Letters to the Editor, July 28, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 4:30pm

Simple way to ensure water in home is safe

The lead-in-the-water scare took on a new dimension after the blood lead results were announced. The lead source may be multiple. Locating and correcting will take time, and the uncertainty will cause panic.

It is not difficult to obtain household water that is safe for drinking and cooking. The amount of lead leached out is proportional to the contact time, and the water that has been idling (and in contact with still water) for six hours may be at risk. For those households with suspected contaminated water, they can flush out the water by running the tap for a few minutes and then collect the water for drinking and cooking. The amount of lead dissolved in running water would be very small because the contact area with the solder is small (unlike lead water pipes).

In practical terms, since a significant amount of water would be wasted if we let the water drain down the sink, a better method is to use the water for other purposes. Water can be collected for other purposes or used for a shower directly. After the "purge", collect enough drinking and cooking water in buckets for use for the whole day.

One might say it is a third- world country method, but it is only used as a temporary measure until a fix can be found. It is recommended by the Centres for Disease Control in America.

The lead-in-the-water problem is not uncommon. In the US, many old homes might be affected because they might not be built to the current standard. For those old houses in Hong Kong, it might be advisable to carry out a water test that is cheap and can ensure the health of the family.

Some are thinking of installing water filters. The dissolved lead in water cannot be removed by simple filtration. The filter has to incorporate an adsorption process. Hence it is important to check before the installation The most effective way for trace metal removal is by reverse osmosis, which is employed in all kidney dialysis units in Hong Kong but it is expensive and 50 per cent of the water will be rejected as waste water.

Dr Ho Chung-ping, Jordan

Bullying online can lead to tragedy

Cyberbullying is a cause for concern in our society.

The power of words from a few keyboard strokes can push someone over the edge into deep despair.

Some online bullies may not give a thought to the power of their words and think that it is no big deal, but that is often not the case.

The targeted victims, if they are vulnerable teenagers, may have difficulty coping with the pressure from the many messages responding to something offensive that has been said about them by the cyberbully.

There have been cases where they have chosen to end their lives, which is a tragedy that leaves their families devastated.

I have seen the effect of cyberbullying on people and it makes me angry.

I cannot believe how someone could be so cruel especially when they decide to ridicule someone they barely know or do not know.

They need to try and understand the consequences of their actions and the power of words.

I urge young people to take care what they say on the internet. Take care before you press the Enter key. Think carefully about the effect your words might have on someone.

They could be far worse than you imagined, even leading to tragedy.

Julianna Ma Ka-lam, Yau Yat Chuen

Importing more doctors not the answer

The government is going to provide an extra HK$1.17 billion to reduce waiting times at public hospitals as patients are complaining that they need to wait for so long.

They think additional sums should be spent on importing more overseas doctors.

However, not everyone agrees with this, and I do not think this would be best way to reduce waiting times.

This is because importing more overseas doctors may decrease the job opportunities for locally trained doctors.

Also, the foreign doctors may not be familiar with the medical system in Hong Kong. This may cause some misunderstandings and even mistakes.

The government can use the additional funds to hire more local doctors and buy better equipment.

It can also attract more doctors to work in public hospitals by offering a more attractive salary package.

The government is right to want to use additional funding to reduce waiting times at public hospitals. It also needs to address the problem of public doctors working long hours.

Anson Wong, Ma On Shan

Muslim beliefs subjugate many women

I wonder how many people felt as stunned as I was over your front-page photograph of hundreds of veiled and cloaked Muslim women at Victoria Park ("United in faith", July 19).

Are there really 300,000 (predominantly female) practising Muslims in Hong Kong?

One reason I was stunned was to learn that, in this day and age, women allow themselves to be dictated to by their patriarchal religious leaders, which means having to cover themselves from head to foot in Hong Kong's horrid summer heat.

What sort of faith is it to bow before a much-feared God (who, if they used their brains, is really just a representation of the males who interpret the Koran according to their whims) by subjecting themselves to be bathed in sweat in the searing heat?

Were they perhaps trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records?

The feature piece in the Sunday Morning Post about polygamy in Malaysia highlights the fact of the hidebound rigidity of some Islamists who keep their women subjugated mainly for their lustful purposes ("Polygamy Inc: how Global Ikhwan is becoming a lifestyle choice for many devout Muslims," July 19).

What a sad thing it is to contemplate the supposedly contented faces of the women who display how totally brainwashed and uneducated they are.

This is why it makes me glad whenever I see around Hong Kong Indonesian women wearing tight jeans and sexy tops with their veils, because if they were in Saudi Arabia, they would surely be whipped by the morality police.

They are lucky to be in Hong Kong among their free Western and Filipino sisters who can wear the shortest shorts and revealing tops and simply enjoy their sexuality.

Celeste T. Cruz, Wan Chai

Cabbies need some healthy competition

I read with interest the report on the latest taxi driver protest over competition from apps like Uber ("Cabbies smash taxi in Uber protest", July 25).

If the regular taxi driver focused on providing a service to the public of Hong Kong, rather than protesting against a bit of healthy competition, then maybe the public would be more inclined to use them.

Over the last few months there has been a huge increase in cases of taxis driving around with their "out of service" signs on when clearly they are just picking and choosing which customers to stop for. Not all can be Kowloon taxis or really "out of service".

For me, the tipping point on my opinion of Hong Kong taxi drivers came on Wednesday around 6.30am at the height of an amber rainstorm. Waiting on Queen's Road in Sheung Wan with small luggage trying to get a taxi to take me to the Airport Express station (if it had not been torrential rain, I would have walked), four taxis with their "for hire" light on drove past without stopping. Being 6ft 5in (195cm), I think it would have been pretty difficult for them not to have noticed me, especially at that time of day when nobody else was on the streets.

Thankfully after about 10 minutes the fifth available driver stopped and picked me up. I had no qualms about asking him to keep the change, simply for doing his job.

It would be very sad to see the Hong Kong taxi service go the same way as Macau's, but unfortunately that is the way it appears to be heading.

So drivers, how about you stop protesting and get your own house in order first?

Graeme Duncan, Sheung Wan

Time to get tough over light pollution

Hongkongers are becoming more aware that light pollution is becoming a serious problem in the city.

I think the government needs to introduce regulations to control and reduce it.

It comes in different forms, such as reflections from glass walls of buildings.

There is also excessive artificial outdoor lighting at night, street lamps, neon signs, and illuminated signboards. It is bad for the natural environment and for ecosystems.

In some neighbourhoods, with mixed residential developments, such as Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po, some residents have trouble sleeping with strong neon lights penetrating their bedrooms. Some areas are lit up like football stadiums.

Excessive outdoor lighting may disorient physiological cycles and the movement of some animals.

Regulations are clearly needed to tackle light pollution or the problem will only get worse.

Tina Ho, Kowloon Tong