Letters to the Editor, September 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 4:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 4:05pm

Since when are escalators not for walkers?

I refer to the letter by Vincent Chow, for the director of electrical and mechanical services ("Standing still effective way to prevent escalator accidents", September 14).

On what evidence does Mr Chow base his claim that escalators "are not designed to be walked on"?

Escalators all over the world are designed to be walked on, and have been for more than 100 years. It would be grossly irresponsible to design them any other way. Most responsible, fit adults will walk on them, quite safely, if given the chance.

He says: "Most escalator accidents in Hong Kong are due to inappropriate passenger behaviour". Of course they are: almost all accidents, of any type, in any situation, are due to inappropriate behaviour. No sensible person would dispute that.

However, he does not give any examples of inappropriate behaviour on escalators, so I will do it for him.

It comprises running, racing, sitting on the handrail, trying to travel in the "wrong direction", using and concentrating on a phone and (a common habit of people standing) facing backwards to talk to someone behind. But it also includes blocking, or partially blocking, the side where people are trying to walk.

I would like to see some evidence that walking responsibly on an escalator is ever the root cause of an accident.

Will the MTR and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department please wake up and realise that you are in a small minority on the wrong side?

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Syrian asylum seekers' cases more urgent

I am concerned that the Immigration Department will treat future applications for asylum by Syrians the same way as any other applicant ("Syrian in HK seeks asylum status", September 9).

This could mean that some Syrians, if they come and their application fails, could end up being repatriated. Applications from Syrian refugees should be seen as urgent cases.

They have fled their country to avoid the civil war there and are seeking help in places they know nothing about. These are cases which deserve a humanitarian response.

Hong Kong has experience in dealing with a lot of refugees. Thousands of Vietnamese boat people sought asylum here in the 1980s. Many of them were eventually relocated in the West, and some still live here. There are around 10,000 people here (from different countries) seeking refugee status, this is a much smaller number than the Vietnamese.

If more Syrians come here and seek shelter, the Hong Kong government has sufficient resources to help them, and we should do so.

This international city has a responsibility to help people who have fled conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.

Lam Pak-ning, Tseung Kwan O

Soccer team deserving of our support

The Hong Kong soccer team has been in the news recently because of qualifying matches for the Fifa World Cup in Russia in 2018.

The team attracted a lot of public attention when it drew with China. And although it narrowly lost its match against Qatar, Hong Kong citizens are still proud of the team and will continue to support it in its upcoming qualifiers.

However, the team does not get as much support as I would like to see.

Many Hongkongers think the quality of local soccer is poor and prefer to watch the more popular leagues from abroad.

However, all citizens need to recognise that they live here in Hong Kong.

If they do not turn up to the stadium to support the Hong Kong team, then who will?

I accept that the standard of soccer played here may not be as high as elsewhere, but that is no reason not to show our support. After all, Hong Kong is our home.

I think parents should go along with their children. Families should be out in force to back the Hong Kong team.

I hope that over time, standards will improve and the team will become a more potent force in future qualifiers.

In the meantime, let's go to the stadium for the next World Cup qualifier and back our team. They could really do with our support.

Roy Cheung, Lam Tin

Crackdowns called for on minibuses

Hong Kong's minibuses are an asset in a sprawling city that has so many twisting roads to far-flung destinations that large buses cannot navigate.

For some students, minibuses also become the de facto school bus. For the elderly, they are a lifeline to the community and family. Yet others may just see them as a disaster in waiting, including those who share the road with the green- and red-topped vehicles.

As a passenger, I would like to describe one of my experiences in the hope that, in some way, the government and the minibuses operators are made clearly aware of the safety risks that passengers face because of negligence on behalf of operators and the recklessness of some drivers.

Earlier this month, I was on a minibus that was driving downhill in the rain with the speed sign flashing "84". When the driver saw the traffic lights had turned red, he hit the brakes. The minibus immediately began to fishtail. The experience was terrifying as I did not know if it would stop in time to avoid a collision at the intersection, or would gain traction at the wrong angle and send the vehicle off the road or into the other lane of traffic.

The next day, I checked the treads on many of the tyres at a minibus hub next to Hong Sing Garden and found many of the tyres to be bare. Who is in charge of ensuring these vehicles are safe?

Will it take the deaths of a minibus full of students to address negligence in maintenance and ill-advised driving? Are these drivers not aware of whom they are transporting?

Or are they just driving madly to get to their next smoke break?

It is so much easier to prevent a disaster than to deal with the aftermath of one.

Ryan Culliton, Tseung Kwan O

Donation of organs should be promoted

Because of traditional Chinese beliefs, many Hongkongers are reluctant to register as organ donors. They think it shows no respect for the dead if their organs are harvested for transplants.

There is a greater willingness among the younger generation to register, but many teens may be put off by their parents, who still adhere to this traditional belief. In the short term, it will be difficult to change people's attitudes.

The government has not done enough to promote, through advertising, the importance of registering as a donor.

Fong Chung-yin, Yau Yat Chuen

Basic Law conflict must be resolved

I refer to the speech by Zhang Xiaoming , chief of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, about the separation of powers in Hong Kong ("Authority of the chief executive is above all: Beijing", September 13).

I do not accept his argument that the chief executive is "above the executive, legislative and judicial institutions".

There is no law which specifically states the three institutions are separate.

However, Article 52 of the Basic Law states that the chief executive must resign if the Legislative Council is dissolved after the leader refuses to sign a bill it has passed and the new Legco again passes it. In other words, only Legco will decide whether to pass a piece of legislation, not the chief executive.

I agree with former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang, who, when referring to the Hong Kong system, talked of "checks and balances between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary" branches ("Beijing official's view contradicts city's top judges", September 13).

This matter must be resolved by the Hong Kong government as soon as possible.

Lee Wing-yi, Tseung Kwan O 

Spending big on education no guarantee

I refer to the report ("Six private schools push fees up more than 20pc", September 10).

I think fees in private schools in Hong Kong are too high, and I am sure they have become unaffordable for some parents. Pushing fees up does not necessarily mean the quality of teaching will improve.

However, many parents send their children to these schools or abroad, rather than have them taught in the local education system.

Some of these parents seem to think that the more money they spend, the better the chances of their sons and daughters achieving good academic results. But you cannot always buy academic excellence.

Parents do not always understand this, and the more they spend, the greater the pressure they impose on their children. They are aware of how much is being spent to educate them and try even harder, even if expectations exceed what they can realistically achieve.

Private schools should be honest during the enrolment process and explain that no matter how much is spent on such things as fees, textbooks and extracurricular activities, this is no guarantee of success.

Students should simply be encouraged to try their best without having unrealistic targets set for them.

The government also needs to review its overall education policy, especially with competition for university places being so fierce.

Suki Lee, Hang Hau