Letters to the Editor, October 16, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 12:19am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 12:18am

Training centre vital for sports development

I can understand the discontent people feel about the government’s proposal to take back the Kitchee soccer training centre and use it for public housing.

This is a quality-of-life issue in this densely populated city which does not have enough flat land suitable for residential use.

Though housing is a vitally important issue, removing sports facilities reduces the land available for recreational ­purposes. It deprives citizens of additional options for getting ­involved in sports.

It is important for more ­people to exercise and have healthier lives and, when sports facilities are removed, it makes for a less liveable city.

This is an important training facility and its loss would be a setback for sports development. With limited resources, Hong Kong is not an ideal place to ­cultivate sporting talent. It does not have the wealth of training facilities that you find in countries like the UK. So, when the Kitchee training centre opened, there was hope it would help with the further development of soccer, leading to a ­raising of standards. This facility at Shek Mun enables more ­systematic training and helps young ­players improve their skills.

I understand policies are needed to deal with the housing problem, but why doesn’t the government instead do more to redevelop old urban areas like Sheung Wan, Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po?

Knocking down old, dilapidated buildings and putting up high-rises can provide more homes and improve these areas. Abandoned industrial buildings can also be redeveloped. The “Sham Tseng Light Housing” project proves this can be done.

Gloria Tse, Tsing Yi

Officials do not understand walkers’ woes

If Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is serious about improving the quality of life in Hong Kong, he should take a careful look at what will ­encourage walking (“Walk the talk, Hong Kong transport ­minister urges conference on city walkability”, October 3).

If he, and his junior staff, ­actually walked round the road layouts they design, they might appreciate the inconveniences they cause.

In some cases, the designs are actually dangerous. Pedestrians need to feel safe, and are easily discouraged by visibly longer routes.

At the road layout modifications for the new Wong Chuk Hang MTR station, I can point out examples of these issues.

Large flower pots and the road camber create a blind spot for pedestrians crossing a U-turn lane. Junctions do not have pedestrian crossings on all sides, and some routes require footbridge use or waiting for multiple cycles of traffic lights. Walking up and down stairs, or waiting for two lifts greatly ­increases the time to traverse the crossing.

The size of the island for the predicted pedestrian traffic crossing the junction is insufficient. There is a lack of dropped kerbs at some crossing points.

Excessive length of traffic light phases delays pedestrians and vehicles, and reduces the maximum throughput of the junction.

Railings needlessly reduce the width of the footpath.

I think that similar issues exist in every district, and each one is a small discouragement to walking.

Also, do not be too quick to cut bus routes; buses support walkers. You can take a walk, and catch a bus home when tired, but if you drive out, you must also drive home.

I rarely walk from Aberdeen to Wan Chai, but taking a bus to Wan Chai, walking to Causeway Bay and taking a different bus back is viable. A driver might choose to park twice for such a trip.

Two passengers on a minibus will represent less road ­congestion than two passengers in two taxis, and two taxis are better, in terms of parking occupancy, than two private cars

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang

Criticism of Cathay Pacific is very unfair

Henry Ng appears to find no comfort in Cathay Pacific and his letter expressed his disdain for the airline (“Cathay needs to think less about savings and more about customers”, ­October 13).

He is certainly entitled to his view, but constructive criticism cannot be so lopsided. Cathay Pacific has become an easy ­target for disgruntled passengers who seem to feel the airline fails to deliver. However, this is not true.

Cathay has invested significantly in product development, which is most visible with the ­arrival of the latest A350 aircraft, with newly styled interiors in all three classes that ensure passenger comfort and safety.

Cathay lounges around the world offer a superlative experience before departure and upon arrival in certain destinations. Cathay is a commercial entity, it needs to make a profit and strives to do so without government subsidies that benefit many Middle Eastern and some Asian carriers. Mr Ng comments that “passengers are lucky if they don’t get frowned on by a ­member of staff” – what nonsense. Cathay staff are professional, polite and courteous but subjected often to unruly behaviour that may indeed warrant being frowned upon.

The present furore about adding an additional seat is understandable, but the new design of the seats will continue to match, and in many cases surpass, that offered by other ­airlines which offer a less ­complete service.

The wording used by CEO Ivan Chu Kwok-leung was perhaps clumsy but reflects merely his desire to ensure Cathay ­remains a leading carrier.

Cathay Pacific knows that passengers have choices and for 70 years has been an integral part of the success of Hong Kong. It is an achievement that Swire is proud of and one that will continue.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Stop alcohol sales in shops to under-18s

A survey has shown that more children (some as young as 10) are drinking alcohol. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to set up new regulations to curb this disturbing trend.

It is easy for youngsters to buy ­alcohol in shops, including supermarkets.

I think that, with teenagers, the problem is exacerbated by peer influence. Teens think that drinking alcohol is a way to show their maturity.

They want to appear to be cool in front of their friends and to show off.

They can also be influenced by their family environment. Some parents will drink at home. Without some education, this might give the wrong ­impression to children who want to copy what their parents do.

Doctors have warned that consuming alcohol at an early age could cause irreversible brain damage and harm the ­development of children.

It could adversely affect their learning abilities ­compared with other students’ and they might develop behavioural problems. Repeated alcohol abuse can lead to addiction.

The government must ­recognise that strict regulations are needed which stop youngsters from being able to ­purchase alcohol from shops.

Amy Ho, Yau Yat Chuen

Puzzled by optimism over falling pound

I am greatly indebted to the UK undersecretary for international trade for informing me that the plunge in the value of the pound is “not unwelcome”, and deeply impressed with his precise financial acuity in pinpointing that it had “probably” been too high anyway (“British international trade minister says ­crashing pound is “not ­unwelcome”, October 8).

Quite what basis Mike ­Garnier uses to come to these ­inaccurate and vague conclusions is beyond me, although it seems to be in keeping with the general tone of misguided ­optimism of the pro-Brexit ­campaigners that seems to ­prevail.

I can assure him that for ­anyone with sterling-based ­assets, a drop of over 15 per cent in value is very much not “not unwelcome” and that a great deal of considered and informed opinion in the financial world suggests that the value of ­sterling will “probably” drop ­further.

It is, however, reassuring to know that he considers currency volatility to be a “bad thing” but somewhat perplexing to hear that he (and presumably the UK government) are not “being ­idealistically optimistic in order to pretend it’s not disastrous”.

Jim Hacker [Yes Minister] could not have said it better.

Mike Tinworth, Lantau