Letters to the Editor, April 28, 2014
Tough task trying to teach moral values
It was so refreshing and energising to read the report ("Morality is key for leadership: Antony Leung, April 24).
Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung was talking to Institute of Education students on the importance of moral values in the life of a leader.
Most of us might agree that inculcating moral values in students must be given top priority. However, this is the most challenging task for any educator.
Several experiments are being conducted in the field of structure of education at different age levels with no concrete conclusions.
Political leaders, thinkers, business tycoons and spiritual heads of major religions of today will have to meet on one platform and find a common denominator for man's well-being. Sincere research must be undertaken to find out just "where does a person's well-being lie"?
Hopefully then, a reasonable solution may be found and its implementation could then be filtered through various schools, colleges and other private institutions of learning.
Maybe our Education Bureau will take the initiative to organise such a forum of diverse sections of our community and wrestle with some fresh ideas.
Nothing worthwhile shall be achieved until the four main groups I mentioned above arrive at a consensus.
K. P. Daswani, Mid-Levels
Lifeguards' workload can be eased
Victoria Park public pool had to close for more than three hours on Monday because of industrial action by lifeguards over a staffing dispute.
The lifeguards are in dispute with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, saying the city's public pools and beaches need more lifeguards.
Because their grievances extend beyond the Victoria Park pool and given the government's refusal to give in to their demands, I think we could see further action being taken right across Hong Kong, with more public pools being closed.
The lifeguards have a number of primary and secondary duties.
If hiring new lifeguards is proving a problem, the department should consider contracting out most of the secondary duties (such as filing paperwork and checking a pool's chlorine and pH levels) that are part of their job description.
The lifeguards presently employed could then just concentrate on rescuing swimmers and administering first aid if needed. This would help to reduce their heavy workloads.
By contracting out, the department would ensure there was adequate manpower at all venues but must ensure there are no disputes over salary and benefit differences between department staff and contractors.
In fact, the cleaning and other general duties regarding Victoria Park public pool are already contracted out to a company, so this is clearly a system that is in place and works.
Also, if there are concerns about adequate supervision of the pool, its depth could be lowered to reduce the risk of less experienced swimmers getting into trouble.
As I understand it the depth of the Victoria Park pool is already set at 1.2 metres, which is a safe depth for the public.
Nobody wants to see Victoria Park or any other public pools in Hong Kong being closed over an industrial dispute by lifeguards.
However, I am sure this can be prevented if appropriate action is taken by the department in the near future.
Leo Sung, Causeway Bay
Futile study into pointless artificial island
In his policy address in January, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced his proposal for an artificial island as part of an East Lantau Metropolis.
The proposal, along with other possible artificial islands, will be part a HK$227 million study planned by the Development Bureau [slated to start in three months].
This study seems to me to be an exercise in futility and therefore a waste of public money
Within the territorial boundaries of Hong Kong we already have dozens of islands - some just off Lantau - which would be suitable for development.
I have my suspicions about this study and the government should explain in detail why it thinks it is necessary before it is given the green light. The proposal must be looked at in depth by legislative councillors.
Gravis Cheng, Yuen Long
Have clerics recite verses at bird culls
For thousands of years chickens, geese, ducks and other poultry have been slaughtered as food in order for humans to survive.
But these days when there is an outbreak of bird flu or other related viruses, these birds have to be culled in their thousands to prevent the spread of the disease.
Muslims and Jews, before slaughtering poultry, have always recited verses from their holy texts.
They do this so that the slaughtered animals will be respected in the name of God and their souls will rest in peace.
I only hope that if there is, for example, a flu outbreak or an epidemic and mass culls of birds are necessary, wherever this may happen, that the government will allow Jewish rabbis and Muslim clerics to follow this tradition of reciting from their holy books.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels
Nowhere to store luggage on ferry
I have safety concerns I wish to raise, after taking a CKS ferry to Shunde near Guangzhou over Easter, from Hong Kong Ferry Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui.
It was reassuring to see a safety video and demo explaining the use of life jackets - an improvement since the Lamma ferry tragedy.
Unlike Macau ferries, these ferries have no cargo storage area at the rear. Most passengers sit with their suitcases and other luggage next to them, which leaves a narrow corridor. We know from aircraft evacuations that people tend to try and take their luggage with them.
In the event of an evacuation, the exits would become jammed with people and their luggage. There are signs on the exits indicating the availability of life rafts but no mention of them in the safety briefing, which was confusing.
Most ferry collisions in and around local waters are minor.
It is only a matter of time before a major one occurs involving ferries carrying hundreds of passengers. I hope the Marine Department can explain why such an unsatisfactory, substandard situation still exists.
Patrick Gilbert, Fo Tan
Crackdown on health sector graft overdue
I refer to the report ("Shanghai arrests 160 gang suspects involved in citywide health care scam", April 16).
More than 500 victims were cheated out of 1.7 million yuan (HK$2.1 million) by being charged inflated prices for drugs.
What happened in Shanghai highlights the problem of corruption in the mainland's health-care system, where the situation is made worse by an insufficient number of doctors and bribes being given.
It is unethical when doctors act in this way, given that patients put their trust in them. Unfortunately, many medics over the border only care about making profits and regard that as more important than looking after their patients.
They seem to lack basic professional ethics. It is just not acceptable for them to be allowed to prescribe medicine a patient does not need and set high charges. It displays an absence of the kind of professionalism that is expected in the medical profession.
Something must be done to tackle this problem and ensure patients are protected against corruption and get the standard of care they deserve.
The central government must enforce stricter regulations in the country's health-care system and ensure proper supervision of all hospitals and clinics. But, officials should not just look at health care. They must eradicate corruption in all government departments. If the government does this, it will set itself up as a role model for the rest of society.
The problem of corruption in health care on the mainland is scandalous. The authorities must deal with this problem promptly.
Eliza Lam, Kowloon Tong
Smoking ban in cars impractical
Last month an anti-smoking activist called for smoking in cars to be banned and even suggested the ban could be extended to homes, as a way of protecting children from the effects of second-hand smoke.
Such a ban would be very difficult for the tobacco control officers to enforce.
They could warn drivers to put out their cigarettes, but once the officers leave, the individual could just light up again and children in the car would remain at risk.
A ban on smoking in homes is not practical.
Officers would have to patrol residential units and the cost to the taxpayers of doing so would be prohibitive.
Even if a neighbour reported someone smoking, how could it be proved in a court case?
The most practical way to protect children from second-hand smoke is to keep raising the tax on tobacco. This will encourage more people to give up smoking.
Chan Tak-yung, Ma On Shan