Letters to the Editor, August 12, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 4:31pm

Cheats in the minority, but still do harm

China’s rise as a science and innovation leader is not just ­limited by the academic and economic inertia afforded by the habit of resting on one’s ­laurels.

The country’s reputation has been damaged by fraudulent publications.

Even though only a minority of the country’s ­scientists are using dishonest means to achieve academic gains, their actions have tainted the hard work of the honest majority.

The greater harm is the ­erosion of China’s scientific credibility in the global research community.

One is often left wondering whether its rapid ascent in world-class science is reliably underpinned by honesty and integrity.

If fraud perpetuated by the country’s unbridled publication incentive is allowed to continue to breed and reward ethical lapses, there will be an irreparable breach of trust.

Given time to heal, China may yet restore its reputation. Beyond its borders, it has to be recognised that deliberately misleading research could be unwittingly adopted into daily life and even be incorporated as detrimental advances in ­medical treatment, putting all of us at risk.

Joseph Ting, adjunct associate professor, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Keep e-bikes away from busy islands

There have been calls for electric bikes to be made legal in Hong Kong. I would not like to see them on the ­narrow streets of islands like Lamma.

It’s dangerous enough for pedestrians with push bikes ­trying to race about through crowds.

They certainly don’t want to have to dismount or deal with more motorised means of transport in the limited road space available, already used by village vehicles and, as in my case, wheelchairs.

Peter Berry, Lamma

Plan to charge for congestion is flawed

Proposals have been put forward for the government to impose a ­congestion charge for driving in Central.

With more vehicles in the city every year, congestion is getting worse. It is a really unpleasant experience being stuck in one of the city’s many traffic jams. They cause serious air pollution which harms humans and the environment. One suggested congestion charge is electronic road pricing (ERP).

Such a scheme would certainly generate revenue for the government and, with fewer vehicles in ERP zones, pollution levels might drop. Some cities, such as Singapore, have ­adopted ERP and it has been very successful.

However, if ERP was ­imposed in one area of the city, motorists might choose alternative routes on nearby roads ­outside it and create congestion problems there.

It would be better for the government to try and raise the fee for registration and licensing of a vehicle.

Melody Ho, Tseung Kwan O

We can all help to lower levels of air pollution

The smog problem in parts of China, especially Beijing, is ­affecting the health of citizens, with many children growing up with respiratory problems.

Restrictions must be ­imposed to reduce the number of cars in Beijing, for example, only being allowed to take your vehicle into the city on certain days (depend on your registration plate number).

Energy-saving measures must be adopted so people use less electricity, in order to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In Hong Kong and on the mainland, citizens should be ­trying to take energy-saving steps at home, such as switching of fans and lights when they are not needed.

With reduced demand, ­output can be cut at fossil-fuel power plants.

Several attempts are being made worldwide, on personal, industrial and governmental levels, to cut the severe global air pollution levels.

If these efforts are successful then hopefully we will see less of this harmful smog on the mainland. Tackling this smog is a challenge that must be faced now, if future generations are to have any hope of living in cities with clean air.

Arina Ip, Yau Yat Chuen

Reusing bottles eases pressure on our landfills

Plastic microbeads which are used in some beauty and cleaning products are harmful to the environment and to our health.

These beads slip through waste-water treatment systems and end up in waterways, where toxic materials adhere to them. Some countries have already banned them because they release toxic chemicals that are dangerous for marine and ­human life.

We all have a responsibility to protect the environment and should be trying to help reduce the huge number of plastic ­bottles that end up in our ­landfills.

We can sometimes reuse plastic bottles, for example, as vases for flowers or as a general container. And of course, we should recycle plastic wherever possible.

Nicole Tse, Hang Hau

Family hikes can make a difference

I agree with correspondents who have urged parents to try and get their children to exercise more.

A combination of poor diets and lack of exercise has resulted in many young people becoming overweight (and even obese) and developing health problems such as diabetes. Far too ­often they go to fast food restaurants and eat junk food.

Parents have to be aware of these problems and address them.

They should organise activities where the whole family gets involved, such as hiking or jogging.

This gets the youngsters involved in exercise and can help improve relationships within the family. And there are a lot of hiking and jogging trails in Hong Kong, including family trails.

Parents should also aim for a nutritious diet and encourage children to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.

They should try and ensure the whole family sits down to eat healthy meals as often as ­possible. Having young people lead healthy lives can start with the family.

Wong Lok-ching, Kowloon City

Aim for flexible approach to retirement

The retirement age of newly hired civil servants was raised from 60 to 65 last year.

This decision was taken by the government to deal with Hong Kong’s ageing population which will lead to a shrinking workforce.

The intention behind the new policy was sound, but I think it is unreasonable to set a retirement age, and a flexible approach should be adopted. It should be up to individual civil servants to decide when they want to retire rather than having to adhere to a rule. I believe this is a human rights issue.

Some of them will feel well enough to work up to and ­beyond 65, while others may have health issues which will ­require early retirement.

All the government should do is establish a retirement age for reference only, but it should not be compulsory.

Angela Cheng Tsz-ki, Sham Shui Po