Letters to the Editor, January 29, 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 12:15am

Flight MH370 search focus made no sense

At last, good sense has prevailed and the search team for the MH370 Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight which went missing ­almost three years ago believes “an area of 25,000 square kilometres to the north is more likely to yield results” (“Learning the lessons of ill-fated flight MH370”, January 24).

The absurdity of the original decision to search the 120,000 sq km area in the south Indian Ocean, now abandoned, has been proved by this complete reversal of direction of where to search. It looks like a case of no one having had the courage ­earlier on to say “no minister” to a search in the south Indian Ocean.

It was known from the beginning that the last positively identified position of MH370, by transponder radar, was at the Ho Chi Minh flight information region boundary on the northerly flight plan track. The realisation that something had gone seriously wrong would not have come without first exhausting the half-hour “uncertainty phase” and next the half-hour “alert phase” declared.

By this time, the search team would have asked to see all the radar recordings and it wishfully latched on to the skin-return of an unidentified target on the military radar that went first west from the last transponder radar position of MH370 and then south into the Indian Ocean, believing this was MH370. But it could have been any military aircraft returning to base in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The MH370 flight, having reached cruising level on flight plan track, then going incommunicado and still airborne some six hours later, is most consistent with a case of slow decompression of cabin air, sending everyone to sleep. The aircraft would have flown on automatically on the last ­heading or track dialled into the autopilot, until fuel ran out.

If MH370 had gone to the south Indian Ocean, the Indonesian long-range radar in Aceh province would have picked it up, but apparently didn’t.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Breastfeeding mums deserve more respect

Many mothers choose to breastfeed their babies because of the health benefits. However, in Hong Kong they are made to feel embarrassed or angry by ­ignorant stares or humiliated by inappropriate venues such as toilets or tiny, windowless back rooms.

The government should actively promote the health benefits of breastfeeding, as well as educate employers and the public that nursing a baby outside the home is not shameful, and ­encourage more nursing rooms in public places such as ­shopping malls.

Employers should be told to show respect to breastfeeding mums and at least provide dedicated refrigerators so they can store breast milk at the office and be given breastfeeding breaks.

Donald Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Those were the days in Peak Mansions

I read with interest the article by Rachel Blundy (“Memories of Peak Mansions: former residents reflect on life in stunning flats overlooking Hong Kong”, January 14).

My father, Geoffrey Barnes, was a career overseas civil servant, working originally as a ­district officer in Sarawak, then as private secretary to the ­governor in Kuching. We ­returned to England for a couple of years before moving to Hong Kong, where my father took up the post of police liaison.

He took on other appointments, and by the time we moved into Peak Mansions he was deputy health and welfare secretary, before becoming head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, then lastly security secretary, ­before retiring in 1990.

My mother was busy raising me and my three siblings, but also worked as a translator for the government (she was born in Denmark).

Peak Mansions were government quarters, so the other residents were all civil servants or government employees: a judge or two, various secretaries and deputy secretaries. Also there was the police commissioner at the time, Roy Henry, who claimed to have felt the presence of a ghost in Peak Mansions.

The main feature of the place was the space, large rooms and high ceilings. I think the flat was well over 3,000 sq ft, which is quite luxurious in these days of 700 sq ft shoeboxes.

Andrew Barnes, London, England

Effort needed to preserve old traditions

I am saddened by the disappearance of several Lunar New Year traditions.

Recently, HSBC launched a new function on their e-banking app which allows people to send or receive red lai see packets digitally. Sure, technology may offer convenience but it also shows that it is quickly replacing some of our festive traditions.

It’s not just the receipt of red packets – there are some other traditions which required the personal touch and are fading.

Nowadays people mainly use apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat to communicate, and this also ­happens during Lunar New Year.

More people are sending messages with blessings through the apps to their relatives and not making the effort to visit them.

Another tradition is the ­reunion dinner. As travelling ­between countries becomes more convenient, many people study or work overseas for higher wages. In the country they have moved to, Lunar New Year may not be an important festival and their office or place of study may not close for it.

Even if they have some leave owing, they may be less inclined than in the past to ask for a holiday so they can come back to Hong Kong to be with the family during the ­festival.

Instead of flying home and joining relatives for the reunion dinner, they will often send their greetings via FaceTime or Skype.

To keep traditions alive, we must balance convenience with the need to preserve family bonds.

Tsang Ka-yee, Tseung Kwan O

Beware the traps of social networking

I am concerned about the ­pitfalls of social networking sites.

It seems many citizens do not care or do not know about the potential risks involving social networking and only a few people have thought seriously about how our privacy can be breached.

Invasion of privacy and the possibility of being hacked is ­rising as we surf the web.

To prevent these kinds of ­invasions – and cut the risk of cybercrime – social network users should improve privacy by only ­allowing friends to see their personal information and avoid talking to strangers on ­Facebook. Never give out personal information to strangers online and don’t share sensitive or private information.

I am sure that if everyone just uses common sense and follows some basic rules, they will be able to avoid some of the traps and sad consequences of using social networking sites.

Cally Kong Tsz -yiu, Hang Hau

Free up A&E units only for urgent cases

Many patients attend accident and emergency (A&E) units ­because they offer a walk-in ­service and the fee charged is a low all-in rate of HK$100 (even if increased, it will only be HK$220), irrespective of tests carried out or drugs provided.

A similar all-in approach ­applies for the Hospital Authority’s general outpatient clinics (consultation fee HK$45), but their hours are restricted and appointments are required, which can be difficult to secure, ­as the clinics are grossly overloaded.

The practical way to relieve pressure on A&E services would be to have Hospital Authority staffed 24/7 general outpatient clinics linked to each A&E facility, but with similar charges for both to avoid attracting additional patients wanting to ­bypass the authority’s normal general outpatient clinics or private GPs.

All patients would be ­assessed by triage nurses and those not requiring specialist (and costly) A&E services would be directed to the less sophisticated and much cheaper-to-operate general clinic.

If the general clinic assessed that patients did require specialist A&E care, they could be directed back there.

Doug Miller, Tai Po