Letters to the Editor, December 30, 2015
More action needed to clean up air pollution
The causes of the dreadful pollution in Beijing are well known, such as the exhaust emissions from the millions of vehicles in the capital.
Also, more fossil fuels are burned in the winter as residents try to keep warm. This pollution is disrupting the lives of all citizens when a high smog alert signal is in force. Most outdoor activities are halted and schools are closed.
Closing a school for a few days is a short-term effect of the city’s pollution. I am more concerned with long-term threats to these children, such as respiratory and heart diseases which are becoming more common in Beijing. If no action is taken to clean up the air the government’s medical costs will soar.
The authorities should offer substantial discounts to residents on public transport systems, to persuade more people not to drive cars. A discount system would be easy to implement and officials can consult the MTR Corporation which has a variety of discounts. People would have to travel a minimum number of times before the cheaper fare kicked in.
Also, tough restrictions have to be imposed on private cars allowed onto the roads with, for example, drivers only allowed into designated zones three days a week. Programmes restricting cars are already up and running in some mainland cities.
Yuen Ka-ki, Yau Yat Chuen
Beijing’s smog poses serious health risk
I found it alarming earlier this month when the authorities in Beijing raised the pollution alert to its highest level of red.
I find it difficult to imagine how the capital’s residents are able to deal with the thick smog.
When I see pictures of the city, the sky is filled with this heavy smog and of course it raises concerns about the risk to residents of contracting respiratory diseases and various forms of cancer. The bad air is certainly raising the mortality rate in Beijing. When the red alert is raised, companies are urged to introduce flexible working hours and schools are closed.
However, the authorities in Beijing must recognise that there is a need to do more to deal with this serious air pollution problem. Prevention is always better than cure.
Christy Yeung Ho-ying, Tseung Kwan O
Compromise formula for new pension
An ideal universal pension scheme should not exclude anyone qualified under the definition of a senior citizen as it is applicable to Hong Kong.
Every person in that category should be assured of a minimum old age pension irrespective of their financial status, if they opt to receive the pension.
The scheme proposed in the study commissioned by the government headed by Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun, will assure that, but the other proposed pension [as part of the public consultation exercise] will not be universal.
The aim should be for a compromise which would provide a multi-level universal pension, similar to the current old-age allowances. An alternative could be a scheme which has tiers based on the age of a senior citizen – 65 to 70, 71 to 80 and 81 and above – with provision for a gradual increase in pension depending on one’s age.
I back a referendum with one of the options being a scheme which will cover all eligible senior citizens in Hong Kong.
Swami Vas, Taikoo Shing
Beautiful hike marred by so much rubbish
It’s always nice to find a new hike in Hong Kong but I was stunned at the massive amount of rubbish brazenly dumped around the scenic walk at Sam Mun Tsai, Tai Po.
This path goes towards the Ma Shi Chau Special Area which is of great ecological importance.
The rubbish is a disgrace to the village, district council and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. It beggars belief that such a situation can occur in such a beautiful, natural part of the SAR. I have written to those departments requesting a clean-up.
Hopefully our next generation will be more responsible.
Patrick Gilbert, Sha Tin
Test should be fine-tuned, but not scrapped
As a secondary student I think the only way to resolve the dispute over the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) is for the Education Bureau to promise not to rank schools and not to ask principals why their students have done badly in the TSA test.
People who want the TSA scrapped in primary schools have said it puts too much pressure on the students.
They do get tired from excessive training and preparation for the TSA test.
Pressure is put on school heads and teachers and this filters down and in turn affects the pupils.
Also, I do not think the attitude of Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has been helpful. He has failed to fully consult parents, teachers and students on this issue and has been accused of turning a deaf ear to their concerns.
The TSA should be continued as similar tests are successfully conducted in many developed countries, like Singapore and Britain. They are a good way of gauging the ability of students and the progress they are making.
However, the bureau must guarantee that the results are only used for internal reference for that specific school.
Enoch Wong, Quarry Bay
Always take care to protect your privacy
The problem of phone scams has become serious and police here, on the mainland and abroad have worked together to catch the fraudsters.
People have lost large sums of money to these criminals and I am glad police have taken these cross-border initiatives and have been able to make arrests.
We should all be paying close attention to this issue and we need to be more vigilant.
For example, I have downloaded an app which filters incoming calls. People need to download appropriate apps which protect their privacy.
When we get calls from strangers, we need to take care.
If people do not know the identity of the caller they should be very wary. And if they suspect this could be a call from a fraudster they should contact the police.
Koey Shum Nok-yu, Yau Yat Chuen
Exercise will help students relieve stress
The government has invested a lot of money in sport.
However, many youngsters still do not get enough exercise and this poses a threat to their health. Some parents think physical education lessons in school are simply a waste of time and aiming for academic excellence must take priority. They need to realise the health benefits of doing sport.
Students should be encouraged to exercise more and have a balanced diet. Too many of them eat a lot of fast food.
Physical activity can help students relieve some of the pressure they are under thanks to homework and exams.
Primary and secondary schools should have more PE lessons and the message has to get through to students that these lessons will not hamper but will help their studies.
Cherrie Wan Pui-ying, Kowloon Tong