Letters to the Editor, February 11, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 4:27pm

Take a political stand, but not by rioting

I accept that using the word riot to describe the events that ­unfolded on the first day of the Lunar New Year might be controversial.

However, although I was not there, I think it was an appropriate way to describe what happened.

I totally agree with Alex Lo that the rioters should be brought to justice (“Read riot act to thugs on Mong Kok streets”, February 10). Innocent people were injured and public property was damaged in acts of vandalism. The safety of citizens was put at risk and this should not be tolerated.

The riot showed the depth of feeling in Hong Kong. There is deep resentment against the government. But no matter how disappointed people are with the administration this was not the right way to respond.

While we may sometimes feel powerless and think the ­economic future looks gloomy, and while political change may be difficult to achieve, it is not impossible. Those of us who feel the Hong Kong government is not up to par need to offer good alternatives.

However, do people really believe that pulling up bricks from the road and throwing them at police, setting fires and damaging public property, is going to bring us any closer to coming up with a good candidate for the next election for chief executive?

We should think back to previous generations in Hong Kong which persevered despite encountering numerous obstacles. The affluence and freedoms we enjoy today are thanks to their contributions to society.

Chloe Tang Hoi-lam, Tuen Mun

Brazil should target hygiene to combat Zika

The spread of the Zika virus in Brazil has raised concerns among citizens in that country, especially pregnant women, because of the possible link to birth defects.

And this virus is not just a ­problem in Brazil – the ­mosquito which carries it breeds in other parts of the world so this is becoming a global issue.

In Brazil there are a lot of breeding grounds for the ­mosquito that infects people. I feel the government should be trying to do more to contain the spread of the outbreak as it ­appears to be spreading at an alarming pace.

Some pregnant women are so worried that they have resorted to illegal abortions in Brazil where abortion is not ­allowed in most cases.

The country’s health ­ministry must act more effectively. Improved hygiene can ­reduce the breeding grounds [such as stagnant water] where mosquito populations can grow rapidly.

Other countries are going to have to pay attention to what is happening in Brazil.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po

Factories need upgrading to beat pollution

One of the reasons smog is such a problem in parts of China is corruption.

Factories are allowed to ­ignore regulations meant to ­reduce emissions, because they are protected by local authorities. Even if they breach anti-pollution regulations they will often escape having to pay any fines.

Because of this lax attitude many factory owners just ignore the damage they are doing to the environment.

The central government must recognise this is a problem and deal with it if it wants to see a reduction in air pollution.

It could implement policies encouraging factory owners to aim for high energy efficiency and machinery which lowers emissions.

The government could offer to sell this machinery aimed at ensuring cleaner emissions to factory owners at a discount. Or it could lend money at low ­interest rates so that the owners and managers could clean up their plants.

If these schemes were ­successful then the plant owners could encourage people ­managing other factories to join up and so cut pollution levels.

The government would have to ensure these cleaner factory projects were closely monitored. Also, factories which ­continue to ignore anti-pollution regulations must face stiff punishment.

A scheme like this could cost the government a lot of money, but it is worth going ahead with it as it benefits the health of mainland citizens.

Also, the government could ensure that because sufficient discounts would be given to ­factory owners they would not have to pass the extra cost of buying new machinery to the consumer.

Nancy Lam, To Kwa Wan

MTR staff just doing right thing on safety

Recently there have been more confrontations between passengers and MTR Corporation staff over its regulations banning bulky luggage (“Attacks on MTR staff up as luggage rules spark clashes”, January 22).

Rules not allowing people to take on oversized luggage exist to protect passengers as they can be hurt if these items are on board a carriage and the train makes a sudden stop.

I am sure many people have had the same experience as me when we have been hit on the legs by these cases.

The regulations are therefore a safety requirement and should be obeyed.

If there are individuals who disagree with the regulations they can always write a letter of complaint to the MTR Corp. They should not be arguing with staff and provoking aggressive confrontations when these ­employees are ­simply doing their jobs and implementing the regulations.

Attacking an MTR employee is not going to lead to any of these rules being changed.

Kelly Kwok, Yau Yat Chuen

Put spotlight on risks of high sugar intake

I refer to the article by Jeanette Wang (”The bitter truth”, ­January 18).

I agree that people have to be more aware of adding too much sugar to their diets because of the health risks involved, ­including diabetes and heart and liver disease.

However, the problem is that there is so much free sugar in products we consume every day, such as soft drinks and snacks. That makes it difficult for adults and children to stick to the daily intake of ­sugar as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The WHO advises that adults and children should ­reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10 per cent of their total energy intake, but I think few people are aware of this recommendation and would have trouble achieving this goal.

The Hong Kong government should do more to try and raise people’s level of awareness about the need to cut back on sugar through multi-media advertising.

It should also pass legislation to force manufacturers to ­reduce the sugar content in their products.

People need to have a greater awareness of health issues and have more regular check-ups. We should all think more about the amount of sugar in our diets and start reducing our intake.

Kitty Lui Sze-ki, Tseung Kwan O

TSA has failed and must be scrapped

I think the Territory-wide ­System Assessment (TSA) should be scrapped, despite proposals to retain it but have a simplified version of the test.

We have all known about the problems associated with the TSA for some time, but things have not improved and so I think the Education Bureau has no choice but to scrap it.

I understand the original ­intention of the TSA was a good one, to show a school’s strengths and weaknesses and the key areas that needed changing.

However, it has lost its ­original purpose and has ­resulted in children having to endure endless tutoring and drilling sessions.

The problem was that bureau officials were visiting schools and asking them to ­improve their TSA results, which put pressure on teachers. ­Although the TSA paper is not that diffcult, schools still felt under pressure. Parents also had to spend more time doing practice exercises with their children. This meant they had less quality time to spend with them and their children had less time to relax and play.

I do not think the TSA served its original purpose as it failed to accurately reflect the progress being made by schools. Despite its intentions, it met with stiff opposition from parents who were angry with the stress their sons and daughters were feeling.

The bureau must come up with other ways of assessing a school’s performance and ­finding what improvements need to be made.

Arina Ip Hiu-ting, Tseung Kwan O

Better urban planning key to land shortage

I refer to the letter by Kaylie Lai Tsz-ki (“Country parks necessary to help us relax”, January 22).

I agree with your correspondent that the government should not build homes in areas which lead to the destruction of parts of our country parks. As Ms Lai pointed out, these country parks offer Hongkongers a chance to get some release from stressful lives.

Most citizens work long hours compared to developed societies elsewhere in the world. The country parks help them to relax and enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends. Also, building homes in parks would result in many trees being felled and trees help to reduce levels of air pollution in Hong Kong.

Once a decision is made to build homes in areas of the parks, unique ecosystems are lost forever. Building more homes will not solve Hong Kong’s housing problems if high prices make them unaffordable for many citizens.

Better urban planning can help ease the shortage of land. The government can implement more renewal projects in urban districts such as Yau Tsim Mong and Sham Shui Po.

Janice Yuen, Sai Kung