Letters to the Editor, September 27, 2015
Schools can help fix child obesity
I am concerned about the problem of obesity among students in Hong Kong.
There are many studies proving that young people from less-privileged families are more likely to be obese and not get enough exercise. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. It's a very serious problem.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.
In the short term, obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In the long term, being overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer.
The reason they are obese is largely because they are from low-income familes. The may lack the knowledge to prepare healthy meals. Also, they may not be able to afford fresh fruit and vegetables.
Nowadays students focus on academic results and spend most of the time on revision and tutorials.
Schools can play a critical role by allowing students to learn about and practise healthy eating and physical activity behaviour.
Poor familes also should get government subsidies so they can have a healthier diet.
Zoe Chan, Tai Po
EU should build camps and sit tight
The European refugee crisis has continued for a few months now. The Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have forced millions to flee the Middle East and Africa to seek asylum, dividing leaders across Europe.
Western Europe is much richer than the eastern part. Many eastern European countries like Poland and Serbia were part of the Eastern Bloc which was aligned with the Soviet Union during the cold war. Since the fall of communism, they have remained much poorer than their western neighbours. Also, many European countries such as Greece and Spain are facing a debt crisis in economic terms so they are unwilling to take many refugees. The European Union is facing a dilemma. In terms of humanity, it must take in all refugees. However, there is an issue of race, with many nationals not happy to have migrants living around them. Just like in Hong Kong, localism is advocated by some citizens.
Without United Nations authorisation, the Nato military alliance can't intervene in Syria and Iraq. With Russia backing Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, it's hard to imagine the refugee crisis ending before the conclusion of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
European countries could consider Hong Kong's solution to the Vietnam boat people crisis, almost four decades ago. Hong Kong built camps in the countryside for the refugees. Then in the 1990s, when Vietnam initiated economic reforms, Hong Kong started to repatriate refugees The European countries can imitate this method, then wait for an end to the Iraq and Syria civil wars.
Thomas Au Yeung Kwong-fai, Tsuen Wan
Border traders a sore point getting worse
I refer to the report ("Parallel traders back in Hong Kong after 'useless' four-day crackdown by mainland Chinese authorities", September 19).
In my opinion, the problem of cross-border trade is becoming more serious.
Small shops in affected areas near the border have changed to pharmacies and electronics stores to meet the demands of mainland visitors.
Although those kinds of shops can improve the economy of Hong Kong, it will definitely affect the retail sector.
Besides, in recent years there have been increasing numbers of parallel traders coming into Hong Kong. Many purchase milk powder, which can be resold for profit across the border. However, it causes the problem of lack of stock and some local parents complain they can't buy for their children.
The initiative by the authorities in Shenzhen to limit cross-border trips for its permanent residents was a good move. Its recent brief crackdown on parallel traders must also be welcomed but it doesn't go far enough. The authorities on both sides of the border must work together and come up with appropriate measures to solve this problem of parallel traders, otherwise it will affect local parents and local shops.
Ko Kwan-ho, Tseung Kwan O
Lead levels must be controlled
We all know that lead does not occur naturally in drinking water. It is used to glue pipes cheaply during construction of water supply systems.
To prevent its damaging effect on children and adults, government, architects and contractors must control the amount of lead that is used.
Shiu Lee, Central
Oh, for some peace and quiet on ferries
I refer to the letter by Eric Taylor ("Time to scrap nannying MTR messages", September 16).
If there was a prize for the most stupid messages, First Ferry would win every time. When I board the ferry in Mui Wo, the messages start with "Welcome aboard", but soon change to the silliest things imaginable, "No gambling during the voyage".
Then it goes on and on with one message sillier than the other, in three languages, of course. During the middle of the journey, there is a short pause, but when we get to Central, it starts again asking us to keep our seat belts on (what seat belts?) and to leave the ferry immediately. How big is the problem with passengers refusing to leave the ferry? I sent them an email asking why they did it, and that they might at least say something sensible like "Do not touch the life vests unless there is an emergency".
I got a very polite response hinting that there are some obscure regulations they have to follow if they don't want to lose their licence.
I think they were a little surprised that I took the time to look them up, and was able to inform First Ferry that there is nothing about messages, silly or not, in regulations. They probably got a little embarrassed, because they then said they would not comment further. But they did include some of my suggestions, so now the time of peace and quiet is even shorter.
Will Mr Taylor's or my letter have an effect?
That would mean some managers might lose face, so I hardly think so.
Sven Topp, Lantau
Keep iconic trams for a change of pace
I am writing to argue against the removal of the tram route from Central to Admiralty. Some people think that trams are the source of traffic congestion but many take trams as a way to relax. Our trams are iconic and should be preserved because they are part of our cultural and collective memory. Besides, many historical and educational heritage sites have been demolished. If the tram route is cut, there will only be shopping malls and no more valuable cultural assets.
Apart from this, the traffic jams from Central to Admiralty aren't because the trams move slowly. It's the many office blocks that need servicing by cars and vans.
Most Hongkongers lead fast-paced lives and the trams give them time to relax and enjoy their lives.
Jocelyn Ho, Ma On Shan