Letters to the Editor, January 14, 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 January, 2018, 9:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 2018, 9:03am

Pardon may be best for illegal building works

What is all the fuss about the ­justice secretary having illegal ­structures?

If we really are so adamant about unauthorised building works then hold the whole government to account, as it has failed to do anything about all the illegal structures in Hong Kong, most of which are in the New Territories. Just drive into the compound of Marina Cove in Sai Kung and you see them wherever you look.

You see rooftop additions all over the New Territories and ­residents occupying government land next to their village houses.

It is hypocritical to point the finger at just one person. The whole administration should be held collectively accountable, along with the property tycoons who control it.

The next time protesters want to occupy something, ­instead of public space, choose the office buildings of these ­tycoons.

If we really want to do something about illegal structures, we have two choices. Either take immediate and forceful action against all affected households, or have a general pardon.

Then owners can have a surveyor measure and register all the illegal works and check whether they are safe. And the owners can pay a premium to legalise these extra square feet.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay

Relaxing ban on cannabis a bad idea

I refer to Yonden Lhatoo’s column (“Time to shed medieval mindsets over marijuana medication”, January 7). I disagree with his criticism of Hong Kong being a laggard and failing to follow the example of California and some other US sates which have legalised recreational use of ­marijuana.

Medical evidence has repeatedly confirmed the toxicity of cannabis use, as it affects the deeper part of the brain, especially the faculty of memorising. It also affects the ability to react rapidly to the environment, which explains why road accidents in Europe and elsewhere have increased due to people driving under the influence of cannabis. So, to say that marijuana does not kill is a bit ­far-fetched.

To try to legitimise the use of marijuana because of its ­medical benefits sounds pretty hollow to me as there are many other drugs that are ­already in use, such as painkillers.

Lhatoo is wrong to dub the Hong Kong authorities medieval, just because some governments in the West are making the wrong decisions about ­cannabis. There is no reason for the Hong Kong administration to follow suit.

Francois Moirez, Stanley

Real shame if once-popular game dies out

I refer to the news (“Familiar Hong Kong sound of mahjong tiles may be fading as more young people shun game”, ­January 5).

Mahjong is a part of traditional Chinese culture. It can be played at any time, but more people set up mahjong games during special occasions such as Chinese New Year or when there is a wedding.

Although it seems many young people are spurning it and do not go to mahjong parlours, I hope it survives as it is an integral part of Hong Kong’s heritage. Not only that, but in this age of people keeping in touch by messaging online, mahjong enables family members and friends to sit down face to face and talk.

Also, some research has suggested that integrating mahjong and tai chi into scheduled activities at nursing homes might help residents with dementia. Young people who start ­playing it with older relatives might find that it helped them train their brains.

It would be a shame if this once-popular game disappeared in Hong Kong.

Catherine Li Wing-yee, Kwai Chung

It is now time to raise low plastic bag tax

Consumers in Hong Kong use huge quantities of plastic in the form of bags, bottles, lunchboxes and utensils at fast food shops and few of us probably realise the damage we all do to our environment.

The government tried to tackle this problem by introducing a 50-cent levy for plastic bags in 2009 for supermarkets and later extending it to all retailers. While it has had a positive effect, large volumes of discarded and damaging plastic still end up in our landfills.

I think it is now time for the administration to raise the levy, as 50 cents at today’s prices is too low.

Leung Tsz-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

Family support can really help troubled teens

A study last year showed that one in seven primary school pupils polled showed signs of depression.

As this problem can get worse as they get older, a suitably qualified counsellor should be employed in every secondary school. This should be part of a government programme to promote a healthy family in Hong Kong, because what youngsters especially need in a family environment is ­sufficient emotional support.

With that help teenagers are far more likely to get the help they need if they are suffering from depression. The real problem for youngsters who are depressed is if they feel isolated and desperate because they do not think there is anyone there to help them. Also, teachers need to learn when changes in a pupil might indicate the ­youngster could be suicidal.

It saddens me when I see classmates who are depressed. I hope more can be done to help troubled pupils and that they can get the help they need.

Eiman Arif, Tuen Mun