Letters to the Editor, October 13, 2015
Quality of life worse in Sheung Shui
Over the past few weeks, there have been letters from several people admonishing residents of New Territories towns such as Sheung Shui for their negative reaction to mainland visitors. However, I note with bitter irony that none of these people actually live in these towns.
I have been a resident of Sheung Shui for various periods of time since 1999, and over the past few years, I have seen the quality of life deteriorate significantly in the area. Much of this has been due to the daily influx of people from over the border.
At certain times of the day, the train station is inundated with people, many of whom are pushing carts, trolleys and suitcases, making it extremely difficult to enter and exit and posing a significant safety hazard. The security staff are largely ignored in the crush.
It's impossible to walk comfortably around the shopping areas of Sheung Shui as piles of waste cardboard, together with people loitering outside the many pharmacies, block the pavements, making it necessary to walk on the road. At the end of the day, the place is strewn with discarded packaging, plastic, styrofoam and other waste. Queues in shops, restaurants and public toilets are routinely very long.
We are told that such visitors, many of whom deal in parallel trading, are apparently now a vital source of income for Hong Kong.
However, I feel this is an over-simplification. Certainly the owners and shareholders of large companies selling milk powder and pharmacy items should be happy. Landlords are also doing very well as rents on shops and houses have increased significantly over recent years. Unfortunately, many smaller, locally owned shops selling everyday items have closed, making way for jewellers, watch and cosmetics retailers.
The real cost of parallel trading is being borne by the residents of towns like Sheung Shui, and I suggest that those who support these daily visitors take a trip to see for themselves the negative effect they have on the quality of life here. Just don't expect to get a seat on the train.
Stephen Potts, Sheung Shui
Change of mindset is long overdue
The issue of organ donations has been brought into sharp focus in Hong Kong, following the death of Jamella Mangali Lo at Queen Mary Hospital last week.
It was tragic that she was not able to get a double lung transplant.
Thanks to medical advances in the last few decades, more patients can benefit from organ donations.
These operations play a significant part in enhancing people's lives.
However, unlike other parts of the world, organ donations are not that common in Hong Kong.
Many citizens are reluctant to register as donors, because of their adherence to traditional Chinese culture. Under these beliefs, the corpse should remain intact.
This ingrained mindset has caused problems even if someone has decided to register as a donor.
After death, permission still needs to be given to the hospital by family members and sometimes they are reluctant to give this permission and the organs cannot be harvested.
These family members should respect the wishes of their departed relative who wanted to donate his or her organs.
They need to realise they are saving the lives of other patients by allowing the organs of their relative to be harvested.
Chung Miu-shan, Kowloon Tong
Laws needed to deal with light pollution
The government has to introduce tougher legislation to curb the problem of light pollution.
Bright lights on high-rise buildings in Hong Kong cause a lot of problems for people. For one thing, in some parts of the city, you cannot see the night sky.
Also, light pollution for residents living near these buildings can disturb their sleep. This can do physical and psychological damage as it affects people's biological clock.
Also, with so many lights on late into the night, a great deal of energy is wasted.
This means that more coal is being burned in the coal-fired plants which operate in Hong Kong, and this causes more air pollution and contributes to global warming.
This form of light pollution can also disturb the migratory pattern of some birds. There can be fatalities when birds collide with brightly-lit advertising hoardings.
A survey has found that Hong Kong has the worst light pollution in the world, which is why legislation is needed to control it.
It needs to be clear so that citizens and companies can follow it.
Firms need to know what the punishment will be if they contravene the anti-light pollution laws.
Elvis Yam, Tseung Kwan O
Government must address housing issue
I refer to the report "Calls for help after tragedy in McDonald's" (October 5).
The problem of homeless people in Hong Kong appears to be getting worse.
There are a lot of what are now known as "McRefugees" in the city.
Homeless people will often stay in one of the 24-hour McDonald's restaurants overnight. This is what happened to the woman who passed away in one of the eateries.
There can be no doubt that homelessness has become a serious problem in Hong Kong. There are a lot of elderly and others on low incomes who cannot afford decent accommodation.
Some of them might have enough for a subdivided unit while others cannot even afford that.
Some of them therefore have no choice but to sleep on the streets. They will sleep wherever they can find a space in the city.
Housing and the lack of public estates to meet demand is a serious problem that has to be addressed.
It has not been recognised or dealt with by our society.
However, it is a problem that we can no longer ignore in Hong Kong.
There will always be people who slip through the cracks and end up homeless. But help should be made available for them.
The government needs to pay more attention to them. There are available areas of land where more public housing can be built.
The government needs to accelerate its public housing building programme.
It needs to come up with short-term and long-term policies, which enable homeless people to get the help they need.
Michael Chow, Tseung Kwan O
MTR Corp should try to be consistent
There has been a lot of debate in the press about the girl who was not allowed to travel on the MTR because her Chinese musical instrument, the guzheng, was considered to be too large and contravened the MTR Corporation's by-laws.
Photos appeared online and went viral of MTR staff talking to the student and explaining why she could not board a train. Some people said that the members of staff did the right thing, but others do not agree with such actions.
I can understand why staff might enforce this rule at stations like Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu. They are filled with a lot of visitors from the mainland with luggage and people going north of the border.
They often bring huge bags. I have even seen people with furniture and electrical appliances, including fridges and washing machines.
Last week, I saw a woman carrying a wooden chair.
I do not understand why washing machines and chairs are allowed on the MTR's trains, but not large musical instruments.
Staff seem to be operating a selective policy, banning some people and turning a blind eye to others. I think this attitude has to change.
Some people are dependent on the MTR to get around, including musicians.
They may not have any choice in the matter and it would be very difficult if they were not allowed to board the trains.
The MTR Corp has to look closely at luggage regulations and be crystal clear about what baggage size allowances it will decide on.
I think it should be willing to issue exemptions for people carrying large musical instruments, otherwise, it will be difficult for them to get around the city.
Also, if it says that people with really large items like fridges and washing machines are not allowed on the trains, then it has to make this clear and ensure that staff enforce the regulations.
Choi Lok-yiu, Yau Yat Chuen
What about other law deans' PhDs?
As was revealed following the meeting of the University of Hong Kong council (in an inexcusable violation of confidentiality), one reason given for not confirming a recommendation to appoint former law dean Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to the post of pro-vice-chancellor was his lack of a PhD.
No doubt, the PhD status of all other law deans at universities in Hong Kong was debated on that occasion.
Would it be churlish to suggest that somebody break confidentiality in the matter, in the interest of your readers, of course?
P. Kevin MacKeown, Lantau