Letters to the Editor, June 26, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2016, 12:19am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2016, 12:19am

Weather can vary in parts of Hong Kong

I refer to the letter by Jason Ali (“Let down by Observatory’s forecasts”, June 20) regarding the Observatory’s weather forecasts, particularly for June 9 and 10.

I would like to clarify the ­actual weather conditions on these two days.

Our forecast for June 9 was mainly cloudy with showers and a few squally thunderstorms. While the day began with some sunshine, showers and thunderstorms began to affect Hong Kong in the late morning.

More than 10mm of rain fell over the northwestern New Territories, western Lantau and parts of Hong Kong Island.

You could get pretty wet if you were in Yuen Long, where there were more than 50mm of rain. But of course if you were in less-affected places like Kowloon, the western part of Hong Kong and eastern part of Lantau, you would have seen very little rain.

The weather on June 10 was expected to deteriorate through the day as reflected in our forecast issued early that morning: “Mainly cloudy with a few showers. Showers will become more frequent gradually with a few squally thunderstorms.”

Tallying with what was forecast, there were sunny periods and just a few isolated showers to begin with before showers set in shortly before noon.

By noon, as the deteriorating trend had taken place, the ­Observatory updated its forecast to “Mainly cloudy with occasional showers and isolated thunderstorms.”

On that day, more than 10mm of rainfall were recorded at many places.

Rainfall even exceeded 30mm over eastern ­Kowloon and the eastern New Territories and there were also thunderstorms. Again you could get pretty wet if you were in these places.

While Hong Kong is a small place, there can still be significant regional differences in the weather.

We appreciate the importance of the weather forecast to ­outdoor activities. As summer rain can develop very quickly, it may be a good idea for people to also check the weather radar images on our webpage or mobile app ­regularly to see where the rain areas are.

Lee Lap-shun, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Will all park signs switch to Chinese only?

I have just recently started to once again use a country park in Hong Kong.

The Tsing Yi nature trail has new signs erected but only in Chinese. The old signs are in Chinese and English.

Would the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department please explain if this is now the official practice of the government to only place Chinese signs when renewing the signage?

An example of one sign that I had interpreted for me after a run was to tell people to be sure to put out fires when leaving the park.

Does the department ­believe only Chinese people need to be reminded of this ­because the non-Chinese-reading users ­already are aware of this? I think not.

Also, the Tsing Yi park is small and the direction signs, while being inconvenient if people went the wrong way, are not going to cause them to be caught in a dangerous situation with, for example, no water, with not being unable to exit the park.

On the other hand, if this is what is being signed on the ­larger walks such as sections of the MacLehose Trail, it could prove dangerous to tourists if wrong directions are taken.

I would like an official response from the department.

Daniel Davern, Tsing Yi

Talk to elderly about their pension needs

Earlier this year, Chief Secretary for administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government was open to suggestions on the best pension scheme for Hong Kong.

In the city, we will see a third of the population made up of ­people aged 65 or older by 2040. Given that we have an ageing population and the problems that go with it, it is certainly ­important that something is done about retirement protection.

However, I do not see a minor increase of the Old Age Living ­Allowance as offering a solution. How often do you see elderly people in the streets collecting recyclable waste from outside shops and in bins that can be sold? And they will only earn a pittance.

The allowance is not enough to pay for all their basic necessities, such as rent and food.

Therefore, before proposing their future retirement policy, it is very important for officials to go out into the streets, visit those elderly citizens who are living in poverty and talk to them about what they need .

Our senior officials must get out from behind their desks, and out of their offices so that they can see for themselves how these people are living.

Hopefully then, the administration can devise a strategy that meets the needs of this vulnerable section of society when it comes to offering a realistic pension plan.

Keith Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Rethink way to get a place at university

I agree with correspondents who have written about Hong Kong students being under a lot of pressure, even though exams have become easier.

It is often argued that students often learn to get good marks in exams, rather than because they are genuinely interested in a subject.

Schools encourage this attitude by getting students to memorise knowledge. They then use it to answer exam questions, but do they really understand it? Tutorial classes do not necessarily help them really grasp a subject, yet leave them with less time to relax, and this puts them under more pressure.

Also, youngsters doing the Territory-wide System Assessment are hassled by all the exercises they are forced to do. Again, schools put them under pressure.

Given the problems I have described, I think there should be changes to the education ­system in Hong Kong.

I think traditional selection methods to universities should be re-evaluated. We should not just rely on the Diploma of Secondary Education exam results.

Secondary Six pupils could sit an on-campus internal exam.

They could also be allowed to study at a university for, say, six months and have their learning skills and performance appraised by university tutors. Students with the highest grades could become fully-fledged undergraduates.

Also, tutors would have time to tell which youngsters would be really appropriate for a university education.

Samuel Cheng Ka-ho, Sai Kung

We have had enough of bad taxi drivers

Chau Kwok-keung, spokesman for the Anti-Taxi Franchises Concern Group, bemoans that the prospect of a premium taxi service is unfair to them (“Taxi siege set to drive home message against franchises”, June 21).

Perhaps he might wish to be reminded that for years, Hong Kong citizens have had to endure a taxi service that has been wholly unfair to us.

We have to put up with filthy taxis and obnoxious drivers who smoke inside their vehicles, drive with scant regard to safety, have dashboards resembling the bridge of the starship Enterprise, overcharge and refuse fares that don’t suit them.

I doubt many people in Hong Kong will feel any pity for a taxi service that has become one of the worst in Asia.

The arrival of Uber demonstrated that a decent service still exists in our city, but you require decent people to run it. Our taxi drivers are simply not up to the quality Asia’s world city ­demands.

Mark Peaker, The Peak