Letters to the Editor, August 30, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 August, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 August, 2015, 12:01am

Keep iconic trams for old time's sake

I could not agree more with Raymond Lok ("Trams are the greener option for Hong Kong", August 24) that Hong Kong's tram services should not be scrapped.

Trams are a nostalgic form of transport and an endearing Hong Kong icon. Apart from the environmental benefits mentioned, the sentimental ties between trams and Hongkongers are the main reason they should be preserved.

The slow-moving trams have been blamed for being inefficient but they are the only transport that allows Hongkongers to take a short breather during their fast-paced lives. They are not only a cheaper way to travel compared with trains and buses but provide consistently steadier services.

These double-deck tramcars, affectionately known as "ding-ding" because of their approaching bells, are also full of Hongkongers' collective memories. They are part of our cultural landscape and have been for more than 100 years.

In the past, they were so popular that citizens living on Hong Kong Island used them every day. During typhoons, many relied on them. Now, they are often a refuge for romantic couples.

For many foreigners and tourists, the lumbering trams are one of the emblems representing Hong Kong; for our society, they have played a pivotal role in our culture and heritage; for many Hongkongers, they are an inseparable part of our collective memories.

However advanced the city is or becomes, our authentic roots should not be forgotten. We must strike a balance between developing the new and preserving the old.

Trams have always been an indispensable part of our city's history. Hopefully, they can stand the test of time.

Clover Lau, Ma On Shan 

'Ding-dings' not to blame for traffic jams

I refer to the article ("Locals rail against plan to scrap trams", August 21). I don't think that getting rid of trams can help improve the traffic flows on Hong Kong Island.

According to retired town planner Sit Kwok-keung, trams occupied about 30 per cent of the surface area of the roads where they operated and they are the main cause of traffic congestion.

I've been to Central and see many private cars and vans parked on the side of the roads. Other motorists are forced to drive on the track of the trams and as a result, the trams have to stop frequently in order to avoid accidents.

The main reason for traffic congestion is that too many private cars carrying few passengers, or none, are clogging the roads.

A report by Friends of the Earth in May showed that more than 40 per cent of the cars driving on the road in Central in peak times are private cars. Trams occupied no more than 5 per cent. I hope the point is clear.

Actually, trams have been with us for more than 110 years. It is a transport mode beloved by many Hongkongers. These "ding-dings" are always an important option for residents. The government should not remove them.

Philip Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Fraudsters cash in on easy information

In recent months, the number of telephone scams in Hong Kong has risen dramatically.

According to Hong Kong police, they have received around 2,000 reports of telephone deception between January and July and in nearly 400 cases the fraudsters have been successful.

But why would the incidence of telephone deception be rising? From my point of view, it is because of advances in information technology. For instance, social-networking sites may contain a user's personal information, including phone number. Swindlers may hack into the database of some firms and steal a customer's personal information. On the whole, because of the convenience of internet and electronic products, fraudsters can grab information everywhere. Had we avoided making some of our personal information public, the fraudsters would have no opportunity to take advantage of us.

The connection of Hong Kong and the mainland is another factor.

The individual visit scheme allows mainland residents to freely visit Hong Kong but also attracts fraudsters from over the border. Impersonating mainland officials and law enforcement agents is a common method swindlers use. Hong Kong police must cooperate with mainland officials and take urgent action.

If we receive suspicious phone calls, we should seek verification. Keep calm and stay alert to help prevent being defrauded.

Tsui Wing-ki, Kowloon Tong 

Tianjin blasts expose lack of transparency

I am writing to complain about the central government's handling of the r Tianjin blasts.

Firstly, before the blasts, the government did not do enough to monitor the Ruihai International Logistics, where the explosion took place.

As documents show, this factory stored tonnes of materials that are categorised as "dangerous". How could the relevant authorities permit it to be built right beside a residential area in Tianjin?

Moreover, this factory stored more than 70 times the permitted amount of sodium cyanide. The company lacked essential safety equipment and procedures to handle such an emergency but undoubtedly, the government is to blame for its lack of inspections.

Secondly, the transparency of this incident and the government's research is disappointingly low. Some mainlanders criticised slow media updates and some netizen complaints were censored by the government.

In conclusion, lack of transparency has become a trademark of the Chinese government and again in the Tianjin blasts. I hope the Beijing can change its attitude and actions.

Jason Chuang, Tseung Kwan O 

Schools the best solution for most

I am writing about a father who chooses home- schooling as a learning mode for his son ("Father chooses private education for son over Hong Kong's 'spoon-fed'school system", August 24).

The father commented that the local "spoon-fed and rigid" education system cannot develop the potential of his son.

This child doesn't seem to have any special educational need that local schools may not be able to satisfy.

Children who are home-schooled may lose the chance to fully develop the potential that teachers can tap into at school.

The father may also consider arranging study at direct-subsidised schools or international schools, which offer less homework. His son could also study overseas.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Private drivers can ease taxi headache

I ask that those members of the Transport Advisory Committee opposed to giving taxi licences to private drivers (like Uber) take their families up to The Peak on a Saturday evening and try to get home.

You can either queue up for The Peak Tram in the heat with no shelter (one hour), queue for a bus (45 minutes), or hail a taxi.

Most of the taxis will have turned their meters off and sit there charging HK$350 to take you to Central.

This will only worsen when the Avenue of Stars closes its doors to tourists in Tsim Sha Tsui, and they all flock to The Peak. Bring on Uber is all I can say.

Deirdre Stratton, Discovery Bay