Letters to the Editor, October 24, 2015
Tourism sector has become stuck in a rut
Tourism is an important industry in Hong Kong, and has played a crucial role in the city's economic development for many years.
However, the sector seems to have got stuck in a rut and is in need of a transformation.
In order to attract more high-spending tourists, Hong Kong needs to develop eco-tourism.
We have country parks, geoparks and a beautiful coastline that would appeal to many visitors from abroad.
More people in the West have become interested in environmental issues. By developing eco-tourism, we add diversity to this sector and it is another form of environmental protection.
We also need to further develop cultural tourism and publicise abroad some of our unique events, such as the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Tai Hang's Fire Dragon Dance and Dragon Boat competition. If more overseas visitors are attracted to these events, it can help with the preservation of Hong Kong culture.
What is important is that we should not depend too much on groups of tourists from just one country.
We need to explore how the tourism sector can change and attract visitors from all over the world.
Yeung Sze-nga, Yau Yat Chuen
Time for cull of monkeys is long overdue
I am part of a regular group of hikers and one day last month, we were discussing where to go.
Someone suggested Kam Shan Country Park, but we decided against it, because it had been ruined by plagues of monkeys.
We were not going to do a long walk so opted for Eagle's Nest to Beacon Hill, fairly sure that there would be few if any monkeys.
Well there weren't to begin with, but on returning to the Piper's Hill car park, not only had the plague swarmed across Tai Po Road but some citizens, in direct contravention of the posters threatening fines for feeding monkeys, were doing just that.
A member of our group was attacked for his orange, and we had to haul the beast off his back. On remonstrating with the feeders, we were told to go elsewhere as this was the regular feeding spot especially at weekends. Where were the country park rangers? Has anyone ever been fined? Is the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department even aware of this?
The department is failing in one of its missions, which is to ensure safety in country parks.
Feeble efforts at ensnaring and sterilising these vermin have done nothing to slow down the population explosion.
Are officials waiting for some poor child with stupid parents to be mauled before some firm action is taken?
As a citizen and regular hiker in Hong Kong's wonderful countryside, I have to ask why the department does not get to grips with this issue and authorise a cull, preferably of all, but certainly of most of these destructive, even dangerous, pests.
C. J. Pooley, Kennedy Town
Tutorial classes have a downside
Some Hong Kong students sign up for too many tutorial classes.
This may result in better academic results, but they sacrifice other things, such as enjoying their youth and spending more time with their family.
We need to ask how necessary these tutorial classes really are.
After the whole day of lessons in school, these youngsters have to try and concentrate at a tutorial college. This is in addition to the assignments and tests they have to do as part of their school homework.
With such a busy schedule, there is no time for many of them to take a break from their hectic school life.
This can have an adverse psychological impact as they feel that life has become monotonous. It is therefore difficult for them to develop a love of studying.
The media does not help, often exaggerating the advantages of signing up for tutorial classes. The colleges say they can help youngsters get good grades and sometimes exaggerate the accomplishments of their tutors.
I am not denying these classes have their advantages, but youngsters and their parents need to reflect on the real meaning of studying and ask if these classes are right for them.
Helen So, Sha Tin
Chance to show humility squandered
The recent bizarre statements by the chief executive and chief secretary supporting and directing senior officials not to drink water in lead-affected estates sounds like something from a dark off-beat comedy. Indeed I thought I had misheard the news.
In cities the world over, officials have made big shows of drinking (drinking) water, eating food or riding on rehabilitated transport. It's a great chance to show confidence, humility and concern for the people - traits often lacking in the SAR government.
Where else in the world could the government oversee poisoning of water in public housing, hold no one responsible and then claim humiliation for being asked to publicly try the fruits (water) of its remediation efforts?
If such an act is too humbling or humiliating for our senior officials, how can we not despair for the standard of governance in Hong Kong?
Patrick Gilbert, Sha Tin
We cannot ignore nursing shortage
There have been a number of medical blunders in public hospitals and I wonder if some have been related to staff shortages.
The shortage of nurses is a problem in hospitals worldwide, even in Singapore.
One nurse has to care for quite a lot of patients and they often have to work long hours, beyond their designated shift.
If nurses are exhausted, then there must surely be a greater risk that there will be a blunder. Sometimes the consequences are not that bad, but sometimes they are serious.
The government cannot turn a blind eye to this shortage. If the workload increases and nurses are exhausted and stressed out, then more of them will leave the public sector. We could see more blunders happening more frequently.
The government has to provide more incentives to tempt people to choose nursing as a career. Youngsters need to be assured that they will have a number of career options within the nursing profession.
Nurses' working conditions must be improved, with caps on the amount of overtime they have to do.
Rainbow Leung Wai-yu, Tseung Kwan O
Scrap bag levy as soon as possible
I am writing to express my great dissatisfaction with the government's plastic bag levy which, in my view, is nothing more than an unnecessary nuisance for people.
Many would probably agree there is no consistent policy across shops, wet markets and supermarkets on whether to charge their customers 50 cents for a plastic bag.
Some give them away to customers for their convenience.
Some shops put purchased items, for example, T-shirts, in a plastic bag free for their customers simply because it makes sense to prevent brand new clothes from being mixed with other items in a handbag or shopping bag.
The issue is not about money but about sensible customer service.
No one disputes the merit of using fewer plastic bags. However, the way to do it is not by cutting down on the supply of bags, through imposing a levy.
For the sake of consumers' convenience and choice, shops and supermarkets should either provide more paper bags instead or be allowed to make plastic bags available without causing trouble by asking for a surcharge every time.
Charging people is an outdated, unreasonable move.
You change human behaviour by education and not by subjecting them to the nuisance of being asked whether to pay or not, especially when the levy is so tiny.
If a customer doesn't want a plastic bag, he will automatically decline any offer of it.
I hope many will join in my call for the policy to be scrapped as soon as possible.
Y. Yeung, Sai Ying Pun
Facebook page brings police closer to public
I think the new Facebook page set up by the Hong Kong Police Force is an easy way to reach the public.
Its aim is to enhance public communications through social media.
This Facebook page can greatly increase the public's understanding as well as support for the police.
It also helps police to find out what the public thinks about the force and collect the opinions of citizens. It can receive comments from people and reply promptly.
This can help clear up any misunderstanding between police and citizens quickly.
It is also an efficient way for the force to get across its crime prevention campaigns.
It can provide information about incidents almost as soon as they have happened, using this page.
However, it will not reach everyone as there are still people who do not have access to the internet.
Chan Hei-lam, Ma On Shan