Letters to the Editor, June 16, 2014

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 3:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 3:03am

More must be done to help children at risk

The tragic case on June 4, in Wing Cheong Estate, Sham Shui Po, is heartbreaking ("Mother held after baby girl chopped to death", June 5).

The government must tackle the root problems of family violence with determination and draw up measures that are thorough and effective, creating a monitoring channel to ensure recommendations are followed through.

Responding to an outcry in the community over child deaths as a result of different causes, including family violence, and after a two-year pilot project, a child fatality review standing committee was formed in June 2011.

A total of 447 cases of different kinds of child fatalities have been reviewed and 90 recommendations made, including 209 cases reviewed and 69 recommendations made during the stage as a pilot project and 238 cases and 21 recommendations made as the standing committee.

However, the recommendations were sent back to the relevant government departments for them to follow up. There is no mandatory central monitoring system and no way to know how far and how thoroughly such recommendations have been implemented.

Existing child-care and protection systems, including the Maternal and Child Health Clinic providing the Comprehensive Child Development Services, the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance units of the Social Welfare Department and the community support networks, still have limitations when it comes to early identification and being able to help a family where a child is at risk.

The reasons for this single-parent mother falling out from the safety net must be carefully studied and policies swiftly implemented to close any gaps.

Many studies in Hong Kong and overseas have described the hardship encountered by single-parent families and have suggested how they can be helped. Decisive action needs to be taken at the top echelon of government.

Calling for the needy to come forward for help has too often failed. It actually takes courage and they need encouragement to seek help.

There are times when those in need were simply turned away as imminent harm was not observed.

Persistent outreach programmes are essential and some early prevention programmes run by non-governmental organisations, such as home visitation to support families with newborns, should be made widely available.

It takes government leadership and community participation to nurture a caring and just society, and turn Hong Kong into a safe, child-friendly city and a city of hope.

Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, vice-chairperson, Hong Kong Committee of Children's Rights


Contrasting fortunes for new passports

I would like to sing the praises of the Hong Kong Immigration Department by quoting the recent experience of two close acquaintances.

The first is a British citizen and Hong Kong resident who had to wait 10 weeks for their British passport to be renewed, with neither requests for additional information from the UK passport office nor corrections required to the original application.

The second is a native Hongkonger who had their Hong Kong SAR passport renewed in only five working days. Considering that local immigration staff have to deal with processing passports as well as identity cards, this is an astonishing achievement. Well done Hong Kong.

Ken Nicolson, The Peak


Too many buses are less than half full

I am sure bus companies will always invest in new and bigger vehicles as long as there is money to be made ("Longest buses, with room for more passengers, hit the streets of Hong Kong", June 3). This is a straightforward commercial decision.

The government, however, must regulate larger buses and fleet expansions to ease road congestion, to reduce pollution and meet the demands of the community.

Any official who went out on the streets would see long lines of double-deckers on main thoroughfares, puffing smoke outside peak hours, which are less than half full. At night, many of these buses are just parked on streets.

Traffic and transport problems are the by-products of economic development and are inevitable.

The important thing for an effective government is its effort, in the form of policies and their implementation, to alleviate them.

Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long


Urban cycling could cut air pollution

A proposal was put forward in April to take most vehicles off Des Voeux Road and leave it to pedestrians and trams, but I do not think this is feasible. Nor do I see this measure doing much to ease pollution in such a busy part of Hong Kong.

Also, it will encounter opposition from a number of quarters, including the government.

It is estimated that it would be at least six years before the scheme could be implemented in Central business district.

However, there are other ways to make a difference. A number of countries in the West encourage their citizens to use bicycles in urban areas and to make it easier to establish a cycling network in cities.

It can improve air quality and reduce the cost of travelling on public transport for residents when commuting to and from work every day.

Some people might say that encouraging cycling in the city is dangerous, but accidents involving cyclists are relatively rare and the Hong Kong government could launch a campaign promoting safety on the roads for cyclists.

Ensuring greater road-safety awareness is very important.

The proposals for the tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly Des Voeux Road affect only one area of Hong Kong.

Widespread urban cycling can affect the whole city and lead to much greater improvements in air quality

If an urban cycling scheme proved to be successful in Hong Kong, then I think we would see an improvement to Hong Kong's environment.

Carman Cheung Cheuk-ping, Tseung Kwan O


Safer roads with licensing system

There is a definite lack of awareness and respect for and by cyclists on Hong Kong's roads.

One solution to bridging this gap would be for cyclists to pay road-user charges as well as undergo licensing to enable them to cycle on Hong Kong's challenging road network.

This would go some way to improving all road-user behaviour and awareness and subsequently reduce the risk that comes with road sharing.

David Edwards, Sai Kung


Be tolerant to visitors from mainland

In April, Commerce Secretary Greg So Kam-leung asked people to be more tolerant towards mainlanders. This followed an incident in Mong Kok where a mainland toddler was filmed urinating in the street, having been allowed to do so by his mother.

Mr So said it was better to teach people than point an accusatory finger.

Although this kind of behaviour is wrong, people who witness it should behave in a rational manner.

Furthermore, mainland tourists can be persuaded to avoid such actions through education, rather than being ostracised.

Although strong opinions have been expressed about this incident, I do not think people should have made such a big deal out of it, especially the other pedestrians who where there.

After all, what happened was not the child's fault, but a mistake on the part of the mother. Obviously, she had other, preferable, options, such as finding a toilet in the street or in a mall.

We should not discriminate against mainlanders who visit or who live here. I read an online article in which a cleaning lady in an office building, who is originally from Guangzhou, described the subtle discrimination she is subjected to, and why she feels isolated from the Hong Kong community.

Another woman said she heard the term mainlanders used every day in the city, be derogatory. Some Hong Kong people seem to regard migrants from north of the border as lazy and here to take advantage of the city's resources. This is patently discrimination.

The government should encourage people to be more tolerant towards our mainland cousins.

Sarah Bridgit Collum, Lantau


Aggressive behaviour unacceptable

Confrontations between mainlanders and locals have become more common in recent years.

These often come about because of cultural differences and resentment that some Hongkongers feel towards the central government because they feel it wants to restrict their freedom.

However, efforts should be made in a society to resolve differences in a peaceful manner. Using strong-arm tactics is not the right way to go about things.

Protesters who are unhappy with the government can always write a letter or organise a petition.

There is no excuse for aggressive behaviour that can lead to others being hurt. Discussion is always better than violence. Freedom of speech means not stopping others from expressing their views. That is a principle which should apply not only to individuals but also to governments.

Yeung Kam, Tsuen Wan