Letters to the Editor, October 5, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 5:17pm

Ease pollution threat with air purifiers

I refer to the report (“‘It’s like they’re killing our children’: ­parents call for tougher action on air pollution at Hong Kong schools”, September 30).

Parents are very worried about their children’s health ­because of the air pollution in Hong Kong.

They have called on the government to take appropriate measures, but it has failed to act.

Officials could order air purifiers to be used in schools to ­reduce the effects of pollution. This would be an important measure as most schools are ­located near roads. The purifiers can mitigate the effects of roadside pollution and ensure the students are breathing cleaner air.

The Education Bureau should also establish a rule that any PE lessons planned for ­outdoors must be cancelled if the air quality index is higher than 7. When the index is that high, ­students should not be involved in ­outdoor activities.

This should not be a guideline that schools may follow; it must be regulation that is enforced.

The government has the power to make sure that Hong Kong students enjoy better ­protection against the city’s air pollution, but it is not using that power.

The measures I have suggested could be implemented by the relevant government departments.

They must heed the calls of ­concerned parents to take the appropriate action.

Mabel Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Offer young cabbies better career options

The taxi sector is said to be in ­decline in Hong Kong because of low recruitment levels among young people and this is attributed to the poor salaries paid to cabbies.

I agree that wages are a factor along with lack of status. In this materialistic society, it seems that only people with better-paid jobs, such as doctors, lawyers and businessmen, are respected. Citizens tempted to become taxi drivers tend to be middle-aged or retired, but it is difficult to tempt youngsters. They hold the job in low esteem and argue that the poor pay is a disincentive.

A cabbie’s salary is between HK$15,000 and around HK$20,000 a month, with no promotion prospects.

Graduates straight out of university would expect to earn about HK$17,000 in their first job, so why become a taxi driver when you can earn more sitting in an office?

I believe the government and taxi sector could come together to create professional training programmes for taxi drivers. And subsidies could be offered to make it more financially ­attractive for potential new ­recruits.

Hopefully, with good training and higher pay, cabbies would acquire a reputation for providing a better quality ­service.

Even though salary levels will never be high, if the mindset youngsters have about working in the taxi sector can change, then we could see a rise in recruitment numbers.

This coordination I have ­suggested between the government and employers could also apply to other sectors finding it difficult to get youngsters.

Rachel Ma, Kowloon Tong

We must all do more to save our planet

I hope citizens will support the annual “Nor Air Con Night” organised by Green Sense, which this year is on October 7 (“Lose your cool”, October 3).

I think there is more the government could do to promote eco-friendly lifestyles and ­educating citizens about concepts and practices such as the 4Rs principle – reduce, ­reuse, replace and recycle.

With the environmental needs of our planet having been neglected for the past 20 years, we have seen animal species ­become extinct and every day we lose vast areas of rainforest.

Sea levels have risen globally in the last decade and threaten to cover low-lying island nations.

Thanks to the greenhouse ­effect, white Christmases are ­becoming rare in countries where they were a common occurrence.

Despite all the detrimental effects of climate change, we can still act and find solutions to our environmental problems before it is too late.

Taking part in activities like No Air Con Night is not just about switching off the air conditioner on October 7, but also highlights the need for a complete change by individuals to adopt environmentally-friendly lifestyles.

We should be turning off all electrical appliances when they are not needed and reusing washing water to water plants and flush the toilet. And we should be ­eating less red meat to reduce our carbon footprint.

Hong Kong, as an international city, should lead by example in environmental pro­tection. So I urge citizens to take part in No Air Con Night ­on Friday from 7pm to 7am the next day.

Although it is only a small step, seven million small changes could really make a big difference.

Anfield Tam, Quarry Bay

Alcohol abuse this young is very worrying

I refer to the report about the problem of underage drinking in Hong Kong (“Children ­drinking alcohol as young as 10, study finds”, October 3).

As a youngster, I understand how alcohol can damage your health. Even in primary school, we were given leaflets explaining the effects of alcohol abuse. They were not just handed out in my school, so it surprises me to read in this new survey that ­children as young as 10 are ­starting to drink alcohol. As your report points out, “peer influence was indentified as a key ­factor in drinking among youngsters” and this is very ­unsettling.

Children want to be accepted by friends’ social groups where they feel they can belong. Sometimes they will go to extreme lengths to make that happen.

Whatever reason there may be for children that young to ­decide to start drinking, it is ­disturbing as alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage and hamper children’s development. Obviously this impacts on their future lives.

Parents and schools need to cooperate and monitor children. They should look for changes in behaviour that may indicate there is a problem and take appropriate action.

Winnie Hon Wing-lam, Tsuen Wan

Pointless high fines with few parking spaces

I take a dim view of the government’s proposal to increase fines for illegal parking.

The reason is I have doubts about how effective it can be at tackling illegal parking in Hong Kong.

I do not think that raising the levels of fines that are imposed will address the root of the ­problem.

There will be cases where, with no legal parking spaces near their homes, drivers can either park far away from their apartment or illegally park closer to it. Obviously, most drivers choose the latter option.

In some other cases, drivers have to opt for costly fees in a car park, although these car parks are in short supply.

Where demand is high, the monthly charges can be very steep, making paying fines more economical.

These cases I have described clearly show that the root problem is the lack of ­parking spaces available to ­drivers. Until this problem of lack of supply is addressed, raising fines will not curb illegal parking.

If the number of parking spaces is increased to a satisfactory level and the problem of ­illegal parking still continues, then the government can consider including illegal ­parking in the driving-offence points systems.

This could lead to drivers ­losing their licences and act as an effective deterrent.

Lee Tsz -chung, Tseung Kwan O