Letters to the Editor, October 15, 2016
Columbarium car congestion easily averted
Prolonged discussion on both the supply of housing and burial places in Hong Kong still has not led to effective policies being implemented.
A proposal to use an old industrial buildings for a columbarium in Chai Wan has been greeted with public anger over traffic congestion worries during festivals such as Chung Yeung or Ching Ming.
I don’t see this as a great problem. Free shuttle bus services would be effective in keeping traffic flowing. The government or the owners of the industrial building could provide buses for different peak sessions to connect the columbarium and the MTR station nearby. Also, preregistered appointments would help prevent too many visitors at one time and thereby cut the risk of traffic congestion.
Other concerns about safety in the old buildings and the lack of firefighting equipment could easily be overcome. Revitalisation of industrial buildings is already happening, with customised playgrounds for babies and children, fitness centres, even some restaurants. It is not difficult to meet the standards of a columbarium which is not as dangerous as operating a restaurant.
With an increasing population and demand for burial places, converting a building for a columbarium would be smart. Being short-sighted will only aggravate the problem.
Ruby Fon, Sha Tin
Crackdown on illegal flats is the right move
I refer to the report (“Day of anger over living at industrial buildings”, October 4).
Whether the government should crack down on illegal flats in industrial buildings has become a hot topic, with some people believing low-income tenants who live there will be made homeless, while others think the move would reduce the risk of fire fatalities.
I support a crackdown for a few reasons.
Firstly, living in industrial buildings is dangerous. Merchandise stored in different mini-storage facilities can fuel any blaze, especially paper, wood or other flammable items such as furry toys.
The fire systems in some old industrial buildings are far from effective and would not always prevent injury or death. For example, the blaze at a mini-storage facility in Ngau Tau Kok in June killed two firemen and injured their colleagues.
If this fire had broken out in an industrial building where some people lived, how many would have been injured and died?
Flats in industrial buildings, subdividing units and leasing them to home seekers is illegal, so there is no excuse to oppose cracking down. But still there are many illegal flats because of inadequate law enforcement. The government should act and enforce the Buildings Ordinance .
A recent fire in a Cheung Sha Wan industrial building was linked to illegal flats and demonstrates the inadequacies in the enforcement of the law.
As the Institute of Architects chairman Vincent Ng Wing-shun said, the government should provide affected subdivided flat dwellers with affordable alternatives.
If the government gave low-income tenants a choice, such as interim housing and temporary housing subsidies, the homeless problem need not be an issue.
I hope the public can understand the need to clear out illegal flats in industrial buildings.
Vanessa Lee, Kowloon Tong
Students need a positive approach
I refer to the article (“Japanese awarded Nobel Prize for medicine”, October 3).
Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi’s success after so many years of research shows us anything is possible if you don’t give up.
Students in Hong Kong should take note. Nowadays they give up easily, or are even afraid of trying. When they are under pressure, they always think in negative terms and have a pessimistic attitude. Moreover, they easily lose their passion if tasks become difficult. This approach needs to change if they are to become successful in life.
A positive attitude is important. Parents play a crucial role and should always check on how their children are feeling.
Just by asking and allowing time to discuss problems can decrease the pressure they are feeling.
During discussions, students can release their pressure and learn how to think optimistically.
If students have a positive outlook, they will shed fears and have a go. This will stand them in good stead later in life when a positive approach will allow them to at least not give up easily when things are not going smoothly. Schools can also organise talks to reinforce this.
Lydia Woo, Lai Chi Kok
Education best strategy to fight obesity
I refer to your editorial (“Taxing sugar is a political minefield”, October 7).
Some people argue that a sugar tax is the most effective way to force companies to produce healthy food and alleviate the problem of obesity. But, it is politically difficult to introduce as it may raise prices and affect customers and companies in a negative way.
Is sugar the only and main reason for obesity. What about oil, salt and fat? We cannot ban them or introduce more taxes.
All the government needs to do is to provide better education about healthy living styles. Teaching the importance of exercise, the harmful effects of overconsumption of sugar, oil and salt, and need for a balanced diet would help alleviate health problems. Education is key and the government should act.
Carmen Li Ka-man, Yau Yat Chuen
Cut air con use and help save energy
You talk about conserving enernergy in your editorial (“Keep that air con at a sensible level”, October 7).
Public education is important and irreplaceable in trying to minimise energy consumption. The public must be encouraged to reduce air conditioning voluntarily.
Previous campaigns may have been ineffective but they had limited reach. Take Green Sense’s “No Air Con Night” as an example – promotional items for the event were barely seen on streets, in newspapers or on TV. Online promotions missed those who seldom surf the internet or log onto social networking sites. Both online and offline promotions are essential to ensure the message is spread.
In addition to educating the public, the government should lead by example. It is rare to see government offices turning off their air cons on cool days.
Judy Lam, Sha Tin
Little wonder students are pessimistic
I refer to the report (‘‘Students pessimistic about future’’, October 11. As a student, I am pessimistic about the future of Hong Kong.
Firstly, I think there is a lack of job opportunities in Hong Kong.
Many students who graduated from university cannot find a job easily because the older generation are still working. Even if they get a job, the salary is not enough to cover rising costs in the city.
Then there is the politics in Hong Kong. As Hongkongers have different stances on the need for democracy, opinions are sometimes expressed in violent demonstrations, which makes me feel very uneasy.
I feel worried that as the various political camps push their views, they will take more radical action and further tarnish Hong Kong’s image.
Vicky Wong, Sheung Shui