Letters to the Editor, October 26, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 12:01am

Upholding scientific robustness

I refer to the joint letter of Professor Alexis Lau and Professor Bill Barron ("Air quality will suffer if bureaucrat heads department again", October 16) and feel obliged to dispel a misunderstanding.

"Be faithful to science" is the core value of the Environmental Protection Department. The dedication of our colleagues to air quality monitoring is testimony to it.

We have made substantial investments and enhancements to our air quality monitoring network in order to generate the necessary evidence for formulating the air quality management strategy. The chemical speciation programme for PM2.5 which started in 2000 is part of this evidence-gathering effort.

It is regrettable that our recent attempt to streamline the chemical speciation programme has been misconstrued. We recently consulted with the air science academics who are major users of data collated from the programme on our findings and said there was scope to adjust the monitoring stations without adversely affecting the data representativeness.

Unfortunately, some have mistaken the consultation as a notification of a foregone decision and speculated on the basis of the decision making.

In a meeting we held with Professor Lau and other academics, on October 19, a consensus was reached on the scope of streamlining the PM2.5 chemical speciation programme while upholding its scientific robustness and usefulness.

We would like to assure your readers that the department has adopted a professional, scientific, evidence-based approach in undertaking its duties for environmental protection and will continue to do so.

Dr Shermann Fong, principal environmental protection officer (air science), Environmental Protection Department

HK should stick to what it's good at

I refer to the interview with City University president Professor Kuo Way ("To excel, our universities need to compete better", October 19).

He wants the government to invest more money in technology and innovation. Even if it did that, it could not compete with countries in the region and their companies like Tencent, Baidu and Samsung.

I think Hong Kong should stick to what it is good at. Providing incentives for students to study innovation and technology-related disciplines would not give us a competitive edge over these countries.

Hong Kong is famous for its financial services and tourism sectors. The former increases the wealth gap in the city, the latter can help to reduce it.

When tourist numbers increase, the service sector hires more people. This provides job opportunities for the middle class and people on lower incomes. At the moment, a strong Hong Kong dollar compared to the yuan, and anti-mainland sentiment, has led to fewer visitors, but this can change, especially once tensions between mainlanders and locals are defused.

Hong Kong can also do more to attract tourists from Japan, Taiwan and Korea. We should not depend too much on mainland visitors. We should be trying harder to attract tourists from all over the world.

We should not try to diversify. This is a small territory. It would be a bad idea to attempt to emulate the likes of Korea or the mainland.

Lingmin Li, Hung Hom

Make luggage ban apply to all passengers

I refer to the report "Government asked MTR to enforce ban on big bags" (October 15).

I support the government's action.

MTR staff have been using their discretion when it comes to allowing some oversized luggage onto trains.

If clear regulations are established, then a standard rule can be applied across the entire network and it will be easy for staff to follow. In that way, people will no longer be able to claim that staff are practising double standards.

A ban, once it is imposed, must be strict. Once people have a clear idea of the rules then hopefully they will not break them.

People need to understand why a size restriction has to be imposed.

Having huge bags and other kinds of bulky luggage on MTR trains is very disruptive for other passengers.

They take up a lot of space in what are often already crowded carriages.

It is especially bad during peak hours when on most lines carriages are packed to capacity.

In such a situation, passengers could risk being injured.

Strict enforcement of regulations is the best option for the MTR Corp and can help reduce the risk of injuries.

Lam Cheuk-see, Yau Yat Chuen 

Get driving licence and become donor

I have a simple idea for the Hong Kong government to promote organ donation here.

As soon as any resident obtains a Hong Kong driver's licence, they should be required to fill in a form at the time of receiving their licence, saying if they: do not want to donate; want to donate any/all viable organs, or if they do want to donate they can specify which organs.

It might be the easiest way to go about it and easy to track, as your Hong Kong identity card is your licence number.

At least some of the population would be targeted for this very important service.

Nancy Ferriman, Happy Valley 

More efficient use of available land is feasible

I refer to the letter by Carson Leung Hon-yiu ("Reclamation would not be the answer", October 19).

I agree with your correspondent who states that reclamation is not a feasible solution in order to ease Hong Kong's housing problem.

First of all, there is the environmental issue that reclamation projects are harmful to marine life.

Such projects have reduced the population of Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong waters.

When it comes to dealing with our housing crisis, we should be looking beyond reclamation and focusing on inappropriate land use. Poor use of available land has been a common problem in Hong Kong.

We are told that there is insufficient land to meet the housing needs of residents, and yet we have private clubs with large spaces such as Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling. Its courses occupy 170 hectares.

A lot of apartment blocks are built that are luxury developments and are unaffordable for the vast majority of the population. These are being constructed on precious land that could be used for public housing. When a luxury block goes up, it does nothing to ease the housing problems in Hong Kong.

The government should be thinking outside the box and coming up with ways to ensure more efficient utilisation of land to ensure that more units of affordable housing can be provided.

Lum Chi-lok, Tseung Kwan O 

Stress strongly linked to long hours in office

Standard working hours legislation has been a controversial topic in Hong Kong following the introduction of a statutory minimum wage law.

Until now, Hong Kong has had no legislation regarding maximum and normal working hours. One survey showed that the average weekly working hours of full-time employees in Hong Kong is 54.6 hours. They work more than 2,000 hours a year, which is 1,000 hours more than workers in Paris.

Opponents of a law say it is not necessary and would reduce economic efficiency. Supporters of a law argue that it would reduce the risk of accidents caused by fatigue brought on by a long working day.

Many countries have such legislation, such as France, Japan and Australia, and I would support it. Hong Kong is an international city and we cannot be left behind.

People who have to face these long hours tend to be at greater risk of suffering from work-related stress, because they are under so much pressure. This is why Hong Kong scores less than a lot of other cities in surveys on happiness.

With fewer hours, people are able to relax. Their physical and mental health will improve. Overall we would see a happier society.

I appreciate the point employers make that it would increase costs, but we cannot ignore the welfare of our workforce. Hong Kong enjoys its prosperity because of their efforts. The government should be considering the needs of citizens and in particular their health and welfare.

A standard working hours law will definitely enhance their quality of life.

Lucy Lui Lo-hei, Tsuen Wan

Going online at snail's pace in Tuen Mun

It is difficult to sympathise with the residents of Lamma and south Lantau who have internet speeds down to two megabits per second ("Digital divide", October 17).

On the morning of October 18, I recorded a download speed of just 0.16Mbps in Tuen Mun West (Butterfly beach) using a cellular dongle.

By Wednesday, this had increased to 0.43Mbps. Opening and sending emails has become a hit-and-miss affair and Tuen Mun is not even located on an island. I agree with "Lamma Gung". As in Lamma, the situation has also not improved in the past 15 years that I have been based in Tuen Mun.

It is difficult to understand how these very low speeds still exist, particularly in view of the major infrastructure developments taking place in this area.

Hong Kong still has a long way to go if it expects to be considered an international centre for modern technology.

Michael Baxter, Tuen Mun