Letters to the Editor, December 16, 2017
Taxi drivers must display ID behind seat
At present, taxi drivers in Hong Kong are required to display their identity card at the front of the cabin on the passenger’s side. As a single passenger generally sits at the back, this poses a problem should they wish to make a note of, or take a photo of, the taxi driver’s identity card.
In the heat of a dispute, the information required to make a complaint against the driver becomes difficult to obtain, such as the driver’s name, registration number and details of the vehicle number plate.
If a taxi driver is aggressive, drives poorly or in general provides a substandard service, the passenger must reach over the front seat with a phone camera, if they want to take a photo or make a note of the identity plate.
That would be very obvious to, and only serve to further enrage, the offending driver.
Often, in the evening or at night, it is near impossible to clearly read the details on the identity card from the back seat. Once, a taxi driver removed his identity plate and refused to let me view it. And sometimes, the plate is not displayed at all.
The Transport Department should mandate that the identity plate of the driver should be displayed both in the front and the back of the taxi, that is, there should be an identity card behind the driver’s headrest. This is common practice in cities like New York and London.
Not only will this act as a deterrent to prevent misbehaviour, but also increase the likelihood that a mistreated passenger will report the offence.
Roshan Chainani, Kennedy Town
Policy rethink needed to turn into smart city
I refer to your report on the global smart city index (“Why is Singapore much smarter than Hong Kong?” November 8)
As the article said, Hong Kong ranked 68th on the index, far below Singapore, which placed second. I have a few ideas about why this is so.
Firstly, I think Hong Kong started too late in the implementation of smart city fundamentals. While other cities have long been implementing smart city programmes and details, Hong Kong is just at the planning stage. Hong Kong must speed up the process.
Secondly, many Hongkongers are not familiar with the concept of a smart city. Google Hong Kong’s “Think 2020: Smarter Digital City” study found 81 per cent of people in Hong Kong believed the city was digitally intelligent, but only 42 per cent of them used digital banking or mobile collaboration apps. This shows that some Hongkongers don’t have a technological mindset.
Thirdly, Hong Kong should rethink its investment strategy. The government is spending so much on theme parks and infrastructure. It should invest more in the development of a smart city and nurture technological innovation.
Carrie Hung, Tuen Mun
Self-service libraries have pros and cons
I am writing in response to your article about Hong Kong’s first self-service library station being launched in Sai Wan Ho, with two more to follow early next year (“Self-service library stations provide books on demand”, December 5).
This makes it more convenient for people in the neighbourhood to borrow books, as they don’t have to go all the way to the library. So more such vending-machine-style self-service library stations will bring more convenience.
These also can attract more people to read, as books on a variety of topics are so easily available. As self-service libraries are a new thing, they may feel interested in trying them out and borrow books.
But I feel the drawback is the number of books they stock. Each such library offers only 300 books, and this is not enough.
Also, such machines should be placed in neighbourhoods that are far away from any library, or their purpose would be lost. And if too many of such large vending machines are set up in crowded areas of the city, they will end up blocking the way for pedestrians.
Yeung Yan-ki, Tseung Kwan O
History hurry raises fears of selective study
As announced in the 2017 policy address, all local junior secondary schools will be required to teach Chinese history as an independent compulsory subject at the junior levels, from the next academic year.
Some may say this change is necessary, in order to strengthen Chinese identity and instil patriotism among young Hongkongers. However, I think the subject should not be made mandatory, or it is hard not to have citizens feel suspicious about the intention behind such a directive, and also be afraid that it has political undertones.
Many educators have noted the logistical difficulties in implementing the scheme with less than a year to go until the next school year begins.
Educating the young generation is an important issue, as the knowledge and impressions gained in childhood will have a profound implication on their entire lives.
But critics are questioning why the government appeared to be in such a hurry to implement the policy.
They are also worried that the courses may only highlight the positive aspects of China’s history, and gloss over or omit the rest. That gives rise to brainwashing fears, and students not being able to use independent and critical thinking.
We should think about this issue comprehensively. Give the youngsters enough opportunity to “appreciate and inherit the splendid Chinese culture”.
Cathy Yuen Tsz-wai, Hang Hau
Hong Kong must cherish marine species
I refer to your article on calls to protect our marine life (“Small city, big sea: Hong Kong marine life diversity prompts renewed scientific interest and calls for protection”, November 4).
The article said Hong Kong has nearly 6,000 marine species, which means its waters provide a good living environment. This enables researchers to investigate more species.
However, pollution, climate change, and habitat loss from land reclamation are putting precious species at risk. Such factors not only affect the ecosystem, but also pose a threat to sea creatures, and can even cause the extinction of endangered species.
The people of Hong Kong should be more concerned about protecting our marine ecosystem and act accordingly.
The government also has a vital role. The first measure it should take is to enlarge the size of the protected marine area, as only 2 per cent of Hong Kong’s marine area is protected.
It should also publicise the importance of protecting marine life, through exhibitions and public talks, as well TV commercials. Catchy slogans and catchphrases play an important role in spreading the word.
Eunis Au, Tseung Kwan O
Country parks are no option for housing
Housing presents a very serious problem in Hong Kong, with land supply and housing distribution the talk of the town.
Some say that building flats in country parks can easily alleviate the housing crunch. However, I do not agree.
Building housing in country parks would harm the environment. These parks are precious recreational spots for Hong Kong people. If those are built upon, there will be less natural space for people to take a break from their busy working lives.
Loss of country parks would also worsen air pollution. Given the reality of global warming, the government should help to ease the problem of bad air.
Why not build on brownfield sites instead? Those are lying empty and abandoned anyway.
Jacky Tsoi, Lohas Park