Letters to the Editor, September 26, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 4:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 4:23pm

Standing on escalator not a safer option

I disagree with Peter Lok's letter ("Most locals don't walk on escalators", September 23).

In many ways, our MTR was developed based on the experience of the London Underground system, which has been operating for over 150 years. Since 1979 [when the MTR opened], Hong Kong has followed the same social convention of standing on the right and stepping on the left on escalators. My own daily experience on the Island and Tsuen Wan lines is that "local folk" use escalators in exactly the same way as non-locals.

Those wishing to stand do so on the right, and those who want to walk use the left side, and my observation is that it is roughly a 50/50 split between standers and walkers. I normally walk. Mr Lok, in his wish to obediently support the official view, which has been much lampooned in these columns, has offered two reasons. Firstly, that we should follow Japan. However, most escalators in Japan are narrow and designed as single file, whereas Hong Kong follows London's, which are wide and designed as dual file.

Secondly, he argues that in a sudden emergency stop, those walking are in greater danger than those standing. Physics and kinesiology show the complete reverse, and those who are stationary will be much worse off when an escalator suddenly stops.

Those standing firm will be thrown forward and will lose balance and fall head-first. Those walking are already in motion and can react more readily to maintain balance.

Holding the handrail is good advice for everyone using escalators, whether they are standing on the right or walking on the left. If the MTR must make announcements, it should simply be, "Hold the handrails and pay full attention when using the escalators".

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels

Important role of first ladies is what matters

I refer to the Focus article ("Style takes centre stage as first ladies set for fashion face-off", September 23).

Beginning on a promising note, it lays out an impressive list of Peng Liyuan's and Michelle Obama's achievements. However, it then proceeds to pit the two highly accomplished women into a "fashion face-off", effectively negating the preceding paragraphs.

Not only does the article assume that the focus of our attention should be on the women's appearances, it also sends a dangerous message to young male and female readers.

It perpetuates an outdated and unequal view of men and women. While Barack Obama and Xi Jinping discuss relations between the world's two most powerful nations, Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan are relegated to battling each other on the style stakes.

It implies that a successful man can run a country, but for a woman, a measure of success lies in how "flirty" her dresses are, or how well her clothes can convey her "humility and grace".

The article is demeaning to both the women involved, and propagates an archaic message that continues to hold a glass ceiling over women today.

The South China Morning Post should be more progressive in its outlook, providing young women with role models based on their hard work, talents, and humanitarian contributions, not on how they look or what they wear.

Elise Ng-Cordell, Kowloon City 

Cyberbullies will abuse 'dislike' button

I refer to the report ("Facebook will introduce 'dislike button'", September 17).

The announcement of plans to introduce this new feature was made by CEO and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and some have criticised his decision.

Those who back it say it is good for people to express their feelings and show their concern instantly. Critics say it will discourage users from sharing, and if it is misused, could encourage cyberbullying.

Cyberbullies use social networking sites like Facebook for internet trolling. A study suggests that bullying is now more prevalent online than anywhere else. So the bullying problems exist even without a "dislike" button.

However, I am concerned this button will now make it even easier for these bullies to target their victims.

It will take these people a few minutes to scroll through every post on a user's page, clicking dislike and adding to any negative comments. Zuckerberg has declared that this button can be used to express empathy, but it will be impossible to manage it and make sure that is all it is used for.

However, one positive aspect is that the new "dislike" button can hopefully raise awareness about the problem of cyberbullying.

Lucy Lui Lo-hei, Tsuen Wan

Learn from Edinburgh's pricey project

I write regarding the silly suggestion to curtail the tram service between Central and Admiralty.

An interesting case study is Edinburgh in Scotland. There, trams were stopped in the 1950s and the tracks were removed.

Some years ago, it was decided to reinstate the tram service in parts of the city, for many of the reasons rightly given by supporters of the tram service in Hong Kong.

Re-laying tracks alone cost hundreds of millions of pounds, and large sections of the city centre were closed to traffic for a number of years.

Christopher Ruane, Sheung Wan

We must deal with wide rich-poor gap

I refer to the letter by Bernard E. S. Lee ("Only landlords and investors gain from rising property prices", September 16).

Over the past few years, wealthy investors have come to Hong Kong and bought flats.

This has led to property prices and rents rising to levels that few can afford. It is virtually impossible for the less well-off to be able to purchase even a small flat.

This inability to own your own home affects all ages, including young citizens. It has a very negative impact, leading to dissatisfaction and conflict in society.

Hong Kong people must realise that the wide disparity between rich and poor has become a serious problem in the city.

Something must be done about it before it gets worse.

Edwin Chung, Yau Tong

Security laws make region less secure

Scuffles broke out in the Japanese parliament earlier this month when the debate began over controversial security bills.

Despite physical intervention by opposition MPs, the bills were passed.

This debate attracted worldwide attention as the new legislation will allow Japan to expand its military role overseas.

I share the concerns expressed by the media in China, that this law is not just about self-defence. It shows a greater ambition on the part of Japan.

We should not forget the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere which led to Japanese aggression in Asia before and during the second world war.

Japan's post-war constitution bars it from using military forces to resolve conflicts except in cases of self-defence. The new law will allow it to defend its allies overseas even when it is not under attack. This violates its post-war constitution and pacifist stance.

I am worried that this government could push Japan to the brink of war.

There are potential flashpoints, such as the territorial dispute with China over sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

As a pacifist, I support the many Japanese citizens who mounted protests because they were opposed to these bills being passed by parliament.

I do not understand why the Japanese government would want to do something that could push it closer to conflict.

Hugo Chu Lik-hang, Kwai Chung 

Cut elderly patients' waiting times

I am glad that with its various welfare policies, the government gives priority in the case of elderly citizens. However, I would like to focus on medical care.

Hong Kong's public hospitals are of very high standard.

However, there is one snag. There are often very long waiting lists to get an appointment to see a doctor at one of these hospitals.

It is particularly bad if you need to have certain diagnostic tests and other tests such as a colonoscopy, CT scan and echo-cardiography.

These are routinely done for elderly patients as part of a screening programme.

Any delay in diagnosis and treatment may aggravate the disease, especially with elderly patients who have very limited immunity.

I would suggest that when such appointments are requested for patients on the recommendation of a physician, hospital authorities should give priority to elderly citizens.

This would curtail the waiting period and help ease their condition if they are already feeling ill.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay