Letters to the Editor, May 23, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2017, 4:50pm

Cable fault at MTR likely due to metal fatigue

I refer to your report on the MTR rush-hour service disruption (“Thousands left stranded in MTR chaos”, May 19).

With all due respect, neither the MTR technical staff nor ­lawmaker and railways expert ­Michael Tien Puk-sun seem to have understood the problem of metal ­fatigue, which was the most likely cause behind the snapping of the overhead cable that led to the stoppage, and not for the first time either.

The MTR technical staff must have thought the cables had unlimited fatigue life and so could be left in service indefinitely. They contended that the failed cable passed a close-up visual inspection only recently.

In fact, every metal part has a critical value of load applied, ­below which it has an unlimited fatigue life but above which ­fatigue failure occurs after a number of cycles of the load being applied. By the time an impending failure becomes ­visible to the naked eye, the ­failure may occur within ­minutes, long before the next ­inspection is due.

The same applies to rigid overhead conductors, which Mr Tien suggested be used instead.

We should use either heavy-gauge cables or rigid ­conductors that have an unlimited fatigue life, or lighter-gauge ones of a known fatigue life – to be ­replaced before the limit of that life is reached.

Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen

China’s Arctic plan may harm environment

I refer to your article on China extending development plans to the North Pole (“Will the Arctic be the next stop on China’s new Silk Road?”, May 21). The latest comments from professors at Tsinghua University suggest that China plans to extend its new Silk Road to the Arctic.

The aim is to develop more energy sources, as the Arctic holds an estimated 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 per cent of its ­undiscovered oil. Such resources would surely support the ­development of China.

But I think China’s polar aims can have both positive and ­negative effects. On the plus side, it will help tackle the high levels of air pollution in China.

The main energy resource used by China is coal, which is a dirty fuel source and pollutes the air. Natural gases from the Arctic would offer a much cleaner source of power.

But there is also the risk of the pristine natural Arctic environment being destroyed by ­human ­activity and resource­ ­exploitation. Environmental damage would pose a risk to unique Arctic species such as polar bears or beluga whales.

So I think environmental considerations must take precedence in any plans by China to expand its Silk Road to the poles.

Yenus Ip, Yau Yat Chuen

Shark fin trade is both cruel and wasteful

Shark’s fin soup is commonly served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets.

The practice continues even though marine conservation groups have long been telling people how inhumane and environmentally damaging the consumption of shark fin is.

Shark populations all over the world are facing the threat of extinction, mainly due to overfishing driven by high ­demand for their fin, especially in Asia.

When sharks are caught to be finned, fishermen will only cut off their fins and throw their bodies back into the ocean. Without their fins, the sharks are unable to swim and are left to be eaten by other marine animals, which is both cruel and wasteful.

Second, catching sharks is not environmentally friendly. Sharks are the top predators in the marine ecosystem. If they are overhunted, the number of weaker predators will be boosted, thus throwing the marine ecosystem off balance.

It is hoped that shark’s fin soup stays off our menus.

Kenny Tong, Tseung Kwan O

Step up police patrols to beat drug rackets

I refer to the report on the recent seizure of cannabis (“Customs smash drugs ring with 131kg cannabis haul”, May 10).

It was the fourth multimillion-dollar seizure of cannabis this year. In view of the rising number of cannabis users in the city and increased drug trafficking, I suggest that police patrols be strengthened.

We also need to educate youngsters in the city about the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking, and provide addicts with better rehabilitation options.

Chloe Pak Ching-nam, Kwai Chung

Tighten policy on allocating subsidised flats

I refer to the article on renting out subsidised flats (“Let owners of subsidised Hong Kong flats rent them to the needy”, May 5).

Subsidised flats are meant mainly for the middle- and low-income groups, most of whom have to wait years for public housing. If some people leased such flats out, it is ­believed it would help reduce the queues for public housing and beat soaring rents.

But this could also allow ­better-off families to make money off lower-income households in desperate need of a flat. The original intention in providing subsidised flats would then be lost, as people may buy these flats just to earn money.

In order to secure the welfare of low- and middle-income families, the government should tighten the policy on who can apply for subsidised housing, and not allow resale or leases.

Lois Cheung, Kowloon City

Shoppers need to think twice before buying

Hongkongers’ unhealthy obsession with shopping has been in the news lately. Ours is a society that tends to spend excessively on material goods, thanks to a heavily ­consumerist lifestyle.

But this means Hongkongers own more clothes than needed and are quick to throw away even barely worn items to make room for new ones each season.

These clothes can be of use to the grass-roots population or the poor in developing countries. I suggest that people sell their unwanted clothing online at low prices, or donate to charity organisations like the Salvation Army. But first, think twice ­before buying new things.

Kristy Tai Lok-yin, Po Lam