I am writing in response to the article “Ban on sale of lighters in MTR stations from March 1, following Hong Kong firebomb attack” (SCMP, February 22).
On February 10, a 60-year-old man is believed to have used a lighter to start a blaze on an MTR train. Nineteen people were injured in the incident.
Many people say the MTR’s decision to ban the sale of lighters inside the stations won’t be effective. They say anybody who is planning to start a fire can buy a lighter outside and bring it into the station.
Their argument makes sense but I have a different view. I support the railway operator’s move because it reduces the risk of another arson attack and makes people feel safer. The ban would make it harder for people to access lighters for violent purposes.
What’s more, I think the MTR can strengthen security by telling its staff to keep an eye out for suspicious people.
I hope that the MTR will not introduce the system that’s set up on the mainland, where people have to go through security clearance before entering a station.
Yoyo Ho Hei-yu, King Ling College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Yoyo. The firebomb attack on the MTR was a shocking and horrifying incident. So it is natural that the MTR wants to “do something” to prevent such a thing happening again.
But as you quite rightly mentioned, banning lighters inside stations won’t stop someone who is determined to carry out such an attack. All it does is give people a sense of safety and security.
We need to step back from the fear and horror we feel and think critically about the issue. It isn’t as if we suffer these kinds of attacks every day, or even every month, or even every year. It was a “one off” instance.
As humans we try to make our lives as safe as possible, yet we face all sorts of dangers each day. Admittedly there are far fewer dangers in Hong Kong than there are in places like Syria, for instance. But things can and do go wrong and people get hurt or killed. Buses topple over, cars crash, people eat bad food, and so on. If we were to feel completely safe, we would never leave home, and even then, we run the risk of things catching fire and other “accidents”.
It would be better to find the cause of the problem and treat it, rather than make hasty decisions just to ensure that the people feel better.