Open more nurseries in all districts

I refer to the report ('40pc of parents have left children home alone', March 19).

A survey found that children as young as seven had been left alone at home by parents because of work commitments or an emergency.

I think the government should allocate more resources for childcare services to solve this kind of problem.

It is common nowadays for children to be left alone. Parents who do this are failing to realise that this is very serious.

There have been stories in the past of children left on their own having accidents. In some tragic cases there have been fatalities with children falling from windows. This problem can be combated with greater provision of childcare services.

For low-income families where the parents need to work and cannot afford such services, the relevant allowances must be increased.

The government should also open more nurseries in all of Hong Kong's 18 districts to meet the obvious demand.

It should also set up courses to train staff who will work at the nurseries so they can give the right kind of care to the children in their charge.

Ng Suet-yi, Sha Tin

Save south Lantau from incinerator

The government and, in particular, the Environmental Protection Department, is currently pressing ahead with plans to build a waste incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau, a small island just off the southern coast of Lantau.

I believe the location was primarily chosen not to step on any of your toes, because south Lantau does not have any big property developments. I urge people to lobby the government in order to get this plan halted. South Lantau is one of the last areas of natural beauty in Hong Kong.

It is home to Hong Kong's largest country park, beautiful Cheung Sha beach, and the tourist attraction of the Big Buddha at Ngong Ping.

Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting city to live in and visit, because it has such a wide variety of attractions. We have gleaming skyscrapers next to our beloved Star Ferry, glitzy shopping malls next to bustling wet markets, and dense urban areas next to our country parks.

Green areas like south Lantau deserve to be protected, because there are not many of them left. South Lantau should not be spoiled. It is one of the last natural assets that we have, and it belongs to all of us and to our children.

Heike Tesch, Lantau

It is time for Britain to quit the EU

Prior to joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 Britain was a booming country with vibrant agricultural, fishing, and manufacturing industries.

With ever closer union with Europe our country has been beset with high unemployment, chronically high taxation, and an astonishingly high crime rate, as have many other European Union member countries.

At the current time Britain is running the largest budget deficit the country has ever known. In just two of these EU member countries, Britain and Spain, the total number of unemployed is more than the population of Hong Kong. In my adult life there has never been a referendum in Great Britain on membership of the EU.

At present 75 per cent of Britain's laws are made in the EU by politicians, many of whom we have never had a chance to vote for. We have all but surrendered the sovereignty of our country. Membership of the EU costs the country an estimated HK$500 million every day.

The destruction of our economy and democracy is almost complete. Greece is already effectively bankrupt, and other European countries including Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy are in deep economic trouble.

The EU and euro are like a drunk in a bar who faces two equally unattractive choices. Exit but leave with some dignity intact - that is, break up the EU and dissolve the euro - or have one last drink in the hope that it will make everything seem better; that is, foist more taxation on the already overtaxed people of Europe in this failed experiment in social and political engineering. This is all regardless of mounting evidence that neither the EU, nor the euro can work.

We need a Europe-wide referendum on membership to let the people of the EU have their say. The British people aren't allowed a referendum because we can't be relied upon to get the answer right, and the power-controlling elite suspect we'll vote 'no' and bring the gravy train that is the EU to an end.

Scott Davies, Wan Chai

Some women reject the boardroom

Reading Enoch Yiu's White Collar column ('Promoting women at home and work', March 13), reminded me of a debate I watched two years ago when I was an undergraduate student at Peking University.

The subject of the debate was whether or not highly educated females should go to work, in other words, whether a highly educated woman should choose to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.

This left a deep impression on me. The question for a well-educated women is sometimes not whether she can find a job, but whether or not she wants to.

The job-seeking environment has improved for women and a lot of woman graduates are now at junior and middle levels of management. But the top jobs are still dominated by males. The reasons for this situation were discussed by Yiu, but I also think the willingness or lack of it on the part of some women is an issue. The higher the position you take, the more responsibility you have, the more time you spend. Some women may have the ability to do a top job but are unwilling to take it on. However, there are still situations where women will not get a top appointment because of the wrong attitude adopted by the company towards women in the workplace.

I hope those attitudes will change and that in future in all firms if a woman does not get a seat in the boardroom it is because she has chosen not to accept it.

Zhang Huan, Ngau Tau Kok

Trust brings distinguished academics

While Craig Venter was in Hong Kong, he gave an inspiring public lecture before receiving his honorary doctorate from the University of Hong Kong ('Titan banking on green dream', March 18).

What was not acknowledged in the report was that Dr Venter presented this lecture to the hundreds of scientists, students and members of the public at the behest of the Shirley Boyde Trust.

The trust's record of persuading great scientists to give public lectures in Hong Kong is enviable, and unique.

Dr Venter joins Sydney Brenner, Sir Paul Nurse, Sir David Lane and Sir Alec Jeffreys, who between them have two Nobel Prizes and countless academic and civic honours.

The 5th Shirley Boyde Memorial Lecture was jointly presented by the University of Hong Kong's department of biochemistry and the trust.

The trust was set up in memory of Shirley Boyde, whose untimely death in a hospital accident dominated the front pages of this newspaper in early 1989 and provoked a public controversy.

Donations from the Hong Kong public, the family and the private sector were combined to fund the trust, whose objectives remain the promotion of scientific research and education in the fields of medicine and conservation biology.

Nick Boyde, trustee, Shirley Boyde Trust

Tackle rule is bad for sevens rugby

Rugby's governing body, the International Rugby Board, and its director of referees for rugby sevens are killing the game's traditional style.

This season referees have heavily favoured the team in possession in an attempt to replicate 15s rugby.

In the majority of tackle contests referees award a penalty or advantage against defenders for not rolling away from or releasing the attacker.

These new rulings make no sense in sevens.

With so few players on the field defenders want to get straight back into the defensive line not lie in the tackle area, and once a tackler has got to his feet, he must have every right to compete for the ball.

Sevens has always been about skill and teamwork to evade defenders, not crash into them like modern 15s. Therein lies its potential to attract new countries like China.

If the IRB wants to change the game into a seven-a-side version of 15s, this potentially great sport will disappoint when it enters the Olympics.

Zhang Xin, Shenzhen