Letters to the Editor, January 12, 2018

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 4:52pm

Open more shelters during cold weather

When temperatures plunge as they have done this week in Hong Kong, street sleepers are particularly vulnerable (“Hong Kong’s homeless retreat to temporary shelters as cold weather hits”, January 10).

Some of them have complained that they had to walk a long way to find one of the shelters the government opens ­during cold weather.

It would appear that the relevant department's contingency plans with these shelters are not adequate and officials should make sure that during the next cold snap, it has enough of them within easy walking distance throughout the city.

It should also look into ­providing subsidies so that street sleepers might be able to get a place to live. Efforts should be made to reduce the number of people being forced to sleep rough.

I appreciate the work done by NGOs and individuals who have been willing to help by handing out hot food and ­blankets.

Society as a whole needs to do more to help citizens in need, such as the homeless.

People should donate old clothes and blankets to charities which help the homeless, rather than just throwing them away.

Natalie Leung, Tsing Yi

Clearing illegal structures a safety issue

The controversy surrounding the new Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah has put the spotlight once again on illegal structures on buildings, especially private homes.

The problem of unauthorised building works is a serious one in Hong Kong for two reasons. First, because they are so widespread, in urban areas and the New Territories, and because they are not regulated, some of them could pose a risk to public safety.

With legal additions to your home, you get in reputable builders who check that all safety regulations will be adhered to and make sure that the existing roof or wall can take the extra load.

This is not done with illegal structures. And this means they could be inappropriate for the existing dwelling, ­cause a collapse or might become detached during a typhoon and injure pedestrians.

The difficulty for the government is that these structures are often difficult to identify, with some being concealed from view. However, they do pose a risk to people and officials must crack down on these unauthorised structures in the interests of public safety.

Yolanda Chu, Kwai Chung

Is forced removal the best option?

Your columnist Alex Lo makes good sense in his comments ­regarding life in Hong Kong (“Cheng was naive, but what’s Lam’s excuse?” January 11).

Would he not look into the reason for the numerous illegal structures made to properties? If the presence of illegal alterations is so prevalent, can it then be said that it is normal?

Could it be that the process of obtaining permission to make alterations is so long and so cumbersome that owners would rather risk offending the authorities than complying?

And is the only remedy to the offence to remove such structures? Laws should be simple enough to be enforceable and to be followed.

J.L. Terry, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Open-minded attitude helps youngsters

In the past, some young people could look back with fondness on their time at school and even say they were the best years of their lives. But that is no longer the case for most youngsters in Hong Kong, because of the levels of stress they have to deal with.

Some students have felt such despair they have committed suicide and the high rate has raised alarm bells.

It is inevitable that young people will feel under pressure because of the local education system, with its rote-learning and over-drilling.

It is not a ­system which fosters a love of learning, because everything centres on academic performance.

This competitive environment makes it difficult to enjoy a carefree school life.

Some parents make the problem worse by placing too much emphasis on exams and having unrealistic expectations. They want their sons and daughters to get good exam results even if it is clear they do not have the ability to do well ­academically.

It is important to get the ­message through to youngsters that exams are not all that matters. They need to realise that academic performance should not always be seen as the priority. If pupils and parents can take a more realistic and open-minded approach, youngsters are more likely to find a career path that suits them.

Candy Kong Lok-son, Tseung Kwan O

Police chief’s sympathy was misplaced

I was dismayed to read the report where Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said he was “deeply saddened” by the sentence passed down on a former police officer who assaulted a member of the public (“Police chief tries to lift morale in angry ranks”, January 5).

He should really be saddened that an officer broke the law and put a stain on the ­reputation of the force.

This is the second case where sympathy has been shown for police officers who assaulted members of the public. The primary duty of the police is to protect the public – all the public, not just the ones they like.

Actions like those of these officers should be widely condemned, particularly by their former colleagues for bringing the force into disrepute.

Once known as “Asia’s finest”, the police should be trying to get that reputation back. Sympathising with law-breaking ­officers is not the way to do it.

Peter Mallen, Pok Fu Lam