Residual waste cannot be eliminated
Your correspondents' many commentaries on waste incineration are certainly well intended, but often miss the point and some statements claimed as fact remain unsubstantiated.
Firstly, the residue of the incineration process is not toxic sludge, as stated in one letter, but ashes, which can be used, for example, in building construction.
Second, the moving grate technology, unlike the plasma arc method, is proven and tested for large-scale incineration plants, like the one proposed to be constructed in Hong Kong.
Thirdly, recycling is often presented as the alternative to incineration.
This would be true only if a 100 per cent waste recovery rate was practically achievable.
Fourth, many readers pick on the administration as the main culprit for not having solved the problem long ago.
This is a rather low-hanging fruit to pick, as it conveniently overlooks the fact, that whatever initiatives the government may propose, they have to pass legislation and stakeholder scrutiny before they can be implemented.
The endless debate around the plastic bag levy is a shining example of just how tedious the process can be.
A financial burden is normally the main reason for public resistance against any such regulations, but in this case payment could easily be avoided by bringing your own bag. Still, it took three years to pass the levy into law.
How long will it take, then, to get a meaningful domestic waste charging scheme or waste electronic and electrical equipment regulations passed? To decide on a strategy to deal with its waste is a community effort.
Recovery and recycling are vital components of such a strategy, but there is no known live example, anywhere in the world, where residual waste is completely eliminated from the economic cycle.
It would be a great leap forward, if the people of Hong Kong recycled their waste as enthusiastically as the opponents of waste incineration do with their arguments against the latter.
Wolfgang Ehmann, Admiralty
Gays should have legal protection
I applaud your editorial for taking a stand against workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation ('Workplace laws need to cover gays', May 21).
The Hong Kong government loves to brag about how world class the city is, and its residents take pride that the city is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world.
While Hong Kong has earned some bragging rights for being a safe and modern city, there is nothing to brag about when it comes to protecting its gay citizens.
The fact that someone can be fired or denied service because of his/her sexual orientation is definitely unacceptable. Not only should such a practice be outlawed, violators should also be prosecuted.
Studies have shown that there are many benefits in having an inclusive workplace.
Not only does it benefit all employees, it is also good for business as it helps to attract and retain a strong workforce, as well as leading to an increase in productivity.
Ultimately, it also leads to a more open and inclusive society where individuals will no longer feel the need to hide in the closet. After all, leading a double life is mentally damaging and a health hazard.
I call upon the incoming government to act without delay. On one level, anti-discrimination laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Also, children should be taught to embrace diversity and that any form of bullying should not be tolerated.
Otherwise, the slogan 'Asia's world city' just rings hollow.
Jerome Yau, Happy Valley
Tax system overhaul long overdue
Citizens from the grass-roots level of society often feel that they are neglected by the Hong Kong government.
They are concerned about the effects of inflation. They face increased rents and the cost of food has skyrocketed.
The feel that they face a very heavy financial burden.
The administration does offer some help for some citizens, such as Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. However, that is not getting to the root cause of the problems people face and the government has failed to deal with it.
I feel there is a need for a reform of the SAR's taxation system.
Compared, for example, to the United States, Hong Kong's tax rate is relatively low.
I think our richer citizens should be paying a higher tax rate than they do at present and people on lower incomes should pay less.
In this way, we would be more likely to see a reallocation of wealth and a more even distribution between different sectors of society.
Although wealthier Hongkongers might object, I believe it would bring greater harmony to our society.
This is something that chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying has said he would like to see in the city.
Wong Yiu-chung, Sha Tin
Pristine countryside now a mess
When I visited the Hong Kong Institute of Education, outside Tai Po, in 1996, I was impressed by the campus and the pristine greenery within the backdrop of the Pat Sin Leng range.
Recently, I revisited this area. Looking down from the campus, I saw that the greenery has been cleared. There are vehicles, containers and huts. Dumping of earth and rubble is evident. How can the change from beautiful scenery to this ugly mess have taken place? The relevant government departments should explain, through these columns, why the countryside has been allowed to be degraded.
I would like the owner of this land to be identified and steps taken to repair the damage and ensure that no further destruction of trees, dumping, and illegal land use is permitted. This case is but one of the many eyesores that have appeared in the New Territories in recent years due to the absence of planning and flouting of land-use regulations.
Peter A. Tanner, Tsuen Wan
Officials were not tough enough
I think, before giving 10-year franchises to three bus firms, the government could have imposed tougher conditions.
It should have struck deals by which more discounts were offered to passengers.
I would like to have seen the firms having to offer more fare concessions to help people on low incomes and those who have long-distance commutes, such as from the new towns in the New Territories.
Also, officials could have insisted that the bus companies did more to curb pollution caused by their vehicles.
Demanding cleaner vehicles is important given that I believe our air quality in Hong Kong is getting worse.
Neil Leung Ngo-yin, Sha Tin