Letters to the Editor, July 26, 2017
Storm warning system should be updated
I noticed on the Hong Kong Observatory website that we are celebrating 100 years of typhoon signals. Doesn’t that suggest that it may be time for a major revision? The current system is based on The Beaufort Scale of wind-force, a centuries old system developed for mariners in sailing vessels.
The No 8 signal means that gale-force winds are expected (Beaufort 8, 34-40 knots, 63-74 km/h) and Hong Kong closes down. Imagine if gales caused a shut-down in Europe; the place would be closed for half the year.
In recent years, tropical cyclone path prediction has advanced greatly and satellite imaging and radar allow the Observatory to provide amazingly accurate forecasts. Why is it using its cyclone warning system which hasn’t seen any updating since 1973 – and that change was just about wind direction?
I do understand the real danger posed by a full-blown typhoon and the need for people to get into shelter.
I have been out in the “supreme wind” and it has amazing force. However, to close down a modern city for a gale is a bit of a joke. The No 8 also invalidates most driving insurance, adding to the inconvenience.
The Observatory does a really excellent job and it is a pity to see its great work let down by an outdated tropical cyclone warning system.
Peter Mallen, Pok Fu Lam
Low-skilled workers face uphill struggle
Living conditions for people in the grass roots of society who reside in Hong Kong’s poorest districts have got worse compared with only a few years ago. This is despite the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty.
One major factor is the city’s ageing population, which has implications now and in the future.
With a lower birth rate, we could face serious shortages to the workforce, which could lead to a drop in productivity and economic growth. If this happens, it will be more difficult for people to escape the poverty trap.
Also, many low-skilled workers have suffered from Hong Kong changing to a knowledge-based and hi-tech city, so they have problems finding work. The government needs to offer these people more retraining programmes so they can learn new skills and become competitive in the job market.
If they can earn more and have a stable job, they have a better chance of improving their financial status.
I also back regular increases in the statutory minimum wage.
Vanessa Sze Ching-yiu, Kowloon Tong
More starter and public flats are needed
I agree with those correspondents who have called for urgent action to deal with Hong Kong’s housing crisis.
The government must ensure that there is an increase in the supply of starter homes for people from the lower and middle classes.
These citizens, trying to own their first home, cannot afford the expensive flat prices that prevail now in Hong Kong.
They would have a better chance of becoming home owners if there were more of these starter homes available.
I also think the government has to impose even tighter controls than already exist on those people who want to purchase more than one flat when a new residential block goes up for sale.
This encourages even greater speculation in the property market and so prices go up.
Finally, the administration must increase the number of public flats it is building.
All citizens deserve to enjoy a comfortable and decent living environment.
Kary Chan, Yau Yat Chuen
Out-of-control shopping is so wasteful
Earlier this year, Greenpeace highlighted the unhealthy shopping habits of some Hongkongers, which generated a lot of waste.
Some people spend a large portion of their incomes on excessive shopping. It is clear that some of them are doing this because they lead hectic lives and mistakenly think it will help them deal with stress.
Some of the clothes they buy are never worn and end up in landfills.
More help should be available to individuals who are problem shoppers and may risk getting into debt because of their actions. If fewer people have this problem, then we will not see so many discarded items of clothing going to landfills.
Jennifer Leung Hoi-shan, Shek Kip Mei
Take sensible precautions on bad air days
Individuals concerned about the city’s bad air have to take their own measures to deal with it.
On days when high levels of air pollution are reported in Hong Kong, people who feel they may be at risk should avoid the worst-affected areas. They can also stay indoors. If they must go out, they should wear a mask.
If they do not have to go into work in urban areas, they can spend the day in a rural area, such as a country park where the air is likely to be fresher.
I appreciate that the bad air some days can be due to pollution from the mainland, which is spread by wind direction. So while people cannot prevent that, they can take these sensible precautions to limit their exposure to the worst of the smog.
If, despite those measures, they feel ill, then they should seek medical advice.
Jocelly Tse, Tseung Kwan O