Letters to the Editor, April 8, 2014
Sai Kung's bad traffic merits at least proposals
I read with interest the recent piece by Ada Lee ("Hong Kong 'the best city in the world for commuters'", April 3). It's good to see Hong Kong coming first at something we can be proud of - our public transport system.
However, summer is coming, and as the recent spell of premature hot weather reminded us, we (in Sai Kung, anyway) are in for yet another year of overcrowding - buses and taxis crammed with weekend or holiday tourists, who sometimes overwhelm services to the point where locals can't even get on a double-decker bus on their usual route because they are packed to the gills.
Sai Kung residents are lucky, in that we have green, mountainous views or sea views to admire whenever we want.
The vast majority of visitors who come here aren't so lucky, I imagine, and I certainly understand why they would want to escape their concrete jungles for a day out, enjoying seafood or eating at one of the many great restaurants Sai Kung has to offer.
The government has to manage the traffic and transport situation better; there are oceans of room for improvement. Instead of treating Sai Kung like the middle child and leaving us wondering whether it's really worth venturing into town, why won't the government at least consider a ferry service to reduce the number of buses and cars?
It's been suggested in the past, and I think at one point there were even dredging operations carried out to accommodate a ferry service, but for some reason the ferries never appeared.
Road transport and more public vehicles is not the answer. Blaring horns and idling engines, with little help from the authorities (whose job it is to control the traffic) don't make for a peaceful weekend afternoon here.
Whenever I've suggested public transport alternatives in the past, all I've received from the respondents is denial and avoidance of the core issues. Could the secretary for transport and housing respond with something that would help alleviate the usual congestion?
A tangible, realistic proposal that demonstrates a real understanding of the situation would be very much welcomed.
Andrew Maxwell, Sai Kung
Better to teach dating to teens than just ban it
After reading the report "Tuen Mun school sets a no-dating policy" (March 24), I submit this is not the most effective way to stop students dating.
A lot of parents and teachers think that students should not date when they are still studying, as dating will bring much negative impact to the students, such as consuming valuable study time and affecting their academic results. But boys and girls can have a pure friendship. They can still go out together. The ban means taking away a normal social life between girls and boys.
I think it would be better if teachers and parents teach them how to date correctly, or give them some advice about dating and love. That would be far better than just setting a policy that bans dating.
Teachers could invite some social workers to tell the students how they can love or date correctly. Moreover, schools can teach more about this topic in the life education lessons.
Parents can also share their own experience with their children.
Marco Kam, Sha Tin
To Tuen Mun principal: read Shakespeare
I refer to recent letters about the Tuen Mun principal who has banned dating in his school.
The case against interference in teenage love was made unforgettably by Shakespeare about 400 years ago.
Might I respectfully suggest that the principal in question revise his Form Five English literature class and reread Romeo and Juliet?
Amanda Snow, Lantau
Militarism by Japan notable for atrocities
In his letter "Militarism is a cancer feeding on humanity" (March 30), J Garner tries to tell us - and Asian women in particular - that when any nation arms up, not just Japan and China, it results in actions by the soldiers that are not necessarily condoned by politicians. Japan, therefore, is not the only country that should be denounced for wartime atrocities, as probably all armies have perpetrated the same.
That is not true at all. Garner seems to be one of those who have fallen victim to the doctoring of history books by Japan, implying that the Japanese can not only be forgiven, but also that their unparalleled military atrocities can be forgotten.
What is true - and this is from an American history book - is that among Asian nations, Japan found itself rapidly running out of room to live (just as Hitler's Germany found itself running short of Lebensraum), because its population had nearly doubled in the 50 years of the Meiji era, which began in 1868.
In the 1890s, Japan joined European imperialists and the US in a massive land grab (although the Europeans had actually started the century before), and annexed Korea in 1910. Probably spurred on by intense insecurity because of the horrendous earthquake of 1923, Japan wrestled plentiful Manchuria (now northeast China), which at that time was producing much of the world's soya beans, from Russia in the 1920s and resettled its people there.
Japan invaded China in 1937 and, from 1941, the European colonies in Asia.
China, on the other hand, was all the time at the receiving end of such wars of aggression as the Opium War. As President Xi Jinping said during a visit to Germany, China is arming up to prevent being such a victim again.
China's military build-up is defensive.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
One way to raise our water tariffs
In the budget, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is considering raising water tariffs to offset the possibility of a structural deficit.
The Water Supplies Department is a public enterprise that provides its service at an affordable price. His proposed increases should be acceptable to the public.
Nonetheless, the tariffs will affect some people's livelihoods. Industries that have higher water consumption will be the first to bear the brunt, and restaurants, for example, will ultimately pass the cost on to consumers.
In my view, the department can cancel the tariff waiver on the first 12 cubic metres of water used, and increase charges by about 50 cents to reduce losses.
Michelle Tsang Chun-man, Kowloon Tong
Fairer laws to help helpers still missing
The letter from L. Chang ("Compulsory medical exam could prevent abuse of helpers", April 2) makes some very valid comments on the treatment of domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
However, when the writer stated: "Of course, doctors would have to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether physical or emotional", it immediately pointed out just why this well-intentioned scheme would not work.
As pointed out many times in these columns, servants will just not report these cases because of the "punishment" inflicted on them as a result of the laws covering their employment being unjust. When such cases do come to light, the helper is forced to leave the employer's accommodation and move into a dormitory provided by a charitable organisation.
As they are then deprived of income, they have to rely on charity. They cannot send much needed funds to their family, make payments on loans or pay exorbitant agency fees, and are forced to break into their hard-earned savings.
Apparently, L Chang is, like me, one of the many who are fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful relationship with their helpers. Unfortunately, until the regulations are dramatically amended to ensure fairness, we are still going to get many cases similar to the recent one involving the helper who had to make her own way back to Indonesia in such a terrible condition.
The Philippines Consulate bans agencies from charging excessive fees. One wonders why other countries do not follow suit.
J. Wilson, Kwun Tong
MTR cyclists deserve praise, not glares
Surely, we've all experienced MTR rush hours, how it feels to be a human sardine and, thanks to our compatriots from the mainland, bulky items are not loathed. Nonetheless, I'd like to point out that bringing bicycles on to trains is not necessarily an act of selfishness, but can be an act of green goodness.
By riding bicycles, people produce less air pollution, which is more beneficial to our air quality than the harm caused by the combustion of fuel by vehicles.
Bicycle riders should be rewarded, in fact, for carrying those bulky bicycles around the stations for the sake of Hong Kong's air and praised for their willingness to step forward and save our city and our world.
So the next time you want to complain about bulky bicycles on the train, think about what you have done to protect the environment instead of casting disapproving glares at them. They are less responsible for wasting resources than those of us who use electricity to charge the phone we can't live without.
Sarah Kong, Sha Tin