Letters to the Editor, September 11, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 3:17pm

Walking on escalators is not dangerous

I refer to the report ("Stand still, don't walk! But is anyone really listening?" September 1) and Wong Hiu-yan's letter ("Standing still is safest option on escalator", September 3).

They are both accompanied by photographs in which nobody on the escalators appears to be walking, but most appear to be distracted.

Some are on their mobile phones, one man is standing in the middle with both hands in his pockets, a woman who appears to be with children is not watching them. Few seem to be concentrating on what they are doing. Is this what the MTR is trying to achieve? If so, good news for them: they've done it.

I have been using escalators for 70 years.

I would like to be able to say that I have never witnessed an accident on an escalator, but the truth is that the only accident I have ever witnessed was early last year, and it happened to me. I slipped and fell on one of the very few occasions when I was standing still and holding the rail. Probably, because I was standing still, I wasn't concentrating.

There is no danger in walking on escalators provided that those standing keep to the right. What the MTR, and other escalator operators in Hong Kong should be saying is: "If you want to stand, stay on the right; keep your goods and chattels on the right; keep your children and elderly on the right; keep your husbands, wives, lovers and friends on the right; keep the left clear." Then everyone will be a lot safer.

Contravening widely recognised conventions is at best inconvenient, at worst highly dangerous.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung 

Has MTR Corp done any research?

I refer to the ongoing discussion about walking up and down escalators in MTR Corporation stations.

I wonder if the MTR has carried out a comparison between the number of accidents caused by people walking up or down escalators compared to accidents caused by:


  • People keeping their eyes only on their mobile phones not paying a blind bit of attention to what is going on in case they miss a bit of the movie or TV programme;



  • People not holding the handrail as they have one hand on their bag and one on their phone;



  • People pushing and trying to cut into the front of a busy queue at the start of the escalator;



  • Those with excessively large bags or boxes including those on trolleys;



  • Children not being adequately supervised and the elderly who should be using the lifts (assuming there is one installed); and,



  • Those who block either the top or bottom while changing their mind, hesitating or just simply not caring about all those passengers following them.


Those who do want to walk up and down the escalator are doing it through choice and perfectly able to do it safely.

John Campbell, Discovery Bay

Germans have shown genuine compassion

I refer to the report ("Cheering crowds welcome refugees to Germany", September 7).

It said that Germany expected "to take in 800,000 refugees this year at a cost of €10 billion (HK$86 billion)".

I was taken aback by this figure, and not just the sheer scale, but the fact that these refugees are willing to take such risks to have a better life.

When I see the selfless behaviour of the German people, it makes me wonder how we would react if something similar happened in Hong Kong.

There are cultural differences to consider with people coming from very different backgrounds.

It also made me think about the conflicts which have broken out sometimes between Hongkongers and mainland visitors, because of disagreements over what is considered to be acceptable behaviour.

On more practical matters I would be concerned about the strain that would be put on resources in general and especially welfare services. People might be welcoming initially, but change their minds when, for example, faced with even longer waits in public hospitals.

I really appreciate the selfless attitude of Germany's citizens.

Lee Tsz-chung, Tseung Kwan O

All European nations must take refugees

It would be unreasonable for any European countries not to accept the refugees who are flooding in, in huge numbers, from the Middle East to escape war and poverty.

While there are economic migrants who try to get into Europe illegally, I am sure most of these refugees are from Syria and have fled, because of the civil war and the strong prospect of death.

They have a right to be given the chance to have better lives. They are entitled to enjoy the same human rights as the rest of us and to have the chance of a brighter future.

Many of them are able to work. They will be able to make a contribution to those countries in Europe where they are allowed to resettle.

All EU countries should take responsibility for their resettlement as this is a vast problem.

Of course the best solution will be the end of the civil war in Syria.

Carol Mo Ka-wai, Tseung Kwan O 

Think very carefully about career choices

Many Hongkongers find it difficult to achieve the right work-life balance and this is what makes them stressed.

I realise that many citizens have difficulty enjoying their lives, because they are overworked.

Even when they take a holiday they have difficulty relaxing, because they are still thinking about work, the deadlines they face and the projects they still have to complete.

It is important for people to try and find jobs and careers that suit them. There are people who are able to get a great deal of job satisfaction.

However, often individuals will choose a job because it has a good salary and career prospects.

This may lead to them choosing subjects in the Diploma of Secondary Education that can help them reach those career goals rather than subjects which interest them.

A career can be for life and when we are choosing one I do not think we should focus on becoming well-off. We should recognise that it is hard to feel stressed if you are happy in your job.

Having the right attitude is also important.

If you are in a job where you are constantly worried about job security and meeting work targets, it will be hard to relieve the stress.

People need to learn to be positive and optimistic in the workplace. And while they should work hard, they also need to learn to relax.

When they have worked long hours they should reward themselves with a lovely meal or a new smartphone.

If possible people should try and find a job that suits them and that will not lead to them overworking.

Eric Tang, Sha Tin

Firms can help cut workloads of employees

I agree with correspondents who have written about the long hours many Hongkongers spend in the office, on a workaholic treadmill.

It is bad for their physical and psychological health. Consequently this can make them less efficient and productive so it is also bad for their employers. This is why companies should be doing more to curb the practice of people working long hours.

We first need to ask why so many people are working overtime. In some sectors, such as construction, it comes down to a labour shortage. This leads to many construction workers being on site until late at night.

There is also the prevailing culture of working long hours, the perception that you are not doing your job properly if you do not work overtime.

Now with new technology you also have people taking their work home with them. Employers should help staff to find the right work-life balance by making sure they have reasonable workloads.

They can do this by hiring sufficient workers and cut out tasks and meetings that are not deemed to be necessary. Reducing the workload of employees is the best way to boost morale.

Firms should also make it clear that staff will be promoted based on their performance, not on how many hours they work. They should also consider conducting seminars on work-life balance to help them better manage their workloads and eliminate unproductive habits.

Finally, managers should be banned from calling or messaging staff out of hours, except for emergencies.

Jenny Suen, Sha Tin 

Tianjin tragedy raises concern over safety

The whole nation was shocked by the blasts at a warehouse in Tianjin last month. It raised a number of issues which must be looked at.

It is clear the hazardous chemicals being stored in the warehouse were too close to residences. What safety standards were in place and did the warehouse owners comply with them? There have so far been no satisfactory answers from officials.

I do not think journalists covering the disaster are being given all the information they require. It reminds me of the cases of the poorly-constructed buildings destroyed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, that were known as "tofu" structures because they were so flimsy.

Health issues in the aftermath of the disaster still have to be addressed. For example, did any chemicals pollute ground water?

The central government must face all these issues and give affected residents all the help they need.

Shing Chun-yui, Yau Yat Chuen