Letters to the Editor, March 31, 2017
Impound cars to strike at illegal parking
Yonden Lhatoo’s column calling for higher parking fines (“Let’s face it: Hong Kong can’t fix its illegal parking problem”, March 24) was a knee-jerk reaction to a significant problem and missed a number of important points.
The failure to deflate the self-important owners of the cars that block our streets has practical, psychological and political consequences.
At the practical level, we fail to distinguish between necessary parking, that is, deliveries of goods, and self-indulgence – having your chauffeur wait for you, which is not a social necessity entitling you to steal use of the highway.
Next, psychologically we validate blatant breaches of the law, especially in clearly defined areas that state “Vehicles may be ticketed without warning”, and we give the (correct) impression that the police have been told to go easy on chauffeurs: this deepens the “them and us” divide.
Third, politically, we demonstrate that spitting on the rights of your fellow citizens to free passage on the highways is fine, provided you have a driver. And people ask why society is divided?
Mutual respect needs to be restored, but not by uniform levels of financial punishment, which the rich can anyway better afford. The delivery driver is a necessity. The bosses’ convenience is an offensive luxury when it blocks the highway.
To impound a vehicle which is damaging the public interest would be infinitely more effective and appropriate.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Bus drivers left in a bind by occupied stops
In February, bus drivers protested over colleagues receiving summonses from police over letting passengers off before a designated stop in Central.
The drivers had done this because cars, including taxis, are often illegally parked at this stop.
I can understand why police took this action, because parking regulations must be enforced. They are there to protect road users, including bus passengers.
However, passengers should not be impatient in trying to get off a bus and should understand the problems the drivers face when cars are parked illegally at designated stops.
I hope all stakeholders can cooperate and any problems can be resolved.
Tracy Lau Kit-yung, Yau Yat Chuen
Uphill struggle getting meal with less salt
It can be difficult to find a dish in some restaurants that is low in sodium, fat or sugar (“Popular Hong Kong dishes still high in sodium content, consumer watchdog says”, March 15). The responsibility for this rests with the eateries, not the customers.
Take a dim sum restaurant, for example, it is impossible for customers to ask for less salty content as the dim sum has often already been prepared.
I once asked for my order of wonton noodles to have less salt, but the waiter said the soup had already been cooked.
I am sure other Hong Kong diners want to eat healthier meals, but restaurants do not appear to be willing to be flexible when it comes to their food preparation procedures.
This leaves us with no choice but to eat meals with very high sodium content.
Some restaurant owners say they have no choice, because people might feel a dish is not as tasty if it has less salt and they will lose customers.
I can see their point as I have read food bloggers complain about a meal not tasting as good because of reduced salt content.
The government should encourage restaurants to reduce sodium content gradually, instead of setting a maximum level and demanding that the eateries follow. Relevant organisations should also promote healthy eating.
Lee Wing-ting, Lai Chi Kok
Waste charge is only part of the solution
Under the government’s new waste charge proposal, households will pay an average of 11 cents per litre of refuse. Businesses will pay a landfill “gate fee” of between HK$365 and HK$395.
However, I think introducing these new charges is not enough. Some people, to avoid paying the levy, will simply discard waste in rubbish bins – causing more hygiene problems on our streets.
In addition to the new charging scheme, the government should encourage citizens to “recycle, reuse and reduce”. If more of us get into the habit of separating waste at source so we can take out what can be recycled, less rubbish will end up in our landfills.
If people are not taught about the importance of recycling, they will continue to discard material that could be used again and we will keep seeing huge volumes of rubbish in our landfills.
Educating Hongkongers to be environmentally friendly is extremely important.
Not until the government has successfully increased overall levels of awareness about the need to cut back on rubbish at source will we be able to deal effectively with the problem of municipal solid waste.
Ivan Tsoi, Po Lam
Make diners pay if they leave food
Given the huge volumes of food waste generated every day in Hong Kong, it is not surprising that our landfills are nearing capacity. Individuals and society as a whole must work together to tackle this problem.
While eating at a restaurant, we can make a difference by simply ordering only what we know we can finish. We do not treasure food and often order far too much. If the behaviour of adults changes, then hopefully the next generation will adopt good, less wasteful habits.
Restaurants could implement a user-pays principle, so that diners are charged for what they leave unfinished on their plate. For instance, they could charge HK$10 for every 100 grams of waste. People could be encouraged to take home leftover food and eat it later. These measures will act as an incentive for customers not to be wasteful.
All households and businesses, especially from the catering sector, must work together so that Hong Kong, in common with many cities and countries in the West, deals effectively with its food waste problem.
Heidi Keung, Kowloon Tong
Protective gear essential for all cyclists in city
It was good to see that the front page of City Weekend on March 25 was devoted to Rachel Blundy’s articles promoting safety for cyclists in Hong Kong.
Various cycling organisations were mentioned, as were their campaigns to urge the government to make Hong Kong a more bicycle-friendly city.
However, a sidebar titled “How to stay safe and smart on the road” included a photo of a cyclist without a helmet or cycling gloves, and his bike appeared to have no brakes or a bell.
The wearing of protective gear when riding a bicycle is not mandatory, but highly advisable. In the event of an accident, a helmet can be a lifesaver, and gloves can prevent painful hand injuries. Effective brakes and a bell are not only essential on a bicycle, but are also legal requirements.
Michael Waugh, Cheung Chau