Letters to the Editor, December 27, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:33pm

Bookshop was not replaced by any business

It was good to read Frank Fischbeck’s letter on the demise of bookshops and its root cause (“Bookshops and malls to blame for demise”, December 21). However, others must also shoulder the blame for this seemingly never-ending decline in Hong Kong’s reading treasure chests.

In Happy Valley’s Sing Woo Road some years ago, we were so pleased to see the opening of a Dymocks bookstore. This was well frequented it seemed, and a very welcome change from the creeping band of banks and real estate agents elsewhere in our streets.

Two years later it closed, ­declaring a 30 per cent rent ­increase as the main reason.

Now this may be something that we have to endure in this city of Mammon, but what sticks in the craw is the fact that the very same unit has remained empty ever since, a gaping ­concrete yawn covered by an open steel grille. ­This is not an ­aesthetic nor encouraging sight.

Other cities curtail this ­unsightly and wasteful empty unit problem with penalties – perhaps Hong Kong could ­consider the same.

It may not bring back our ­beloved bookshops but it might limit some landlords’ seeming preference to stick two fingers up at their fellow citizens.

Jeremy Newton, Happy Valley

Start planning now for city’s ‘grey tsunami’

Earlier this year, a study warned of the increased pressure that would be brought to bear on public hospitals because of our ageing population, what has been described as a “silver ­tsunami”.

It is anticipated there will be a massive rise in elderly patient admissions to hospitals by 2041. Clearly this problem is going to get more serious, so our government must start preparing now so that by then there are enough public medical facilities.

With many more senior citizens, there will be a greater ­burden placed on public hospitals. The government must now draw up its plan to increase the number of public hospitals in Hong Kong and staff numbers.

It also needs to ensure a change of mindset. The message must be got across to citizens that emergency rooms are for emergencies, not for patients who do not have an urgent need of medical services. We must all learn to treasure our public ­hospitals and not take them for granted.

Vivian Shea, Tseung Kwan O

Genuine A&E cases should pay HK$100

The Hospital Authority’s plan to more than double the charges for accident and emergency (A&E) services to dissuade misuse by non-emergency ­patients and reduce waiting times may indeed dissuade the less well-off from attending when they genuinely need to.

A&E patients first register and pay and are then (very quickly in most cases) graded as to case severity by an experienced triage nurse.

This grading, later confirmed by an A&E doctor, could then be used to authorise an immediate refund of the proposed increase, that is, HK$120; time-wasters should pay the full HK$220 charge, genuine emergency cases should pay the original HK$100.

I also support the plan to ­increase the number of Hospital Authority general clinics in ­communities to reduce the ­burden on A&E.

Guy Shirra, Sai Kung

US should accept Taiwan as a country

I am writing about the phone conversation that took place ­between US President-elect ­Donald Trump and the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen.

The time is long overdue for the United States to recognise fellow democratic republic ­Taiwan as a free and ­independent country.

Among American citizens, there is no such thing as a “one-China” policy.

They believe there are two separate and distinct countries that are home to peoples of ­Chinese descent and they should be treated as such by the US ­government.

The time for choosing trade dollars over political freedom must come to an end.

The Republic of China was the original governing body of China until it was driven out to Taiwan by the communists in the civil war.

Free countries must never side with slave countries over other free countries.

Further, given China’s trade policies towards the US there may be no more appropriate time for recognition of Taiwan by America.

Let us hope for and insist on recognition by Washington of Taiwan and the restoration of its rightful place in the United ­Nations.

Joe Bialek, Cleveland, Ohio, US

Fight against corruption is top priority

I agree with Kathleen Kong Hoi-hung (“Citizens suffer when waste is dumped”, December 22) that the central government must do more to curb air ­pollution.

It must crack down on illegal factories and tightly control the proper disposal of waste.

Indeed, the government is trying to reduce pollution levels in the country, but is obstructed in its efforts by some corrupt ­officials.

It already has some strict laws in place, but it can be difficult to track down all the illegal factories. The government must effectively curb corruption if it wants to ­successfully tackle pollution. I do not see problems such as bad air being solved if the high levels of ­corruption continue ­unchecked.

Fok Pui-yi, Tseung Kwan O

Cut back on packaging in festive times

Our over-consumptive lifestyles are to blame for climate change in our planet.

Temperatures keep rising, despite world leaders signing the Paris agreement which seeks to curb climate change.

Individuals should be trying to do their bit to cut back on waste. We should be trying to celebrate festivals like Christmas in an eco-friendly manner and doing our bit to save the planet. We should try to cut back on our use of packaging, as it is a wasteful practice. For instance, we can reuse waste paper for wrapping presents.

We should also be cutting back on our consumption of meat and eat more vegetables. Eating less meat can lead to a ­reduction in greenhouse gases.

Anfield Tam, Quarry Bay

Brownfield sites offer best housing option

I refer to the letter by Shirley Lee (“Long-term solution to housing crisis”, December 14).

Not all underground areas in Hong Kong will be suitable for developments.

Some areas might be prone to flooding and pose a risk. Also, in an emergency it would be more difficult and take longer to evacuate people from underground sites if there was an accident such as a fire, than if they were in a high-rise at street level.

Also, if these underground sites were extensive, a lot of fresh air would have to pumped into buildings located there.

The government should ­instead be looking at ways to maximise the many brownfield sites that can be found throughout Hong Kong. They could provide a lot of land on which to build new flats. Many of these sites are abandoned land and ripe for ­redevelopment.

Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O