Letters to the Editor, May 20, 2015
Many street smokers put us all at risk
I, like all medical doctors in Hong Kong, mourned deeply the loss of our dear friend and colleague Dr Lo Wing-lok to lung cancer just three years after we lost his wife to the same disease.
As our secretary for food and health, Dr Ko Wing-man, has pointed out, Dr Lo's great contribution to the Hong Kong community in general and medical community in particular is irreplaceable.
I wonder whether Dr Ko has asked himself why lung cancer could have afflicted the couple. They were both non-smokers and health conscious just like four of my friends who have been diagnosed with late-stage adenocarcinoma of the lung in the last three months.
They too are non-smokers caught in the current cancer epidemic.
Those of us who live and work in the busiest urban areas of Hong Kong or Kowloon cannot help but notice how polluted the atmosphere is with cigarette smoke emanating from crowds of people smoking like chimneys near the many rubbish bins along our streets.
This smoke is difficult to disperse, with our narrow streets and high-rise buildings on each side.
Towards the end of each working day, when we walk home, we all breathe in a heavy dose of cigarette smoke and, worse still, we will all bring along cigarette smoke on our clothes to poison our family.
I urgently appeal to Dr Ko and our government to ban smoking on public thoroughfares and remove the numerous rubbish bins along the streets with immediate effect, for the greater good of public health.
Peter H. T. Wu, Mid-Levels
The bad-air days that make me feel ill
I have never been the kind of high-minded person who shouted about the need to protect Mother Nature. I found all the arguments a bit too much. However, I have started to care about these issues because of concern about my health.
I suffer from a nasal allergy and am affected by emissions from car exhausts and from people smoking outside.
On those days when the air quality is really bad, I have difficulty with my breathing and my nasal passages are congested.
I wish smokers would think about other citizens who are affected by second-hand smoke and would not light up in public.
Also, I urge those with private cars to try wherever possible to use public transport.
Think about the health of your fellow citizens and of the planet.
Albury Ma, Tin Shui Wai
Electric cars can help clean up mainland
Recently, I visited Beijing and during my visit found that there was an almost continuous smog.
I think it had less to do with the weather and more to do with the pollutants from factories, cars and coal-fired power plants. Many citizens were wearing masks, in an effort to protect themselves from the bad air.
A recent study by Greenpeace and Peking University found that air pollution kills more people than smoking in many cities on the mainland.
The bad air in these cities is getting worse and the central government has to act promptly to deal with this.
In March, it announced that it planned to increase the number of electric, hybrid and other alternative-fuel-powered vehicles used for public transport.
Electric vehicles do not release greenhouse gases and waste much less energy than traditional petrol vehicles. As they are quiet, they would create a less noisy environment on the main roads of cities. I hope this plan by the government is successful and that, as a consequence, air quality in the country will improve.
The government also needs to encourage citizens, when they are buying private cars, to opt for electric rather than traditional vehicles.
There should be more subsidies available to people and more charging stations and other related infrastructure to encourage motorists to make the switch.
I appreciate that it is not easy for the central government to deal effectively with the problem of air pollution, but it must try harder so that citizens enjoy greater protection and the nation's international reputation is enhanced.
Chloe Cheng Hoi-man, Kwun Tong
Apple Watch will be new distraction
When the new Apple Watch was launched last month, I read about it and the many functions that it has to offer, but I do not think it is necessary.
You can already get all these functions on your smartphone so I think it is a waste of money.
Also, it is another device which will distract people as they walk.
This distracted walking is becoming a problem as people who are concentrating on their mobiles crash into other pedestrians.
This problem will get worse if people have an Apple Watch on their wrist and look at it as they cross a busy road instead of concentrating on what is happening around them.
Louis Fung Lam-lap, Sau Mau Ping
We should build flats in country parks
I refer to the letter by Lam Chiu-ying ("Call for flats in country parks not feasible", May 18).
Your correspondent was rejecting calls by David Akers-Jones to use land in South Lantau Country Park for housing ("Let's look at unused land in housing issue", May 8).
I believe that building flats in country parks can help solve the housing shortage in Hong Kong.
The writer compared such a strategy with the estates that were constructed in Tin Shui Wai and the social problems that have resulted with low-income families there feeling isolated. But, I think with these housing blocks the government was trying to help these families and that it is better to put together people from the same social and economic grouping than to separate them.
When looking at the various options for the provision of additional housing in Hong Kong I think country parks offer the best option. They certainly provide a better solution than land reclamation or areas where there are legal restrictions on land use. They are cheaper and it would not take as long to build in these parks.
The government could develop a new town near an area of a country park that had been designated for development.
I think a programme of building in country parks offers the best way forward for the government's policies on new housing.
Carmen Li, Shek Kip Mei
Help keep traditional stores afloat
Most of Hong Kong's traditional independent stores have closed, replaced by the big chains such as 7-Eleven and Circle K.
These small retail outlets were so popular in the past, especially with students, working-class citizens and the elderly, because their prices were low. However, they have been driven out by high rents. They are part of Hong Kong's collective memory and are disappearing.
The day will come when all of these stores have gone and they will only remain in our memories.
I urge the government to take measures to ensure some of these stores can stay open by being allowed to pay affordable rents. Landlords could also help to make this possible. The administration could also consider offering subsidies to the owners.
Kristy Tsai, Tseung Kwan O