Letters to the Editor, September 02, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2015, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 September, 2015, 5:19pm

Uber simply offers a better service

The main reason taxi drivers in Hong Kong have lost customers who are choosing car-hailing apps like Uber is because local cabbies are not meeting passengers' expectations.

Even though I am not a frequent user of taxis, I believe the quality of the service that they provide has been in decline.

You read news reports of customers complaining about the bad attitude of some taxi drivers who try to overcharge.

Then there the times of the day in certain locations when you have stand in long queues at taxi ranks.

Frankly, given the problems people experience with Hong Kong cabs, I would rather call Uber. It offers an efficient and polite transportation service and these drivers do not overcharge.

I think the best solution would be for the taxi operators and Uber and similar firms to cooperate with each other.

However, it appears there are still some legal issues that need to be resolved and these car-hire companies must ensure they have all the necessary insurance so that passengers are protected.

The different parties - local taxi associations, the government and firms like Uber - should be sitting down and discussing ways to ensure a better overall transport system for Hong Kong.

Although I think Uber really does a better job, it would be better if it can cooperate with the taxi fleets.

Sandy Chan Lap-kiu, Yau Tong

Complaints show a lot of dissatisfaction

Swift action by police over allegations Uber drivers were using cars without permits and proper insurance is commendable.

All businesses should be registered with a proper licence and insurance and comply with all aspects of the law.

However, I am surprised that police have not shown the same kind of efficiency against those taxi drivers who often violated their taxi licence regulations.

They indulge in activities such as overcharging tourists, refusing to take a hire while displaying the "for hire" sign, and putting up the "not for hire" sign while waiting for a passenger to a destination that is more convenient to them.

There were more than 10,000 complaints against taxi services last year.

I am sure this number would be even higher if more tourists and locals upset by the behaviour of cabbies had bothered to lodge a complaint.

I would like to know, in the last five years, how many of these drivers have been prosecuted and fined, as I believe offenders have often got away with lenient punishment.

J. Parthasarathy, Tsim Sha Tsui

Answers needed over tragic blasts

The twin explosions that rocked Tianjin last month received global attention, not just because it was such a serious accident, but because it highlighted the mismanagement of the mainland authorities.

Following the accident, it was revealed that the containers there had not had security checks. Officials in the relevant departments should have ensured all facilities with dangerous goods underwent a proper inspection.

If these explosions had not happened, these shortcomings would not have come to light.

Also, the hazardous goods warehouse at the centre of the explosions contravened regulations, by being closer than it should have been to flats. Because of this, casualties were higher than they might have been.

There must be a comprehensive and transparent investigation by the central government into what happened and who was to blame, and there must be full disclosure so the citizens of Tianjin are told everything.

Officials also have to look into the response of the emergency services. Firemen who were first on the scene used the wrong methods to try and put out the fires and many died.

It seems clear they were not given adequate crisis response training and not taught the correct methods to adopt to deal with these explosions. The department which trained these firefighters must take responsibility for this.

This disaster will undermine the confidence citizens have in the central government and it must take the necessary measures to rectify that.

Zoe Chung Ka-man, Po Lam

Many elderly want to work for longer

I refer to the letter by Angel Cheung ("Many elderly struggling to survive", August 27).

Miss Cheung suggested that more help should be offered to the elderly in Hong Kong and that if they wish to, they should be allowed to work longer.

I agree with your correspondent that many pensioners do not have enough money to see them through their old age. They need to be able to delay the age they are scheduled to retire.

Some elderly people in Hong Kong are extremely poor. It is not uncommon to see them in the streets with trolleys collecting discarded material such as cardboard and aluminium cans to sell to recyclers. The meagre sums they make from this supplement their incomes.

They also queue at MTR stations every day to get copies of free Chinese-language newspapers like am730 and Headline Daily.

Although many are really too old to be working, they cannot afford not to collect this material.

The government has to find a way to offer more job opportunities to elderly people. There is still a lot of public prejudice about senior citizens remaining in the workplace.

Many employers may be reluctant to hire them as they think that they will not be efficient or productive. Laws should be implemented to outlaw age discrimination.

Hong Kong has an ageing population so it makes sense for people to work longer if they are able to do so. This will be essential to try and counter a shortage of labour.

Older people want to work for longer so they can enjoy their retirement.

The government could encourage charities and non-governmental organisations to employ some senior citizens.

They can learn from the successful restaurant group Gingko House.

These are high-class eateries selling good-quality food which employ mainly elderly people.

Employers who hire elderly employees are shouldering their corporate social responsibility.

Surely none of us like to see the plight of elderly citizens trying to get by with very little money.

Part of Hong Kong's success now is due to the hard toil of senior citizens during their working lives.

The government and employers should make a concerted effort to ensure they can enjoy a hassle-free old age, which is free of serious financial problems.

Joshua Tam, Ma On Shan

Trams give us all a chance to slow down

Trams are not as widespread as buses or MTR trains, but they are irreplaceable.

Most Hongkongers lead fast-paced lives. We walk quickly to our destinations and work hard, whether we are students or office workers.

We yearn for the latest technology and so some people want to consign older technology to museums. Retired planner Sit Kwok-keung proposes scrapping the trams from Central to Admiralty to relieve traffic congestion.

However, the trams are part of our heritage and a reminder of the importance of sometimes just going at a slower pace. When you sit upstairs on a tram, you can relax and enjoy views of the city.

I hope the trams will always be with us and serve to remind us that sometimes we should slow down.

Carman Cheung Cheuk-ping, Tseung Kwan O