have recently migrated to Hong Kong from the mainland to enter the labour force.

Now applicants only have to have been residents in Hong Kong for one year to qualify for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). That means relatively new mainland migrants can receive these welfare payments. This can lead to more conflicts between Hongkongers and mainlanders, because the former group will resent the fact that the migrants are getting welfare when they have not paid any taxes.

I think many of these people want to work, but do not have the skills required. If the government provides them with the right training they can acquire these skills.

Sometimes the wife in a family cannot take a job offer because she has to look after her young children. Again, if more babysitting services are made available, these mothers would be able to go to work. More of them would be employed and this would lead to gains for Hong Kong's economy. Also, it would provide more work for people running these services.

There will be less tension between mainlanders and Hongkongers if more migrants are in the workforce.

Eunice Cheung, Ma On Shan