Letters to the editor, December 28, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 December, 2015, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 December, 2015, 12:15am

Passengers must always wear seat belts

I was deeply upset by the fatal crash involving a minibus and truck on December 18 at Pat Heung as I live nearby.

I think this tragedy should bring home to all of us the importance of safe driving and wearing seat belts.

Some experts claim there can be a substantial reduction in casualties if people wear seat belts. Where they are fitted, we are obliged by law to strap in, but not everyone appears to be aware of this. On those minibuses where they are fitted, many people still do not use them. I hope after this accident, people will now use seat belts on all occasions.

Parents have to recognise the importance of ensuring their children are strapped in. Motorists should always have the ­necessary child safety seats ­installed.

The government needs to do more to raise public awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts. It should also allow courts to impose stiffer penalties for drivers found guilty of unsafe driving, including longer custodial sentences where appropriate. Hopefully, this can act as a deterrent and make our roads safer.

Yuen Tsz-shan, Yuen Long

Oil price drop not reflected at petrol pumps

With oil prices plumbing new lows on a daily basis, is the ­consumer in Hong Kong getting the full effect?

To me, it seems not, as petrol prices remain stubbornly high. The petrol companies now seem to be offering a variety of ­discounts at the pump but I ­suspect these are simply to cover the fact that they are not passing on the full effect of oil prices that are at lows not seen for many years.

Meanwhile, we hear of likely reductions in electricity prices next year which is worthy of a cheer, but what about transport costs? Where are the reductions in bus, minibus, ferry and taxi fares, or are the benefits of lower fuel prices being allowed to flow into just a few pockets?

It’s time the Transport Department woke up to the 70 per cent fall in oil prices over the past 12 months and made sure these price reductions feed back to the public, delivering a 15 to 20 per cent reduction in all our transport costs.

This is a livelihood matter for all of Hong Kong and our elected politicians should be getting their heads around it.

Bob Rogers, Sai Kung

Questioning bad air, carbon emissions link

Kevin Rafferty in his article (“Fragile beginning”, December 17) claims that carbon emissions are responsible for smog and air pollution in China.

Carbon emissions are ­simply carbon dioxide emissions and nothing else and they are not pollutants. Rather, trees absorb carbon emissions and grow.

Rafferty then praises Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as leading environmentalists. Again, I must take issue with this claim. All three use private jets and produce more carbon emissions in a week than most people do in a lifetime. Branson makes his money from flying jumbo jets around the world and is going to fly rockets into space. These businessmen are spin doctors and are being hypocritical.

Those who talk about the need to reduce carbon emissions are the biggest emitters of carbon. These billionaires and other tycoons use their vast wealth to control the media and brainwash people into believing carbon emissions cause bad air quality. If they really believed that, they would not be using private jets and would lead by example. Rafferty should focus on reducing pollution not misleading people by continually claiming that carbon emissions cause bad air quality.

Carbon emissions are simply carbon dioxide emissions and are not the causes of bad air quality. To clean up China’s air quality, filters need to be fitted to power plants to remove pollutants. Reducing carbon emissions will not do anything to improve air quality.

Luk Chan, Wan Chai

Overprotective parents are bad for students

Helicopter parents are those mothers and fathers who plan everything for their children.

They expect their children to obey them on all matters and will usually punish them if they fail to do this.

Social workers point out that, often, children are annoyed to be controlled in this way and, as a consequence, may have unhappy childhoods.

I believe these overprotective parents are more common in countries in Asia.

They fill their children’s spare time with a lot of different classes and extracurricular activities, even before they attend kindergarten.

Many of these parents work long hours so they often are unable to spend much quality time with their sons and daughters.

Some of these children grow up with poor social skills. For example, they are reluctant to meet strangers and struggle with the challenges most of us face in our lives.

This type of parenting should not be encouraged in our society and teachers should try and halt this growing trend.

When children fail to accomplish certain tasks, their parents should take a supportive rather than a punitive approach.

Parents should encourage their children to sometimes take risks.

I don’t mean they should put them in situations where they face potential danger, but they need to learn to look after themselves as they will have to do this when they grow up.

The government and educators should encourage better parenting styles.

Jack Leung Wai-keung, Tsuen Wan

Crack down on firms making wild claims

I have some concerns about business ethics and the way some companies deal with them in Hong Kong.

Firms should be ­dealing in a morally and socially responsible way towards their employees, competitors, the environment, creditors and customers or clients.

Despite certain regulations being in place under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, some companies continue to make exaggerated claims about the products they sell. So, for ­example, a company selling a brand of toothpaste might claim it can kill 99 per cent of bacteria, arguing it is not guilty of unfair practices as it did not claim 100 per cent.

You see adverts almost every day in which companies exaggerate the efficacy of a product and maybe have a cave at in small print at the bottom.

There needs to be tighter control over these adverts by the Consumer Council, so that consumers’ rights are properly protected.

The government must try to ensure the maintenance, wherever possible, of a fair and ethical business environment in Hong Kong, so that the city remains competitive as mainland cities try to attract more foreign investors.

Poon Wing-man, Yau Yat Chuen

Country parks wrong location for new flats

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has once again recently talked of the possibility of allocating some country park land for housing and also implementing new land reclamation projects.

Many people have expressed concerned about turning land in country parks into public housing estates.

There is a desperate lack of available ­public housing apartments, but I do not think that justifies exploiting our natural environment.

These parks have unique ecological value. Most Hongkongers lead very stressful lives. These country parks give them an opportunity to relax in a beautiful natural environment and relieve some of that stress.

They offer biodiversity, and if homes were built, then some wildlife and fauna habitats could be threatened. The best parks attract visitors from abroad. I believe that they should be maintained at all costs.

There is still a lot of land in Hong Kong outside the country parks which remains undeveloped and which has a lot of potential. Also, there are several districts which are ripe for redevelopment and which would be perfect locations for new ­housing estates.

Developing country parks is a very short-sighted approach, which would be adopted to make short-term gains.

We need to look at the long-term picture in order to have a sustainable public housing ­policy. I will continue to oppose the chief executive when he puts forward this idea.

Rachel Ma, Yau Yat Chuen

There is a good case for axing TSA in schools

Over the last few months, parents have been up in arms about the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for Primary Three pupils. They want drilling for the test to stop in schools, arguing that children already have too much homework every day.

However, these parents are exaggerating the problem a bit. The material in the TSA is taught in class and the students should know it. Also, parents should not place all the blame on local schools, as they often sign their children up for a lot extracurricular activities, which gives the children little time to rest and do homework, for example, to prepare for the TSA.

Having said that, I think the parents do have a point and I am not convinced the TSA is necessary. The government could cancel it. If it wants to see how a school is performing, it can look at schools’ overall exam results.

Instead of being obsessed with good exam and test results, schools should be focusing on ensuring their students enjoy a good learning environment and that they are happy with their studies.

Christy Lam, Tseung Kwan O