Letters to the Editor, February 5, 2017
The risks from unexploded bombs are real
I would like to thank the public for its support, patience and understanding on January 23. The inconvenience was entirely necessary.
In 2014, I defused an AN M-65 450kg bomb in Happy Valley. On January 23, I defused an AN M-64 226kg aircraft bomb in Pok Fu Lam; I am often told how rare these jobs are.
Hong Kong’s wartime legacy is much closer than most people think and, contrary to opinion in certain quarters, these items are not safe because they have not exploded in the last 70 odd years.
They are less stable than when they were manufactured with the intention of wreaking havoc, and are not becoming any more stable. The effects of climate and age on the casings, fusing systems and explosive contents lead them to become increasingly less stable.
Undisturbed, it would be extremely rare for unexploded ordnance (UXO) to explode but taken from their resting places, the chances of a detonation increase dramatically.
Even when professionals get everything right, there is always the chance of an accident, thus the need for large-scale evacuations and cordons for public safety. Bomb disposal operations are tasks in which you are faced with the cold fact that you will either have complete success or total failure. Numerous accidents have happened overseas. At times, it is a case where a construction worker simply had no idea; at others, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operator makes an error due to fatigue and stress. Then there are simply cases of bad luck.
We do not rely on luck, we rely on experience, training and the quality of our brother officers; luck is something we seldom discuss.
The fact that there has not been an accident recently does not mean that one will not occur in the future; we do not have to be risk averse, just risk aware. I have heard too many times in Hong Kong of how these items are not dangerous, often from people who should know better.
Unexploded ordnance is dangerous, whether a grenade or an aircraft bomb, and it can kill or maim.
Adam Alexander Roberts, bomb disposal officer, Hong Kong Police EOD Bureau
Crackdown needed to end fake food trade
I was shocked to read about the illegal production of counterfeit flavourings in a mainland town (“Fake spice trade leaves bitter taste”, January 17). Recycled spices and toxic industrial grade salt are used, and the salt can contain cancer-causing agents and heavy metals that damage the liver and kidneys.
The flavourings are being marketed as well-known domestic and international brand names. And of course most people use spices virtually every day when they are cooking, and so they are all at risk.
To make matters worse, these spices are kept in yards at melon seed factories near piles of rubbish and colouring that is banned in the food industry is used for them.
I am glad the police are trying to catch the people responsible for this illegal practice.
It is vitally important for the authorities on the mainland to crack down on the manufacture of fake and tainted food as soon as possible and ensure citizens have the protection they deserve.
Christy Lau, Kowloon Tong
Festival break for museums made no sense
On January 28, the first day of the Year of the Rooster, I had the pleasure of hosting a few relatives from the mainland.
I brought them to Tsim Sha Tsui and planned to spend a few hours in the renowned Hong Kong Museum of History to view the Hong Kong Story permanent exhibition.
Then I planned for us to check out the latest displays in the Science Museum next door. To our disappointment, both museums were closed for the first two days of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s (LCSD) decision to close its 14 museums during the holiday is a curious anomaly, considering the fact that major museums in Beijing, Macau and Taipei are all open to visitors on the first days of the Lunar New Year.
This undermines the competitiveness of Hong Kong as a travel destination, as many tourists from the mainland travelling during the holiday season have an increasing number of options available in Asia and around the world. If they find it difficult to learn from their peers operating museums in other Chinese cities, LCSD officials should perhaps consult their colleagues at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. They managed to keep Hong Kong Wetland Park open to the public throughout the holiday.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board may also provide help and advice on this matter.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong
Install lockers at all changing facilities
It seems there have been some thefts at beaches, so Aberdeen police station has put up a notice at Deep Water Bay suggesting that we “pay attention to our personal belongings”.
I wonder how exactly they think we can do that while swimming?
Surely the answer is that the Leisure and Cultural Services Department should install lockers at all beaches where there are changing facilities provided.
Lockers are customary in its managed sports centres and swimming beaches.
Paul Jackson, Stanley
Education best way to tackle cyberbullies
Teenagers spend a huge amount of time online, especially on chat room apps. This makes them vulnerable to cyberbullying through some social media sites.
Cyberbullies use these sites to send insulting and intimidating messages. These can leave teenagers feeling confused, intimidated and often deeply upset.
They can suffer from low self-esteem and in extreme cases they may even be afraid to go to school, worried that they will be victims of further bullying. This will then affect their academic performance.
The government and schools must recognise that the best way to deal with this problem is through educating students about the proper way to use social media sites.
If they are sent an offensive message on a social media site, they must not reply to it.
If they are victims of cyberbullying, they should seek help from peers or the school as soon as possible.
They should not wait until the problem has got worse and they are suffering from severe stress.
Angel Ho, Tseung Kwan O
We should all aim for green New Year
One green group has estimated that Hongkongers use 320 million red lai see packets every Lunar New Year.
That amounts to a huge number of trees. The production process and then the fact that most lai see are discarded after the festival, cause a lot of damage to the environment.
Most of these packets end up in our landfills, which are already nearing capacity.
Citizens need to be aware of this and make some changes next year.
They can get recycled lai see packets from environmental groups.
This would help to reduce the volumes of waste generated and they can also save money. Also, people can donate their packets to these groups to be handed out the following year.
These may seem like small changes, but if we all adopt them they can make a big difference. We all should aim for a more environmentally friendly Lunar New Year.
Katrina Lo, Po Lam