Letters to the Editor, November 21, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 5:00pm

Bad weather forced flight to be cancelled

I refer to the letter by Peter Lok (“Flight changes for Haima not handled well”, November 13) about a flight cancellation during the close approach of ­Severe ­Typhoon Haima on ­October 21, in reply to the letter from the ­Observatory (“No 8 ­signal for Haima raised on ­public safety concerns amid gales”, November 4).

Mr Lok pointed out that probing the interior of a typhoon could assist decision-making during the typhoon’s passage.

This is indeed an endeavour that the Observatory has been making in cooperation with the Government Flying Service (GFS) since 2009.

Even though we would very much like to engage GFS flights for every typhoon, it is not always possible as it depends on multiple factors, including the availability of the aircraft (which has a primary role to carry out life-saving operations such as search and rescue), air traffic conditions, the availability of departure runway slots, and the weather.

In the past couple of years, data collected on these flights was found useful in ­the operation of the typhoon ­warning and in ­increasing the accuracy of weather predictions.

In the case of Haima, the GFS flight into the typhoon had to be cancelled as the projected weather condition was unsuitable to landing on completion of the flight. This is understandable as all data collection flight missions should be carried out under controllable and safe ­conditions.

Another question is whether more commercial flights could fly when the runway is less windy during a typhoon.

In this regard, we have learnt from airline operators that the decision to fly or not involved complex considerations beyond the weather.

Some operators require up to 24 hours ahead to make arrangement for an anticipated major disruption due to ­weather.

This is a challenge to all ­concerned as a slight shift of the typhoon track relative to the ­airport could make a significant difference in runway weather and thus operational availability of the runways. Nevertheless, rest assured that the Observatory will ­continue to strive for service ­enhancements meeting the evolving needs of the users.

Dr W. T. Wong, acting assistant director, Hong Kong Observatory

Underground spaces would be viable here

I support the government’s proposal to create underground spaces in selected urban areas.

I think it will free up more land resources and may even provide potential living space.

In so many cities, skyscrapers are the norm. However, not many cities have done much in the area of underground developments, even though such projects can free up land ­resources at the ground level and provide land resources under the ground.

The underground development project proposal in Hong Kong mainly focuses on four areas – Tsim Sha Tsui, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley. I believe it can help alleviate the problem of land shortage and reduce the traffic burden.

By connecting the underground pedestrian paths, there will also be more space for ­other urban amenities and community facilities.

If roads are to be built underground, then traffic accessibility will be improved.

People will be able to drive, or even ­access different pedestrian paths which form a comprehensive underground traffic ­network that can be used as a substitute for the transport ­network on the ground.

With less traffic on the roads in these urban areas, the quality of life will be improved for residents living nearby.

Unpleasant facilities which can be an eyesore, such as refuse collection points, can be moved underground. Places like that at ground level can be very ­off-putting for residents and tourists.

Although we are still some way from seeing these underground developments ­become a reality, I do think we can transform these four urban areas and make them even more popular with tourists.

I think an underground shopping centre would be very popular with tourists and local people in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Also, these areas would not have to adhere to the principle of separating commercial from residential buildings. There would be a lot more flexibility. And if more businesses went underground, there would be more space at ground level for more recreation centres and even some new tourism attractions.

It might not prove possible to build residential blocks underground. There could be some ­logistical problems connected with that.

Ruby Fon, Sha Tin

We all need to generate much less waste

Over the past few years, Hong Kong’s landfills have been filling up and will reach saturation in the near future.

This is a serious problem and yet many citizens do not seem to care and keep generating huge volumes of waste.

We should all be making the effort to generate less waste. There are things we can all do, such as writing on both sides of paper and making sure we put it into a recycling bin.

The government should try harder to promote the importance of waste separation and recycling.

Further waste charges should also be introduced, similar to the charge in shops for plastic bags.

People should be encouraged to bring their own bottles rather than buying a lot of plastic bottles, which often then end up in our landfills.

Yu Hoi-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

Help people with talent get even better

I agree with Rachel Chan’s views about the development of the city (“Hong Kong needs to nurture talent for global ­outreach”, November 18).

Hong Kong is an advanced and cosmopolitan city and has a great deal of potential for advancement.

For instance, its financial industry is one of its major ­pillars.

However, some people have expressed concerns about the city’s future. To achieve a global outreach, it needs to make further advances.

When it comes to the field of innovation, it lags behind a number of countries which excel at research and development.

We are really ­behind some of these innovative nations and cities when it comes to ­research in science.

Therefore, more must be done to nurture people with talent. There should be more sponsorship schemes so that they can improve their ­knowledge and develop ­expertise.

As Hong Kong advances, this will help with the advancement of the whole country.

Jessica So Yau-nga, Sham Shui Po

Education key to curbing teen drinking

I understand why some correspondents have called for a law which stops stores from selling alcohol to people under the age of 18.

While I accept there is a problem with underage drinking in Hong Kong, I am not sure legislation would be effective.

Strict rules only work if they are well supervised and that could be difficult with insufficient manpower checking all the stores that sell alcohol.

Moreover, regulations fail to get to the root of the problem, which is youngsters’ lack of awareness of alcohol’s negative impact. Parents and schools must teach children to be aware of the risks that come from alcohol abuse. The key to dealing with the problem is education.

Only by teaching youngsters about the harm alcohol brings to under-18s, will society be able to deal with the problem.

Judy Lam, Sha Tin