Online Letters Page, May 9, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 12:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 12:55pm

Bike-sharing may lose its way in Hong Kong

I am writing to share my views on the bike-sharing start-up, “Gobee bike”. Over the past few years, cycling has gained in popularity in Hong Kong. Gobee bike was launched on April 19 and is expected to increase awareness about green modes of transport. However, I feel this business model is not feasible and should not be implemented in Hong Kong.

Of course, cycling is a much more environmentally friendly mode of transport than vehicles powered by fossil fuels, which cause traffic congestion, while harming air quality. Toxic chemicals released by polluting cars may cause long-term health problems among citizens. From this aspect, Gobee bike is worth a try. Gobee provides riders with smart e-bicycles powered by solar panels. It is not only a pollution-free system, but can also act as scientific proof that renewable energy can be easily applied to daily life. The concept of going green can be boosted around the city and hence help develop an environmentally friendly image of Hong Kong.

Why China’s bike-sharing boom is causing headaches

However, the start-up is bound to face some hurdles. Though the rental cost is relatively low, the method of payment is not well safeguarded. Since riders have to pay rent by credit card with the mobile app, it raises internet security concerns. For example, riders are require to fill in personal information when they register their credit cards, and this may inspire hackers to steal their details.

The system also cannot prevent children from using their parents’ cards to ride Gobee bikes. According to the law, a bicycle may not rented out to unaccompanied children under 11 unless it is only for use on designated cycle paths. For riding bikes on a road, they must be accompanied by an adult. So, if an accident happens with an unattended child under 11 who manages to rent a bike on their own, Gobee bike may have to take responsibility and may even face prosecution.

Therefore, although Gobee bike is definitely cheap and convenient, the regulatory system for this business is not well developed. I believe the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Coco Chow, Tseung Kwan O

Lost and not found in Beijing

Your correspondent Joseph Murphy (“Beijing airport train staff recovered lost wallet”, May 2) is one of the few lucky people who have been able to retrieve lost valuables in Beijing. One of the reasons must be that Beijingers are becoming increasingly wealthy, and the authorities have given a big push to education about public honesty and lifting the image of the capital.

I used to travel often to Beijing many years back. Once, while checking out of my upmarket hotel, I lost a painting that I had just purchased from a gallery. The painting was resting right next to my foot, but had disappeared by the time I finished the checkout procedure.

Another time, a theft case was reported by a man from another company. He had been busy chatting in the lobby, failing to notice that his computer bag had been quietly stolen. It would seem that each operation was executed by local hotel staff.

Last, but not least, my ex-factory manager lost his briefcase when leaving a taxi that took him from the airport to a luxury hotel. The briefcase contained banknotes in multiple foreign currencies worth a total of 10,000 (HK$85,000). He was able to locate the taxi driver later, but he denied having seen the briefcase.

There are many petty theft cases as well. When I produced a 100 yuan note for a 70 yuan taxi fare, many times the reaction was the taxi driver deciding to keep the change. Then followed my own reaction: Beijing is hopeless.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Wage hikes don’t go to root of problem

I refer to your report on the minimum wage hike in Hong Kong (Thousands of Hongkongers join Labour Day marches as new minimum wage takes effect”, May 1).

The minimum wage is an important issue for most Hong Kong people because we live in a low-wage city with high living costs. The Federation of Trade Unions always wants a higher minimum wage for workers so that they can enjoy better living standards. However, will things really work out as the FTU wants? I don’t think so. A higher minimum wage will cause the labour cost to increase for companies – and they will no doubt solve this problem by increasing the price of their products. They may even fire staff to bring down costs, and those that remain have to work harder than before for their wages.

Therefore, just raising the minimum wage cannot really alleviate livelihood problems in Hong Kong. The government needs to think of another way to resolve this issue.

Chan Chak-chung, Po Lam

Work-life balance can be a matter of will

Hong Kong is well-known around the world for its economic prosperity. However, there is inevitably a cost to maintaining such prosperity, and that is its long working hours.

According to research in 2016 by Swiss investment bank UBS, Hong Kong has the longest working hours in the world, clocking in for 50-hour weeks. That is nearly 40 per cent more than the global weekly average of about 36.5 hours. A recent survey by networking website InterNations placed Hong Kong’s work-life balance for expatriate women at a lowly 53rd out of 191 places of residence.

It is obvious that the more time you dedicate to work, the less you have for rest. While most Hongkongers place great value on the financial rewards brought by the long working hours, most of them have forgotten the importance of work-life balance.

So is it really impossible for long working hours and a right work-life balance to coexist? In fact, there may be ways to achieve this.

One of the most effective ways to improve work-life balance is to fully enjoy oneself during holidays. The purpose of taking holidays is to truly relax. Therefore, it is extremely injudicious to have extra work or stay connected to your workplace during breaks. This is a time to spend time with family or other loved ones, so as to break free of work pressures and maintain good mental health.

Another key to good work-life balance is to draw up a daily schedule. One should clearly assign which part of the day should be for work and which part should be dedicated to leisure activities or rest, so as to avoid extra work after getting home. Tasks that are not done can wait until the next day. The only thing that is paramount is to have enough rest, which can ensure a good mental condition and better work efficiency the following day.

The financial rewards brought by long working hours should not be the only thing that is highly valued. The right work-life balance is also an indispensable part of one’s working life.

Lum Chi-lok, Hang Hau

Rating device is best for better taxi rides

I am writing in response to Jessica Leong’s letter calling for closed-circuit cameras in taxis (“CCTV in taxis can make drivers behave”, March 6).

Just like Jessica, I don’t take taxis regularly because I find the fares unaffordable. Even though I may be running late for school, I choose not to take a taxi despite the risk of being scolded by teachers. However, on the few occasions I have taken a taxi, I have not experienced rude treatment of the kind she described, and I do believe drivers like this are in a minority.

With the growth of ride-hailing services such as Uber, the meaning of “public transport” has changed, so that it does not just include the vehicle you take every day to work or school, such as bus or the MTR, but also private cars. Besides, such rides are both convenient and comfortable.

Given the increasing competitiveness in the sector, taxi drivers nowadays should be more proactive in getting passengers, to boost their income as well as repair their reputation. This will help change the impression of passengers like Jessica towards taxi drivers.

As for installing CCTV in taxis, I believe there is no need for this, as rogue drivers are in the minority. There is also the question of privacy, for both the passenger and the driver.

There have been suggestions of installing rating devices in taxis; I feel this is the more feasible option. By having such a rating device, the taxi driver can collect opinions from every passenger and improve services accordingly. With a higher quality of service, the popularity of taxis will increase, and drivers will no longer have to worry about the rise of Uber or premium services.

Tom Poon, Tseung Kwan O