Letters to the Editor, October 22, 2015
Public will resist opt-out donor scheme
The proposal to introduce an opt-out system for organ donations is a controversial one.
Under such a scheme, you would be considered a potential organ donor unless you made a declaration opting out.
This legislation exists in several countries, including France, Spain and Singapore. It certainly boosts the number of donors and can save more lives.
However, most traditional Chinese are prone to be conservative and will resist this system. Only 2.4 per cent of the population have registered as potential donors in the organ donation register. But one survey has shown that more than 60 per cent would be willing to donate organs after death.
This shows that citizens are beginning to accept the importance of being donors, but a law making it virtually compulsory unless you opt out will cause public discontent.
I think a better option would be for the government to make a special arrangement. When someone goes to get their adult Hong Kong identity card at the age of 18, they should be asked if they are willing to join the scheme.
This allows people to make their own decision as adults instead of it being made by their parents when they are born.
The data showing the option they have chosen would be permanently stored in their smart identity card and in the database of the Hospital Authority.
With this system, the decision made by the individual would be respected and society would benefit as more lives would be saved.
Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin
Organisers of harbour race need rethink
I refer to the report ("Harbour swim chaos: disqualified swimmers complain of poorly managed start as record 2,330 take part", October 18).
The fifth annual New World Harbour Race was held on Sunday morning, and there were complaints about the unfair disqualification of some swimmers for jumping the gun "when they could not hear it properly".
One of those disqualified was a previous champion in one of the categories and said she could not hear the gun, but as other swimmers had already started, she followed.
The race organiser, the Amateur Swimming Association, has admitted there were problems and arrangements would be reviewed.
The organisers have to ensure that, in future, it avoids creating confusion among the competitors. The swimmers must be given clear instructions on when and where to start. They could deploy more staff and use cameras to determine if any competitors have jumped the gun.
This race is popular and is good for the tourism industry. However, improvements must be made, because if overseas competitors feel they have been unfairly disqualified, they may not come back.
Chan Sze-ching, Kowloon Tong
Poor water quality still a problem
I understand that some swimmers expressed concern about the poor quality of the water during the cross-harbour race.
They complained about seeing rubbish such as wood and paper on the surface. This illustrates the need for the government to do more to improve water quality in the harbour.
Unfortunately, some people continue to throw refuse into the sea and exacerbate the problem of water pollution.
I think the organisers of the race should test the water quality beforehand and ensure that it is suitable for people to swim in. Obviously this is a health issue and it is very important.
There were also problems with the start of the event, when some competitors were disqualified, including past champions, because they did not hear the starting gun. This is something the organisers must rectify for next year's race.
Dennis Fan, Tseung Kwan O
Recyclable material ends up in landfills
The revelation that there are few recycling bins at MTR stations has reignited the debate on the progress that is being made with regard to recycling in Hong Kong ("It's high time Hong Kong's MTR cleaned up its act over dearth of recycling bins, green campaigners say", October 1).
While stations on the MTR network have plenty of bins, nearly 3,000, there are only 160 sets of the colour-coded waste separation recycling bins. This is an average of two of these bins at each station. Some people argue that we need more of these bins throughout the city to raise citizens' awareness about the importance of recycling.
However, I think the problem lies with the recycling industry.
The collection of some material for recycling has been suspended, because the business is not lucrative enough. This results in many cleaners mixing recyclable material with ordinary rubbish and it all ends up in our landfills. This means that the efforts to residents who have separated their waste are in vain.
The government needs to introduce its proposed waste charging scheme. This will provide a financial incentive to citizens to reduce volumes of waste at source and therefore raise their levels of awareness. Also, the government must try harder to ensure that the recycling sector can become profitable again.
We all have a responsibility to reduce waste at source.
Fion Sy Hoi-ki, Yau Yat Chuen
MTR should concede this is a bad rule
Those who are not musicians can never understand the close relationship that musicians have with their instruments.
This relationship exists because many players have spent more of their growing-up time practising and performing than they have with their families and friends. This sacrifice is what it takes to be a competent performer.
Musicians should be allowed, even encouraged, to accompany their instruments on public transport, provided this does not directly inconvenience other passengers.
Daily, one can see many instances of giant backpacks, suitcases and trolleys stacked with cartons on almost every train, and MTR regulators seem to be content ignore them as enforcement is difficult.
Sadly, this issue has spotlighted that Hong Kong is all about fast money and dismissive of the practical needs of the artists who entertain and add cultural depth to Hongkongers' lives.
The MTR response has been that its rules must be followed, but when rules are wrong, they should be changed.
Noel Quinlan, North Point
Help students learn about sensible saving
Living in an affluent city like Hong Kong, most children receive pocket money.
Some of them get quite a lot and it may be enough to go out for meals and purchase the latest smartphone.
However, many of them neglect the importance of sound money management.
Young adults are bombarded with adverts offering various loans. They believe that borrowing from banks and using credit cards is convenient. However, they often end up facing a heavy financial burden.
Students are sometimes encouraged to overspend through peer pressure.
Schools have to recognise this can be a serious problem and incorporate the teaching of money management skills into the school curriculum.
They can do this by organising interactive dramas and workshops. There can be mock dramas showing what can be real-life problems. This can make youngsters more aware when they are actually making purchases at retailers.
Parents also have an important role to play. They should set up a bank account for their children so they learn about the importance of saving money and hopefully donating to charity.
I also think the government should look into imposing stricter controls on adverts offering instalment loans.
Joanne Cheng Sze-yu, Lam Tin
Teenagers can gain from youth groups
Some parents do not want their children to join youth groups which wear uniforms.
When they join organisations like the Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps, teenagers can learn new skills that they could not acquire in the classroom. This can help with their personal development.
For example, some of the activities in the corps can enable them to learn problem-solving skills and this can help them as adults to deal with the hurdles they will face in their daily lives. These are things they will not get out of a school textbook.
Some parents are against uniform groups because they see them as a waste of time. They feel the priority should be school studies and exams. But in these organisations, they exercise more and raise their fitness levels and they learn about self-discipline.
Parents need to recognise that prospective employers are not just looking at exam results when choosing the right candidate.
They are searching for other qualities in young people that are just as important as having a good degree.
There may be some disadvantages to joining these groups, but overall I think they do more good than harm. I think teens should be encouraged to join these youth groups.
Roy Cheung, Lam Tin