Letters to the Editor, August 15, 2017
Country parks suitable for public estates
I agree with Carmen Wong about the need for the government to do more to deal with the shortage of affordable homes (“Officials must boost public housing supply”, August 2).
Because of this shortage and high rents, a lot of low-income families have no choice but to live in subdivided flats and must endure often abominable conditions, with poor hygiene, and mosquitoes and flies. In summer, temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
It is inhumane to be forced to live like that and the government must quickly address this issue by boosting the supply of public housing.
The average waiting time for general applicants for a public flat is over 41/2 years. With such a long delay, it is inevitable that more citizens will be forced to rent subdivided units.
Therefore, it is time for the government to earmark areas of country parks to provide more public housing.
It must choose those areas which attract a relatively low number of visitors. It must also do more to get back brownfield sites in the New Territories and also use them for new public estates.
Dealing with the housing crisis should be the government’s top priority.
Anson Wong , Sha Tin
Factories with flats must be made safer
The fatal blaze at a subdivided flat on Saturday has once again raised concerns about fire safety at industrial buildings where such units are located.
Owners and management of these former factories must ensure that all fire safety precautions have been taken, especially if they also contain small warehouses and private businesses where flammable material might be stored.
Making sure that all flammable material is banned is an important first step. Also, there must be enough easily accessible fire exits that are clearly marked, and all units which are rented out must be provided with a fire extinguisher.
There have been reports in the past about industrial buildings converted into flats, where these fire safety precautions have been ignored. This puts the tenants at risk.
Also, if owners of these industrial buildings must have a mixed rental arrangement, then they can minimise the risk with proper planning. Storage units could be put on the higher floors. Subdivided units occupied by tenants would be located on the lowest floors.
This would make it far easier for the residents to get out of the building safely, instead of being trapped on an upper floor and having to wait to be rescued by the emergency services.
Fires in these buildings can spread quickly, so being able to make a swift exit is important. Having the flats on lower floors minimises the risk to residents.
There should also be a limit on the number of units that are allowed in these buildings. And corridors should be widened, so that, in an emergency, all tenants can get out quickly.
For the sake of residents forced to live in this kind of accommodation, the government must ensure that safety standards at these industrial buildings are improved as soon as possible.
Lo Man-lok, Po Lam
At-risk teens need a lot more support
Following the spate of student suicides last year, the public became more aware of the need to look after the mental wellbeing of youngsters.
Some people have talked about the emotional weakness of students and others criticise the outdated education system. It is certainly the case that youngsters are under a lot of pressure with so many tests.
And the results of all of them matter, because the system is exam-oriented.
The stress is made worse because youngsters do not want to let their parents down. Some feel such despair that they take their own lives. Also, there are teens who are victims of bullying and this affects their feelings of self-esteem.
They may feel excluded from their peer group and therefore isolated and worthless.
These youngsters are at serious risk if they do not seek help from teachers or school counsellors.
Feeling alone and desperate, thinking there is no one there to help them, even if they do not commit suicide, they may be psychologically scarred for life.
The government, schools, teachers and parents need to be more aware of the importance of helping vulnerable young people before they make a tragic mistake.
Ella Tang, Ma On Shan
Private hospital bed deal is to be welcomed
I back the decision by officials to put some public hospital patients into (reduced rate) private hospital beds during the current flu outbreak.
This has helped alleviate overcrowding problems in wards and the shortage of health care staff in public hospitals.
If this arrangement continues, it can help ease the strain that doctors and nurses are under in these hospitals.
They might not have to work such long hours and could have proper rest periods.
Also, patients would be in a better environment and would not have to wait so long to see a doctor.
The faster they are treated, the sooner they can get better and be discharged.
Summer Ting, Tseung Kwan O