Letters to the Editor, July 3, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 12:31pm

Responsibility of all to look out for mishap

Executive councillor Bernard Chan rightly lumped together three seemingly unconnected occurrences: the collapse of the married inspectors’ quarters at the decommissioned Central Police Station compound, the collapse of the “green” roof at City University and the excessive lead levels found in drinking water (“Any inquiry into wall collapse at Central Police Station heritage project must be open and thorough”, June 9). In all these cases, the media and the public want someone to blame, said Mr Chan.

I would venture to suggest that it’s the culture that is to blame, where everybody expects everybody else to be on the lookout for not getting in harm’s way, which requires no rocket science to spot. Nobody thus bothers to have a basic, foolproof understanding about things around him or her.

Those who ought to know about it don’t know enough about it, hence are not keeping a good lookout, nor communicating well enough. That is, everybody is to blame, though to varying degrees.

For example, God knows how many security doors at housing estates have fallen out of their hinges, as if nobody saw the hinges working loose, before the authority decreed that the doors be linked to the wall via a metal chain, so that should a hinge fail, the chain is there to catch the door from crashing down.

During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, TV advertisements and workshops exhorted the public to ensure their drainpipes had a “U-shaped air lock” to prevent germs coming up the drainpipes. Little did the authorities doing the exhortation notice that in virtually all buildings, there wasn’t a U-shape to be seen, all phased out by concentric air-lock cans. There was for a short while a general panic among residents demanding the U-shaped fitting to be retrofitted.

How could the thousands of students and professors at CityU have failed to notice the mismatch between the frail tubular roof support framework and the “green” stuff piled on? One structural engineer pointed out in hindsight that each of the horizontal members of the framework would have to have been welded together from several six-metre standard lengths.

The quantity of lead in water does not have to be zero. But the excessive heating of the copper pipes and sockets, quite apparent in the TV footages, would have caused the ring of solder pre-packed in the inside wall of the socket to expand excessively to creep far into the inside wall of the socket, exposing hundreds of times the area of the solder in contact with the water.

Those who ought to know didn’t know. Those who know weren’t there to supervise.

The Central Police Station wall? It imploded. Someone should have seen it coming, but didn’t.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Ban ivory now rather than later

I agree with lawmakers that it is unreasonable that we have to wait five years for a full ban on ivory (“Five years to ban Hong Kong ivory trade is too long, lawmakers argue”, June 28.

This is a serious issue. The number of elephants is declining rapidly, and the government has simply not done enough. While I commend the government for agreeing on a ban, I think it should be put in place sooner. A wait of five years could mean the difference between life and death for these wonderful mammals

To me, a good idea would be to let shopkeepers sell their ivory in a year, and in the meantime, no ivory should be imported.

Nikaash Daswaney, Mid-Levels

Needless deaths must spur change

Two baby dolphins at Ocean Park died last year, and another newborn joined them late last month (“Outrage as newborn dolphin dies at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park”, June 25). Members of the public should demand answers from the park and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department about these untimely fatalities.

So many emails have been exchanged in the course of our campaign for the rights of these animals to live free, yet key members of the Ocean Park are unable to make any headway on the matter. With these needless deaths, it has become wholly apparent that the park lacks the capacity to be genuinely saddened by the loss.

Meanwhile, our children do not know how superior dolphin senses are. They are being fooled into believing that dolphins thrive in concrete tanks – misinformation many of us have to work hard to correct.

By condoning such treatment, we are letting down the generations after and even the tourism industry. Reputable tourism does not encourage these types of exhibits, which are now considered unjust, on a par with riding elephants and taking selfies with tigers.

No dolphin should have to lie on its stomach on the ground to amuse us, and no dolphin deserves to be confined, let alone bred into a lifetime of confinement.

Again, I request that the Ocean Park ceases its artificial breeding programme for cetaceans, phase out this exhibit, and hold cetaceans only for genuine rescue, rehabilitation and release where possible.

Zoe Ng, Sai Kung

Bilingual park signs are still the norm

I refer to the letter, “Will all park signs switch to Chinese only?” (June 26), and would like to clarify that neither the Tsing Yi nature trail nor Tsing Yi park is part of our country parks.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is responsible for the management of country parks and we fully appreciate the need to cater for country park users with different requirements. It is the general practice of the department to provide bilingual signage, in both English and Chinese, along hiking trails and at recreational sites in country parks.

Moreover, we monitor the state of our signboards, and any outdated, substandard or worn-out signboards will be replaced as appropriate.

Franco Ng, for director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation

Mannequin sizes should be more realistic

There is something unusual about the mannequins at the Laurel shop in Central. Not only do they look anorexic but they are also too tall for a city where the average height for women is said to be about 160cm, according to one study.

Should this kind of unrealistic body image advertising even be allowed? In Britain a few years ago, stores like Debenhams began a trend of displaying mannequins of various sizes to reflect the various body shapes and sizes in society.

Shouldn’t Hong Kong also change to be more realistic? And shouldn’t such issues be highlighted by your publication? Hopefully there is a watchdog looking into this.

Ayesha Sitara, Mid-Levels

Airport charge will help pay for runway

I refer to the letter by Heidi Leung, regarding the Hong Kong International Airport’s three-runway system (“Taxpayers will foot the bill for third runway”, June 25).

Under the remit allowed by the Airport Authority Ordinance, the Airport Authority has developed a financial plan for the three-runway system under a “joint contribution and user-pay” principle, which consists of borrowings, retaining the Hong Kong International Airport’s operational surplus and charging departing passengers an airport construction fee (Hong Kong citizens and visitors alike).

The rates of the fee are determined by flying distance, ticket class and whether flight types are origin-destination or transit/transfer.

The fee for short-haul departing passengers in economy class has been set at HK$90, while the charge for short-haul passengers in first or business class will be HK$160. For long-haul passengers, the charges for flying in economy class and first or business class will be HK$160 and HK$180 respectively. To maintain the airport’s competitive edge, the fee for short-haul transit/transfer passengers in economy class will be set at HK$70.

Some 90 per cent of passengers departing from the Hong Kong airport are expected to pay HK$90 or less. Even with introduction of the fee, charges at the airport will remain low and will be more competitive than other hub airports in the region.

The fee will be collected on air tickets issued on or after August 1 this year.

In a three-runway system, all three runways will perform take-off and landing functions. For the sake of operation efficiency, as suggested by an independent consultancy study, the new north runway will be mainly used for landing, the centre runway for take-offs while the south runway will be used for both landings and take-offs.

William Lo, executive director of finance, Hong Kong Airport Authority