Letters to the editor, April 28, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 3:49pm

Traffic jams will ease if police pounce

In her letter of April 16 (“ERP system would help traffic flow”), Christy Chan said Hong Kong should follow the example of Singapore and London, where electronic road pricing was successfully introduced. I’d like to add further information.

First of all, electronic car pricing in London is not as successful as claimed. The most ­recent TomTom congestion ­index ranks London the 16th worst among 174 cities. Singapore was 45th, while Hong Kong was not listed.

According to figures available on the internet, Hong Kong’s car density is in fact much lower than Singapore’s – 63 per 1,000 people for us, compared to Singapore’s 100 per 1,000 – on a smaller territory. In fact, one should analyse what causes traffic congestion, instead of simply blaming the number of car owners. The cause of traffic jams in Hong Kong’s Central area is obvious: non-enforcement of existing regulations by the police.

Here are a few simple, effective and income-producing recommendations to ease traffic flow. One, get the police to do their work, prosecuting without warning all vehicles waiting on double-lane roads, double yellow lines and stopped on yellow crossings. Second, install parking meters or allow parking in low-traffic one-way side-streets, as has been introduced in many cities. Third, shift warden duties from monitoring parking meters to working in jammed areas. Fourth, help bus companies to better plan their timing and routes.

Many people find it difficult to understand why police do not enforce the law since every one driving in Hong Kong knows the exact locations where illegal parking creates jams, for example, around Prince’s Building, Wyndham Street and Queen’s Road.

The government could install “parking cameras” that are now successfully operating in France. The system issues fines automatically without discrimination. Cameras could also take pictures of vehicles blocking traffic on yellow crossings.

Electronic road pricing will cost a lot to implement and administer, and will only shift the problem to other areas. Just imagine the result of restricting access to a vital part of our small Hong Kong Island – it would inflate the traffic in the other parts.

Having the police do their duties will boost revenue, till the delinquents learn the rules.

Kenneth Chan, Aberdeen

Localists seek rich rewards of office

Alex Lo is, of course, right in seeing through the pro-independence movement in Taiwan (“Reality bites the talk of independence”, April 23). He said: “Once in power they will have to soften and adopt a more pragmatic stance towards Beijing. But that’s not something our young radical localists would appreciate or understand.”

I would like to add one observation and one cynical guess. One is that the localists in Hong Kong will never form the Hong Kong government, as the chief executive has to be appointed by Beijing. So, unlike the Taiwanese pro-independence party, they will not soften their stance because they don’t have to practise what they preach.

My cynical guess is this. Under the rather odd electoral arrangements that elect members of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong – namely, a system of proportional representation with large constituencies – a candidate needs no more than 10 per cent of the votes in any constituency to be elected. Once elected, the person gets a monthly salary of more than HK$90,000, an allowance and an end-of-term gratuity.

So let me be cynical: the localists know exactly what they are doing: grab the votes from the extreme end of the political spectrum and laugh all the way to the bank. Looking at the new cars that are driven in and out of the Legco car park, perhaps I am not that cynical after all.

Chow Pak Chin, Mong Kok

Don’t confuse tornado with dust devil

I refer to the report, “Chinese boy lifted four metres into air as mini tornado hits school sports day” (April 21). This was a dust devil – not a tornado. I’ve seen many dust devils in the US where I live; even drove through one in Los Angeles in a convertible with the top down, my seat belt on, and the chin strap of my hat secured. The dust devil was as wide as the street. Most are narrower.

Our National Weather Service surely has detailed information about both tornadoes and dust devils.

Jean SmilingCoyote, Chicago, US

It’s true: brown bread is better than white

In the book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan said, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” This is an eye-catching eating rule, but does the colour of food matter when it comes to our health?

Our blood glucose level ­increases after we eat food containing carbohydrates. Different types of food can raise our blood glucose at different rates. Generally, the higher the glycemic ­index, the faster the blood glucose level is increased after ­consumption.

Generally, food with more dietary fibre has a lower glycemic index. Soluble dietary fibre can combine with water to slow down the food movement in our digestive tract, while insoluble dietary fibre acts as a barrier to prevent carbohydrates from being in contact with digestive enzymes. Both types of fibre decrease the rate of carbohydrate digestion and absorption in our body. Examples of carbohydrate-rich food with high fibre content include pumpernickel, red or brown rice and rolled or steel-cut oatmeal.

Some recent studies have found that eating food with a high glycemic index may increase the risk of developing cancers. Although the relationship is not well explained, having food with a low glycemic index can reduce the risk of many other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Brown rice and wholewheat bread are definitely better food choices than refined silky white rice and soft buns.

Carmen W. H. Chan, professor, Martin M. H. Wong, research assistant, Mary M. Y. Waye, adjunct professor, Nethersole School of Nursing, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Small house policy unfair to women

I note that Dr York Chow’s tenure at the Equal Opportunities Commission has ended with the glorious prosecution of a bar owner guilty of the iniquitous practice of “Ladies’ Night”, whereby women are offered cheaper drinks than men. A magnificent victory, and I wonder how much this has cost the Hong Kong taxpayer.

Meanwhile, just a few miles north of Dr Chow’s palatial former offices exists the most blatant and disgraceful piece of discrimination against women in the entire Western world. I refer of course to the policy where, in the New Territories, only men are eligible to receive the government handout known as the small house policy.

I presume that the Equal Opportunities Commission was too busy chasing down bar owners to notice this.

Either the Hong Kong government admits that it couldn’t care less abut discrimination and disbands the commission or it takes the matter seriously.

Trevor Hughes, Pok Fu Lam

Show some respect to all workers

One day, when passing by a construction site, I overheard a mother tell her daughter: “If you want to have a better life when you grow up, you must work hard and enter university. If not, you will be just like the people who work in the construction site.”

In our world, jobs are placed at different levels. All parents seemingly want their children to be either a doctor or a lawyer. By contrast, bus drivers, construction workers and other manual labourers are looked down upon. I do not think it’s right. People who do such jobs deserve respect because they are the foundation of our society. Without them, we cannot take buses and we do not have houses to live in. We should respect and thank these silent heroes.

Susanna Leung Tsz Shan, Tseung Kwan O

Back up the green talk with some action

Reading about the overuse of air conditioners in Hong Kong makes me wonder how many people really care about the environment.

Although it seems that more and more people participate in global environmental activities, I find many people only “talk” about being environmentally friendly without actually taking action. For example, whenever Earth Hour looms, many people encourage others to join. However, how many of those people actually switch off the lights in their daily life?

Rainie Yuen, Tseung Kwan O