Letters to the Editor, May 6, 2014
Departments should be more vigilant
I refer to the report ("Methodist church agrees building deal", April 25) where the Planning Department has succumbed yet again to the development plans put forward by the Methodist Church [in Yau Ma Tei] that quadruple current height restrictions.
Traditionally the Christian non-conformist churches have staunchly rejected the towering domes and spires of the Catholic and orthodox persuasions in favour of modest low-rise places of worship.
However, here in Hong Kong, their high-density redevelopment plans for government, institutional and community sites (G/IC) normally propose that height restrictions be waived by the Town Planning Board.
There are recent examples at Kennedy Road and Spring Garden Lane in Wan Chai. Perhaps the church leaders are wishing to get closer to God, but the usual rationale is that they intend to incorporate facilities for the community which the Home Affairs Department is reluctant to supply.
It appears that the churches' acumen in getting applications approved at the Town Planning Board could teach even the tycoons a trick or two.
I was interested to read that the proposed 14-storey block will house a hostel for disabled people and centres for elderly and family services.
I hope this Yau Ma Tei project does not follow the Wan Chai formula whereby the Methodist's hostel for soldiers and sailors was transformed into a 251-room commercial hotel, the Ozo Wesley, which provides little benefit to the disadvantaged of our community.
This, in spite of lease conditions that restrict use to "a non-profit-making hostel".
It is high time that the departments responsible for the provision of public services scrutinised plans put forward by religious bodies more critically, as they are often more about revenue generation and proselytism than the provision of genuine grass-roots services.
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai
Teach young people to respect the law
Many people, especially young people, download music from the internet illegally.
The temptation is strong because it is convenient, free and easy to do.
These people do not seem concerned that they are violating copyright laws.
The people who lose out are those who created, produced and performed the music, because they do not receive any payment.
I think the government and schools can play their part in curbing this problem.
The government should look at the relevant legislation, and if necessary strengthen it and ensure that any laws which are passed can be enforced. If it is felt that new laws are needed, they should be enacted.
The administration also has to step up publicity through TV and radio broadcasts about protecting copyright.
Schools also need to teach students about the importance of respecting copyright by holding a variety of talks and workshops.
Young people need to be made to understand the consequences if they are found to have downloaded music illegally.
As individuals, we can all play our part by refusing to download music if we have not paid for it and not downloading any pirated versions of software.
It is in the interests of society as a whole for schools and the government to combat this illegal kind of behaviour.
Raymond Chan Kwun-hin, Tseung Kwan O
Give HK's streets back to pedestrians
I refer to the proposed tram and pedestrian precinct in Des Voeux Road, Central ("Planners want buses off Central road", April 29).
This excellent scheme is urgently required to help bring the central business district up to international standards, and is now more practicable than ever due to the Central-Wan Chai bypass and new MTR lines.
I hope the government embraces this proposal and deploys sufficient resources and co-ordination between departments and stakeholders to facilitate its quick implementation.
Additionally, I would urge the government to revisit the pedestrian facilities improvements to provide pedestrian priority over vehicles and reduce traffic accidents as proposed over a decade ago by the Transport Department. The objectives to improve pedestrian safety and mobility, promote walking as a transport mode, discourage access for non-essential vehicles, improve environmental hygiene and reduce air pollution are as pertinent now as they were then.
New York has a "World Class Streets" report that sought to "re-imagine the public realm".
In the case of Hong Kong, this requires a change in mindset to recognise streetscape as public realm and the comprehensive redesign of non-compliant footpaths which are too narrow for safe public use and the incorporation of high-standard landscape planting, preferably canopy trees to provide shade and visual amenity.
Critically, this needs to be addressed at grade and not seconded to a network of elevated or underground structures.
Barnaby Smith, Wan Chai
Allow children to enjoy growing up
As a Form Two pupil I believe that extracurricular activities should be something to be enjoyed. They should be part of a young person's leisure time and they should feel passionate about such activities.
Nowadays, competition in Hong Kong is getting keener. "Tiger mothers" force their children into joining lots of extracurricular activities and tutorial classes. They believe that this will give their sons and daughters a better chance of getting into a good school.
However, they are incorrectly seeing extracurricular activities as a kind of competition rather than a pastime which should be enjoyed. Many young people take piano lessons, but Hong Kong produces few professional musicians. I wonder why this is the case.
If they have too many extracurricular activities, children will be deprived of their playtime.
Also, if they have to attend tutorial classes in the evening, they might not get enough sleep and this could lead to them being tired in class and not being able to concentrate on their studies.
Children should be allowed to grow up normally and to dream.
They should not grow up thinking the most important thing is to compete and beat other people.
Parents should not damage the next generation and have them growing up with a twisted moral outlook.
Cheryl Lam, Kwai Chung
Working hours legislation is not practical
Marches were held to mark May Day last week involving various local labour groups.
Some of them were calling for laws to set standard working hours in Hong Kong. There is still no legislation in the SAR stipulating standard working hours.
These labour groups want the government to introduce laws as soon as possible.
I would be against the administration introducing such laws.
It would be difficult to calculate what was a fair figure in terms of maximum hours to be worked by individuals.
There are some jobs where stipulating maximum hours is very difficult, for example, for lawyers and doctors.
Also, with teachers, they often have to work after the school day has ended, for example, marking students' homework or preparing lessons for the following day.
For some people who have to do additional work, it would be very difficult to calculate the hours that they work.
For this reason, I think calculating working hours as part of legislation would not be practical.
Also, a law like this could prove very costly for companies, especially those in the financial sector that are working round the clock.
There would be far too many disadvantages to having this kind of law in an international financial centre like Hong Kong.
Yip Wai-tsang, Kowloon Tong
MTR Corp must try to do better
Train services were halted on the MTR's East Rail Line for part of the morning on April 27.
Although it was fairly brief, service disruption continued for a few hours.
I think this was a serious incident. Because the MTR is a very popular form of public transport, it affected a lot of people.
Breakdowns like this can adversely affect a company's business and lead to them incurring losses.
When it has problems like this with the system, the MTR Corporation must try to fix them as soon as possible and explain in full what happened.
It also raises questions about the quality of the network and if parts of it, for example, the computers, are outdated.
If this is the case, then it is unacceptable, as the MTR Corp makes a lot of money every year.
It has a responsibility to ensure that it improves its inspection and maintenance procedures to try and prevent a repeat of these delays.
Also, when there is a problem with the system, it must try and fix it as soon as possible.
Any delay in dealing with a problem with any of its lines is unacceptable.
Chim Shuk-yee, Tsuen Wan