Letters to the Editor, August 20, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 4:16pm

All must pitch in - including our leaders

Your editorial on cleanliness in public hospital laundries was laudable, but your exhortation to the public to "pitch in" neglected the "leadership gap" ("All must pitch in for a clean HK", August 13).

Many sources of dirt damage Hongkongers' health, especially of the old and of children, where our leaders should set a far better example in "pitching in" than simply sweeping a few streets.

The fumes and particles emitted from old vehicles, especially pre-Euro III/IV trucks, is up to 10 times worse than that from modern vehicles. But the government shows insufficient determination to cut these levels dramatically, and puts the economic interests of the transport sector before public health. A poor example to the rest of us.

A plague of double-parked cars damages our transport efficiency in Central. At 3.15pm on August 12, "people movers" were parked in very middle of Queen's Road Central by the old Lane Crawford store, severely backing up the traffic flow through Central. They had hazard warning lights insouciantly flashing, alerting the public (though apparently not the police). Leadership in clearing away these pests and enforcing fines or (when they deliberately block the very centre of a highway) arresting the drivers and towing away the cars would be welcome.

Finally, lead in water pipes. We will have a judge-led investigation. But these things take time - at least nine months, we are told. More pressing than allocating blame is to find out the source of the lead, and to determine the fix. Not much leadership visible there, either.

So we should all pitch in. But your call would be more persuasive if you also called for action from those who possess the most power and authority to make a difference.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Forecasting thunderstorms is a challenge

I refer to the letter by J. May ("Observatory's disappointing forecasts", July 23) on the Observatory's weather forecast for the weekend of July 18 and 19, and the comparison of performance in weather forecasting between Hong Kong and New Zealand.

I would like to point out that the weather systems affecting Hong Kong, in the subtropical region, and New Zealand, in the temperate region, are not the same. New Zealand, in the mid-latitude, is usually affected by warm and cold fronts. These fronts move steadily and evolve relatively slowly, making them more predictable. Located on the south China coast in the low latitudes, Hong Kong can find both cold fronts in winter and much changeable convective weather in summer.

Owing to the "well-behaved" cold fronts, winter weather in Hong Kong is likewise more predictable. Yet in summer, such convective weather as thunderstorms and showers develop and evolve rapidly, making them still a great challenge to predict, despite advancements in forecasting technologies.

A few days before that July weekend, the Observatory forecast that local weather would turn showery with thunderstorms, due to the development of a broad area of low pressure in the vicinity of Hong Kong. Thundery showers associated with this low pressure area did affect the territory on Saturday morning, but became confined to the west of the Pearl River Estuary and the seas just slightly south of Hong Kong for the rest of the weekend. This left Hong Kong with better weather than expected.

There is indeed room for improvement in predicting such convective weather. The Observatory will continue to strive to provide better weather services to the public.

Lee Lap-shun, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Not enough taxis to meet demand

I do not understand why local taxis claim they are losing business to Uber.

I take a taxi two to three times a week from Chatham Road in Tsim Sha Tsui at about 3pm. I wait for 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes even an hour, to get a taxi. So it seems taxis are not losing business; in fact, they have too much business.

Why should I not call Uber, which can bring the car in two to five minutes maximum? Its service is good, and I need not wait.

Taxi companies that do not believe what I say can come at 3.15pm to Chatham Road, and I am ready to show them how crazy people become when they wait for an hour for a taxi. And I am not the only one who suffers; I see many people running here and there for a taxi.

Gary Ahuja, Tsim Sha Tsui

Don't deny HK an excellent service

I have lived and worked in Hong Kong for 17 years. To me, it is one of the best cities in the world. But some things concern me: specifically, Uber and the taxi situation.

On the one hand, I feel bad for the red taxis. The drivers work seven days a week, 12 hours a day to make a decent wage. However, over the years, the level of service has plummeted. Many of them overcharge. They smoke while driving. The taxi is filthy. They drive with the foot constantly on the brake. Overall, it can be an unpleasant experience.

And yet they want to stop Uber in Hong Kong. I am hoping, praying, that Uber is allowed to continue providing an excellent service to us Hong Kong citizens.

Anthony Solimini, Wan Chai

Emergency landing was dramatised

I would like to correct some erroneous impressions given in various reports of the emergency landing required of the Cathay Pacific Flight 884 from Hong Kong to Los Angeles on July 29. I was on board the Boeing 777.

While the incident was indeed frightening and not one that passengers or crew would be keen to repeat, one newspaper's assertion that "the aircraft filled with smoke" was untrue. Nor did I see or hear any "warning signs going off" or crew "running around like crazy". Their movements were urgent but controlled.

I did not notice any jettisoning of fuel (in fact, the captain said later that we had come in "heavy"), or any sudden drop in altitude accompanied by any discomfort in the ears. That simply didn't happen. Thankfully, it was a normal landing, as normal as an emergency landing at a second world war airbase, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, can be.

The cockpit and cabin crew did an excellent job in difficult circumstances. I'm sure they were all as stressed and anxious as the passengers were.

S. McCarty, Happy Valley

Registration of birth is vital for children

Child advocates have been arguing for decades that inaction - with or without the intention to harm, such as leaving children unattended - may contribute to the risks and danger of a child and hence is a form of neglect.

Now we are asking: is failing to register births a form of neglect?

Why does the law require every parent to register a child in the first place?

Birth registration provides the first permanent, official and visible legal recognition of the child as a member of society. It helps to prove identity and thus entitlement to basic rights, such as enabling a child to receive medical treatment, go to school, inherit property, travel abroad and so on.

Thus, a failure to register a child's birth is a deprivation, if not outright violation, of a child's basic rights. While parents of course must be properly guided to shoulder this basic responsibility, the Hospital Authority, the Immigration Department and the Department of Justice all have roles to play.

The recent tragedy involving an adolescent girl who leapt to her death never had a birth registration. It was said that a charge against the mother, of ill-treatment or neglect, was dropped due to "lack of evidence" ("Father of death-leap girl on three charges, August 14).

What evidence is lacking has yet to be explained.

We do believe the Department of Justice has an important role in ensuring the best interests of the children in Hong Kong are served.

Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, vice-chairperson of Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights

Stranded scouts were disciplined

I refer to Yonden Lhatoo's article, "Let's not turn Hong Kong's young into namby-pamby kids" (August 14).

Mr Lhatoo believed those stranded scouts at the Taipei airport could not manage themselves even though their motto required them to "Be Prepared". But if being prepared means being able to stay calm to handle problems we come across, those scouts were an excellent example.

They were disciplined. Some stranded passengers make trouble at the airport; our scouts didn't. They kept quiet and patiently waited.

While the "Kong Kids" would cry for their parents and refuse to cooperate, those scouts did not cry on the phone to their parents and shared their snacks with friends. Even when the airline service was terrible, they did not complain. Some of them even said that it was a precious experience.

Although I wasn't stranded in the airport, I can feel my friends' perseverance and discipline from their messages.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town