talk back

Q Are you satisfied with hygiene standards in your area?

As Yau Tsim Mong district scored 96 points in the recent hygiene survey conducted by the Home Affairs Department, one can only surmise that no deductions are made for non-compliance with regulations covering the operation of stalls selling hot food.

Despite Sars, avian flu and outbreaks of food poisoning, many of the food outlets in the area flaunt most of the good hygiene practices that one would expect to be the norm in a city that has suffered great economic loss as a result of poor standards.

Some stalls sell uncovered food beside crowded pavements and rows of stationary vehicles belching particles into the air. Open dustbins are just centimetres away from the food on display.

Cooked and raw food lie side by side, and the same utensils are used on both. Cracked tiles and scratched surfaces abound. Hands are wiped on damp, soiled cloths.

At night, hawker stalls appear on the streets. Some of the vendors serve food while smoking cigarettes.


It is quite obvious that many residents are quite happy with the low hygiene standards as these food vendors do a roaring trade, but unfortunately, when they pick up a bug after eating unclean food, it is passed on to others.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and officials patrolling the area seem to be either afraid to tackle the vendors, or are indifferent to the health hazards they pose.

While bread is a far less perishable food than cooked meat, it is displayed inside shops under protective covers, with shoppers using tongs to pick out their purchases so that the cashier never touches the food. But cooked food is still sold by street hawkers, often in soaring temperatures, and is exposed to coughs, sneezes, saliva, dripping air-conditioners and exhaust emissions.

How can a modern society accept such medieval standards when it comes to one of the most essential elements?


The failure on the part of Team Clean in cracking down on these food stalls, the continuing presence of dripping air-conditioners on crowded streets, and the failure to pass legislation on engines that are left running while vehicles are stationary demonstrate that the approach to cleaning up our city is merely of a cosmetic nature.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui


Q Is the DBS compensation package fair?

Some 83 safe deposit boxes and their contents were erroneously discarded as scrap metal. This is unforgivable. After DBS made the mistake, it should have found the best solution as soon as possible.

DBS Bank has agreed to provide compensation of $150,000 to each of the affected parties. But I don't believe that this is enough.


Most people put their valuables in safe deposit boxes because they trust the banks to look after their valuables.

Those affected lost not only money and jewellery, but also items of sentimental value that cannot be replaced.

Alice Chak, Chai Wan


Q Is it worth losing more than 500 trees for a park?

I was amazed to read about the proposed axing of trees (Post, October 4) in Stanley to create an artificial garden for paying tourists. Surely trees form part of a garden - or is it a case of, as in the spoof film Mars Attacks, 'We come in peace - Shoot to kill'?

Andrew Windebank, Lamma Island

Q Should dogs be allowed to use public beaches?

It is disgraceful to see that the so-called Friends of Hoi Ha believe that the village remains their exclusive domain. It is about time they understood once and for all that Hoi Ha is a public domain, and that both the public and residents alike have every right to be there - and whenever they want to be.

Apologies would certainly seem to be in order for the shameful and apparently disgraceful attitude shown towards the dog owners that recently spent a day at Hoi Ha.

Past complaints and actions from the Friends of Hoi Ha regarding public access (by the way, isn't Hoi Ha a designated marine park?) have been equally as selfish in nature. As have subsequent tactics aimed at delaying the opening of a parking area for buses.

The Friends of Hoi Ha need to accept once and for all that the village (as with all other designated public locations within Hong Kong) is open to the public.

Name and address supplied

I was on the mangrove beach at Hoi Ha on the day the dog clubs visited the village. As the dogs passed through our village, I was alarmed to see that some people had three or even four large dogs on leads and were barely able to control them.

As I walked to the beach on the very narrow path, a woman with two very large dogs was dragged past me by her pets. They were out of her control.

When I got to the beach, I noticed that the majority of the dogs had been let off their leads and were running freely, totally out of control. I understand from posters put up by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department that large dogs should be kept on a lead at all times while they are in the country park. I was very concerned as a parent of small children to find that there were about 50 large dogs running all over the beach and in the village area where my children and other toddlers play.

I am not a dog hater. In fact, I appreciate wildlife in the park and people's right to keep a domestic pet, provided they do so in a responsible manner that does not pose a threat to children, wildlife or health and safety. The dog outing I witnessed was totally out of control and completely unsuitable in the already overcrowded and fragile environment of Hoi Ha Wan.

David Emerton, Hoi Ha village

On other matters ...

The recent transfusion mishap at the Prince of Wales Hospital in which an intern mis-labelled a patient's blood sample is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Studies have shown that mistakes such as this may occur with more than 10 per cent of patients. Some of those undergoing transfusions receive type O blood regardless of their blood types.

One major problem is that this critical task is delegated to the least qualified person in the health-care team - the intern, who is overworked, under-trained and under-supervised. Ideally, there should be a phlebotomy team in each hospital who would be better trained, more experienced and more focused in carrying out the task.

Alternatively, there should be some kind of buddy system in operation, in which the intern must have another person - for example, a ward nurse - to verify that blood samples are taken from the correct patients and that samples are labelled correctly. Both must sign on the sample to acknowledge responsibility (this system is already in place at many hospitals).

Computer records of patient transfusions must be kept in the blood bank, so that the blood types of patients with repeat transfusions are verified each time.

Feng Chi-shun, St Paul's Hospital, Causeway Bay

I'm writing to suggest something for the Immigration Department to consider. I've tried several times to make an appointment by phone (sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes early in the morning) to apply for an identity card for my daughter (who just turned 11). However, the time slots available are usually within school hours, while Saturdays are fully booked.

I've tried visiting the Immigration Department in person with my daughter on two Saturdays (one time arriving at 9am), but to no avail. I was told by office staff that a queue usually begins forming at 7am.

Obviously, there's something wrong here. The department's opening hours do not suit the needs of the public.

Those seeking passports can apply by mail and pick them up in person later, or vice versa, and I think the government should consider allowing the same for identity card applications. The required supporting documents, such as birth certificates and school records, are all located in Hong Kong and can be easily traced and verified.

Another suggestion for the government is that the opening hours of offices such as the Immigration Department should be extended at weekends. In order to make this possible without increasing staff numbers, the government may opt to cut opening hours or the number of staff on duty during weekdays, when there are fewer applicants.

K. Cheng, Tsim Sha Tsui