Letters to the Editor, December 17, 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 9:03am

High tax rise will help illicit cigarette trade

The Council on Smoking and Health has called on the government to raise the tobacco tax by 100 per cent and ban cigarettes in a decade.

The aim of such a large tax increase is to substantially cut the number of people who continue to smoke in Hong Kong.

However, I do not think this proposal will force citizens to quit in the large numbers predicted by the group. Many will turn to vendors of illicit cigarettes, which are smuggled into the city. Obviously, as they are not charged a tax they are a lot cheaper.

What is needed is a much tighter crackdown on this illegal tobacco, with police and customs targeting the criminals who are involved in this underground and lucrative trade. If this is not done, then a steep tax rise will actually be a boost for the illicit cigarettes trade.

I hope the advocacy organisation, Hong Kong United Against Illicit Trade, police and customs officers can work ­together to curb tobacco ­smuggling.

Avia Lee Pui-yee, Kwai Chung

Use factories, not country parks, for flats

I agree with correspondents and commentators who have spoken about the importance of protecting our biodiversity.

The government has mapped out a number of measures to achieve this aim, but the issue of country parks remains controversial. The last chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, talked about the possibility of building public housing on the fringes of some of these parks.

Such a policy, if eventually adopted, would not be consistent with a strategy of sustainable development, and officials should be exploring other options to ensure an increase in the supply of affordable housing.

For example, there are a lot of empty industrial buildings and former schools, which could be renovated and converted into decent homes. This would make use of existing buildings and not harm the environment.

When estates are constructed in rural areas, ecosystems and wildlife habitats are permanently destroyed. It is far better to revitalise old schools and ­factories.

Fok Pui-yi, Tseung Kwan O

Illegal parking is also linked to littering

The recent focus on plastic ­debris desecrating our oceans is oddly enough linked to Hong Kong’s inability to tackle illegal parking.

Drivers who sit in their parked vehicles for hours often eat from polystyrene boxes wrapped in plastic bags. When the meal is finished, they ­bizarrely tie the bag up neatly then toss it out the window into the street.

Our city’s charmless taxi drivers feel this is their right and any early morning walk around Hong Kong streets will see the kerbside littered with such ­debris, most of which ends up in our harbour.

Our police are lethargic in their tackling of illegal parking, but perhaps a desire to see our own beaches free from litter may prompt them to be a little more assertive with illegal parking and illegal littering.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Sexual abuse victims raise awareness

One of the most publicised claims of sexual assault locally has come from top hurdler Vera Lui Lai-yiu (“Coach abused me when I was 13, top athlete claims”, December 1).

She had been reluctant to go public and share her experience, but decided to do so to raise levels of awareness about this problem.

I admire her courage to join the #MeToo movement and her determination to end the taboo surrounding this subject in our society.

Hopefully this will encourage more victims to speak up and as a result society can reflect on why victims of sexual abuse are so reluctant to talk about what happened and instead ­suffer in silence.

Being able to share their dreadful experience is really important as they have to deal with serious psychological scars.

Bottling up their emotions is not helpful. Being able to talk freely about what they have gone through, does, as I said, raise awareness.

It will be painful to talk about these experiences, and obviously has consequences for the perpetrator, but it is important to go public. And as Lui said, these innocent victims must keep reminding themselves that they are not to blame for what ­happened.

Katrina Lo, Po Lam

Speak out even if allegation is tough to prove

Hong Kong hurdling champion Vera Lui came forward on Facebook to make a #MeToo post and claim a coach sexually assaulted her 10 years ago.

While citizens are free to express themselves in Hong Kong, many victims of sexual abuse are reluctant to follow in Lui’s footsteps and talk about their ­experiences.

The continued silence of these victims means that those who committed these crimes are not prosecuted and then punished.

Of course, people must be careful what they say online. For example, an exaggerated claim can destroy an individual’s reputation and allegations can be made that can be difficult or even impossible to prove, especially if the incident occurred years ago. But if someone has been a victim of sexual abuse they should speak out.

It is important that people who have committed these acts are brought to justice.

Andy Yeung, Tiu Keng Leng

Parents can pass on healthy cooking tips

I refer to the report (“How to get Hong Kong children eating healthily and off junk food – six expert tips on developing good habits before their teens ”, ­December 2).

While academic results in school do matter to teenagers, they also need to pay more attention to their health.

In past generations in Hong Kong, children were far more self-sufficient. The parents might be out working and children might sometimes have to make their tea when the got home in the evening. So many of them at least knew how to cook a basic meal. But now too often parents are overprotective.

They’re probably afraid their kids will cut themselves in the kitchen if they try to cook. However, if they are properly supervised they can learn to cook nutritious meals and this can lead to them having healthier lifestyles.

It will be good if from an early age children can learn about the importance of having a ­balanced diet.

Jenny Cheung Hoi-yan, Kwai Chung