Letters to the Editor, October 29, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, 4:26pm

Construct new rail link to Lantau

On Friday evening problems on the Tung Chung and Airport Express lines resulted in much chaos for travellers ("Bridge closure brings transport chaos", October 24).

Announcements in Central station were mostly unintelligible - too loud or too quiet, and only in Cantonese, then English.

Putonghua-speaking travellers were left in total confusion about how to travel to the airport.

I was stuck on Tsing Yi station platform waiting for over one hour for more information, and everyone was very confused.

I took the MTR back to Central, got on a very crowded ferry to Mui Wo, then an overloaded bus homewards.

Many air travellers were on the ferry also, worried about missing flights out of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong MTR system doesn't appear well co-ordinated in case of emergencies.

Concise, accurate information isn't available on any website, it seems.

MTR station communications should be much improved, with screens clearly displaying information, instead of distorted PA systems.

If the only link to the airport for trains and by road over Tsing Ma Bridge is cancelled, what can air travellers do?

Maybe it's time to build a new MTR link from Kennedy Town to Mui Wo, Lantau.

This would require much better bus and taxi systems on Lantau, so passengers could easily get from the MTR to the airport.

R. Stokes, Lantau

Launch ferry route from city to airport

Given that Hong Kong is an advanced city, I am surprised that the government cannot have a ferry service from Central/Kowloon to the airport.

We have a very efficient road and rail transport network. Generally that would suffice in any city. However, the airport relies on bridges to be connected to the rest of Hong Kong.

The shortcomings of this link were exposed on Friday when an accident led to Tsing Ma Bridge being closed for about two hours. That caused a lot of disruption to passengers and airlines.

If we had a ferry service from Central and Kowloon, that would make the airport more accessible in situations like these.

Also it's an additional mode of transport. The infrastructure is in place. We have ferries going to many destinations and already a route from the airport to Macau. So why not create an airport to city service.

Cyrus Doomasia, Tung Chung 

Time to tighten rules for food safety checks

There have been a number of food poisoning cases recently in Hong Kong, which highlighted the importance of ensuring food safety here.

The city is more vulnerable because we have to import virtually all our food, mostly from the mainland. Prices are low, but the quality of the food can sometimes be poor and some farmers will spray a lot of chemicals on their crops.

I think the government needs to draw up a tighter food regulation system, enhancing monitoring of imported products. We need more food inspection centres and additional staff who are suitably trained.

There has to be more education on the mainland. Authorities there should encourage farmers to adopt more environmentally-friendly farming methods and reduce dependence on chemicals.

Also, the mainland has to curb corruption in this sector which has led to tainted food scandals.

Marco Tsang, Sha Tin

We can learn from first lady's initiative

I refer to Philip Yeung's article on falling English standards in Hong Kong ("Peng's glory, HK's shame", October 3).

He was referring to President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US last month when his wife, Peng Liyuan , gave a speech in English. Perhaps her speech made some Hongkongers realise that having citizens who have a good command of English is essential if we want to maintain our competitiveness.

We must ask why standards are falling. One problem is that many Hongkongers lack the confidence to speak English. In some schools students have few opportunities to practise. They may only have a lesson with a native English-speaking teacher once a week.

Also, so much emphasis is placed on exams and the spoon-feeding method of teaching, that some pupils lose the motivation to learn English.

Some public notices display a poor standard of English when they should lead by example. And sometimes notices are in Chinese, with no English translation, which leaves a very bad impression.

Another reason for the deteriorating English standard among Hongkongers is related to Hong Kong being returned to China with the handover in 1997.

It could be seen by some as part of the process of decolonisation described by Chen Zuoer , former deputy minister of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

However, surely there is room for English in this post-colonial era.

Would it really be appropriate for this city to make Putonghua the first language ahead of English?

It remains to be seen whether Hong Kong will remain an international city. However, I do hope more Hongkongers will take the initiative to learn English and to practise speaking it.

Matthew Sham Ka-ching, Sha Tin

Mainstream schools still have the edge

Some correspondents have pointed out the advantages of home-schooling.

They have contrasted it with the flaws in mainstream schools with their spoon-fed education system. However, while that is certainly the case I have doubts about how popular home-schooling could become in a city like Hong Kong.

The priority for many students is to get a place at a local university and they have to do well enough in public exams.

This involves practising past papers and doing mock exams. They need to acquire the necessary exam skills and are much more likely to achieve this in a mainstream school rather than a home-school setting.

They need an experienced and qualified teacher and a strong database, otherwise it will be very difficult for them to get a good exam result.

I also think that in a local school environment youngsters learn about self-discipline, resilience and good time management, because they have such a heavy workload. Again this helps with the public exam.

There are not that many home-schooled children in the city so these youngsters will not get nearly as much interaction with their peers as pupils in mainstream schools.

Ariaanne Fung Hiu-tung, Kwun Tong

Curb 'mobile maniacs' on MTR trains

It is becoming a growing irritation to find yourself blocked or slowed down in MTR stations by fellow passengers chatting on their smartphone or checking something on the screen.

This is a common occurrence inside trains and on escalators.

Many of these mobile maniacs pay so much attention to their smartphones even when they are about to board that you are forced to walk behind them at a snail's pace towards the carriage door.

This lengthens the time it takes you to use the network.

Given that many other passengers will also be affected in this way, it must be having an adverse effect on the efficiency of the MTR network. The MTR Corporation needs to address this problem. Food and drinks are banned in MTR trains and this has helped to keep hygiene standards high. Similar steps should be considered for the use of mobile phones during rush hours.

If a lot of people are using their smartphones with their arms extended in a very crowded compartment during the rush hour this leaves less room for other passengers.

If they can keep their smartphones in their bags or pockets when entering and exiting the train, when in crowded carriages, and when using escalators, it would make a big difference. It would help facilitate a smoother flow of passengers.

There would be more space in carriages and queues of people wanting to move onto the train could go at a faster pace.

Amitabh Banerjee, Wan Chai

Bullying issue unlikely to be a major problem

There has been criticism by correspondents of Facebook after its founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that they were working on installing a "dislike" button.

However, I wonder if it would really be as bad as some people have suggested. Critics argue that cyberbullies could abuse the button and consequently bullying online could get a lot worse. I cannot see how a single "dislike" can ruin someone's life. And if an individual sends a "dislike" repeatedly, it is easy to block them.

Other than bullying, people are also concerned about the button supporting negativity. City University London professor Andre Spicer said on CNN that being positive all the time had a downside and that if we do not take a realistic look at problems, "we overlook risks and do stupid things".

YouTube has a dislike button, but bullying does not seem to be an issue.

I do not think a dislike button on Facebook will have the devastating effect some people fear.

James Wong Chun-ho, Tseung Kwan O