Letters to the Editor, November 25, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 4:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 4:39pm

Bookstores in city living on borrowed time

The remaining outlets of the well-known Page One bookstore have closed, owing to skyrocketing rents and competition from online bookstores (“Sad chapter as bookstore chain shuts outlets”, November 18).

This means that local citizens now have fewer opportunities to experience the joy of reading with a real book in their hands. It indicates that we are seeing the gradual decline of the bookstore culture in the city.

I can understand why it was having these financial problems. The Singapore-based company had set up its outlets in some of Hong Kong’s busiest malls, such as Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui and Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong. Rents soared drastically as these malls sought to adjust the tenant mix, replacing more staid retailers like bookstores with high-end boutiques.

In this fast-paced society, shoppers are more likely to prefer such shops to sitting with a book in a quiet area of Page One . Its Harbour City outlet tried to diversify, with a bakery and gift corner, but to no avail. And apart from facing the challenge of high rents, it was also having to deal with intense competition from online retailers offering books at cheaper prices, especially as shipping costs have dropped.

The shop had a wide range of magazines and books from overseas, but people can easily get these publications online.

Online bookstores like ­Amazon are more convenient for a consumer than a real store. You simply make use of the search engine, type in a few words and find what you want. Going to a shop in a mall is time-consuming, and saving time is very important to Hongkongers.

Some may argue that people can still develop a love of reading online, but I think the bookstore culture is still the bedrock of building people’s interest in reading.

These shops used to be the best place to kill time. You could go to your favourite category, pick books that caught your eye and browse through them ­before choosing one to buy. This is something you cannot do ­online.

I think many of my fellow diehard readers will be ­saddened by the demise of Page One.

Samantha Lee, Ngau Tau Kok

Insufficient swimming facilities

The letter regarding swimming pool opening hours by Barry Dalton(“Keep outdoor pools open for whole year”, ­November 21) is one I would ­endorse.

There are insufficient heated pools in Hong Kong, and the time required to travel to one certainly prevents me from swimming as much as I would like to in the winter months.

I would also question why, in a month that can be fairly warm much of the time, as is the case this year, non-heated pools are closed in November, as they are in April.

I should also like to echo the point that lanes for experienced and faster swimmers are often blocked by slower, less experienced swimmers. I have found that the pool attendants do not ask slow swimmers to use the appropriate lane or pool, ­despite signs requesting such usage.

This situation is exacerbated when lanes are booked by swimming clubs or the like, and when this happens it really does seem as though there are insufficient swimming facilities in Hong Kong.

The climate is one that is conducive to swimming, and there are great benefits to be had from encouraging it as much as possible.

Geoff Carey, Sai Kung

Against having heated outdoor pools in winter

I do not agree with Barry Dalton (“Keep outdoor pools open for whole year”, November 21).

It is true that swimming is an effective way to lead a healthy lifestyle.

You can burn more ­calories from swimming than from any other aerobic exercise. But does that justify heating all Hong Kong’s outdoor pools so that they can stay open ­throughout the year, including the cold months?

A lot of energy would have to be used up to keep these pools heated through the winter.

It would expend even more energy than that used to light up a skyscraper overnight.

We all accept the importance of saving energy these days, and heating all of Hong Kong’s outdoor pools would be environmentally irresponsible. And, even if the pools were open, I wonder how many people would actually use them.

Many citizens would not be willing to strip down to their swimming costumes when the temperatures are very cold. So, with low usage, I do not think keeping these pools open can be justified.

It is not as if you cannot swim during winter as the indoor pools remain open.

Shek On-man, Sai Kung

Activists must admit they were wrong

Even though they vowed to keep fighting, I think the two disqualified lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, should finally take responsibility for their actions.

When they won seats in the Legislative Council elections in September, they had been given the opportunity, as lawmakers, to fight for the citizens who ­voted for them.

They knew what was ­expected of them when taking the oath of office, but used inappropriate language which was insulting to China.

Their behaviour was not ­acceptable as that of a legislative councillor. If they had taken the oath in the correct way, they would still be lawmakers representing their constituents and the National People’s Congress would not have had to issue an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law.

Patricia Cheng, Choi Hung

Voters will have been disappointed

I think that when the now ­disqualified lawmakers were ­elected in September with so many votes, many voters must have thought this could be a new era.

They believed these young lawmakers would bring tremendous ­passion to their work in the Legislative Council chamber in ­pursuit of their goals.

However, this was not to be and, because of their behaviour in the oath-taking ceremony, they have left a lot of citizens ­feeling very disappointed.

I think it is a pity that they failed to appreciate the importance of the oath-taking ceremony and the great offence that they caused. I hope that in ­future elections people will think carefully about all the ­candidates before casting their vote.

Kathleen Kong Hoi-hung, Hang Hau

Welcoming US senators’ stout defence of HK

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the US, introduced by senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, is long overdue.

Despite the efforts of Beijing to overstep its bounds in the former British colony, outcries over the crackdown on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms had seemingly fallen on deaf ears in Washington – that is, until now.

Pro-democracy advocate Joshua Wong Chi-fung’s visit to Washington earlier this month garnered strong support from the bill’s sponsors, who have called for an end to Beijing’s ­repression of human rights in Hong Kong. Notwithstanding, there is little evidence the central government is committed to respecting the “one country, two systems” principle, affirming autonomy until 2047.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial aptly put it, “The more China violates its promise to ­respect Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, the more this bill will gain support in Congress.”

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US