Letters to the Editor, October 8, 2017
Tourists will be shocked by filthy beaches
I agree with Janice Chum that cleaner beaches will present an better environmental image of Hong Kong to visitors (“Refuse on our beaches puts off tourists”, October 1).
Given our status as an international city and some of our world-famous attractions, such as our reputation as a food paradise, the city draws a lot of tourists. But they do not all just stay in restaurants and shopping malls. They also visit country parks and shorelines, and must be shocked when they see the filthy state of some beaches.
I back the clean-up campaigns that green groups regularly organise, but it is also important for people spending a day at the beach to act responsibly. They should take their refuse home with them or put it in the bins provided.
Attitudes must change, so that people start acting responsibly. The best way to do this is to raise levels of awareness through education. There should be more government adverts on television and online about the importance of protecting our environment and keeping our beautiful natural areas clean. We all need to learn to try and reduce the volumes of waste we generate.
Louis Fung Lam-lap, Sau Mau Ping
No progress in US without tough gun laws
Following the latest and worst mass shooting in the modern history of the US, you have to ask if Americans will ever learn.
Following the shooting, US President Donald Trump said, “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence ... a very, very sad moment for me.” People were looking for leadership from him, but failed to find it in those words.
When people compare US gun laws with those of other developed countries, they shudder in horror.
How can the world’s most powerful democracy and advocate of human rights be so immune to common sense and so immature with its gun laws?
Gun legislation in mature countries such as my New Zealand are sensible and strong: no hand guns allowed, no automatic weapons, police interviews of the immediate family before granting a licence to purchase, and a police safety course to pass before earning a firearms licence.
The rules even cover firearm storage – a locked approved cabinet. Collectively, these sensible and strong laws contribute to a culture of safety and freedom, without the fear of being shot at a music festival or as you walk down the street.
Trump should lead a serious crusade to “make America safe again”. The US cannot be great again while rampant firearms madness stalks the land.
Professor Gordon S. Maxwell, Hung Hom
A step closer to same-sex marriage
I think the successful appeal by a lesbian expatriate against the Immigration Department has wider implications for Hong Kong (“Lesbian wins case for spouse visa in landmark ruling”, September 26).
Since the early years of the new millennium, more countries have been legalising same-sex marriage. However, there has been strong opposition to changing the law in Hong Kong.
Now, the September 25 ruling by the Court of Appeal means that lesbian expatriates can get dependant visas for their spouses. I think this brings us a step closer legalising same-sex marriage.
Two people who love each other should be allowed to get married. I think the ruling opens a door and it will strengthen the case of lesbian and gay citizens who want the Legislative Council to change the law.
Also, it will weaken the campaign of those opposed to making such marriages legal.
Yanis Choy Man-yan, Yau Yat Chuen
Container flats not right fit for humid city
With such high property prices and rents, it is becoming harder for people to find affordable homes. However, I am not convinced that converting shipping containers into temporary flats is a good idea.
Projected monthly rents of around HK$8,000 to HK$10,000 would still be too much for people who live in Hong Kong’s notorious subdivided flats.
Container flats are popular in some European countries, but the climate there is a lot cooler than in Hong Kong. These metal containers are made of the sort of material that is appropriate for their climate.
The government must look at this proposal in detail before allowing a pilot scheme.
Yvonne Lee Hei-yiu, Kwai Chung
Government must cut hours of bus drivers
Citizens and concern groups like transport unions have been expressing concern about the long shifts worked by bus drivers in Hong Kong.
Some of them do shifts of more than 13 hours, including overtime. The Transport Department has guidelines, but they have not been updated for years and they are voluntary.
People are worried, because if a driver has done a lot of these long shifts on successive days, he will not have had enough rest. If he gets behind the wheel of a bus already tired, this surely increases the risk of an accident.
The government must amend its guidelines and lower its present cap of 14 hours per shift.
Also, bus drivers tend to do a lot of overtime because their wages are so low. Bus firms must increase their pay. The companies suffer from a labour shortage and will not attract more young people unless their benefits package, including a higher wage, is made more attractive.
Lau Wing-chin, Sham Shui Po
Selling used textbooks is a green option
I agree with correspondents who have complained about the number of school textbooks that are thrown away when they could easily be reused by other students.
These second-hand books can still be used by other pupils, unless there have been radical changes introduced by publishers. They also save parents a lot of money as they are cheaper than buying new editions.
Especially in secondary schools, the textbooks for one year can cost a parent thousands of dollars. And it benefits parents who are selling them as well, as they can make a bit of money.
Another winner in this arrangement is the environment, as fewer books will be discarded in our landfills which are nearing capacity.
I would like to see all our local schools holding used book fairs where youngsters and parents can come to buy and sell second-hand textbooks. These fairs could be held during the summer holidays.
Athena Ho, Mei Foo