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  • Nov 29, 2014
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Letters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am

Surplus food could feed hungry poor

I am currently visiting Hong Kong.

As the founder of Neighbour Day, a community support event in Australia, I am surprised that in such a caring city so much edible fresh food is being wastefully discarded when, with a little co-ordination, it could be transformed into nourishing meals for the homeless and poor ('Supermarkets dumping 29 tonnes of food a day', May 28).

In Australian cities, food rescue services have been set up to collect both fresh ingredients from supermarkets, wholesalers and hotels as well as prepared meals from catering companies, hotels and cafes that are surplus to requirements for that day.

Through networks of commercial kitchens, the fresh food is turned into nutritious, high-quality meals that are either immediately distributed by charities working with the homeless and poor, or frozen for later use.

Previously, as in Hong Kong, all of this food was dumped, but with changes to food handling and safety laws, these initiatives now ensure that people who might otherwise have gone hungry have something to eat.

The cost of dumping edible food is excessive.

Yet, by setting up such a scheme in Hong Kong, the cost of feeding a hungry person would be priceless.

Andrew Heslop, chief executive, Neighbour Day, Sydney, Australia

Supermarket chains can help needy

I refer to the report ('Supermarkets dumping 29 tonnes of food a day', May 28).

Food supply is often a problem in underdeveloped countries in Africa and Latin America, and people there suffer from malnourishment.

But this should not be a problem in Hong Kong, and supermarkets should be thinking carefully about how they dispose of unwanted food.

Supermarkets should not pour water or bleach onto discarded packaged food to ward off scavengers. This is immoral and environmentally unfriendly.

Given that, according to one estimate, 1.26 million Hong Kong people live below the poverty line, it is intolerable that stores should waste food. They should donate all the unsold food to needy people.

Supermarket chains should not be simply money-oriented, and management must not think only of maximising profits.

Store owners must have a sense of humanity and realise that they have a responsibility to help the community.

James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok

Store staff must check expiry dates

It is clearly important for people to check the expiry date on all food items they purchase.

However, I think it is the primary responsibility of staff in these stores to check expiry dates on food and remove items that are past their sell-by date. This is an issue that should be treated seriously by employers.

Workers who fail to remove this produce and leave it on sale on store shelves should face a warning. This problem can easily be solved if staff know they could face disciplinary proceedings.

Although in some cases, expired food may be OK to eat, this is something that stores must deal with.

Theresa Cheng Man-fei, Tsuen Wan

Monorail at Kai Tak won't make a profit

I think the government's plan for a monorail at Kai Tak is impractical.

It will be an expensive construction project and seems pointless, as the administration will not get its money back with a projected daily passenger usage of only 200,000.

It will not make a profit and therefore is unrealistic.

I am also not convinced that a large number of tourists will be drawn to East Kowloon. There will be some visitors who will be interested in developments there, but not enough to justify the expenditure involved in building this monorail.

It would be far better to opt for a combined transport system of trams and electric buses.

Such a system would be less expensive than the monorail and would also be an environmentally friendly option.

It would be short-sighted to go for the monorail.

Vincent Hui, Sha Tin

Villagers still cling to 'right' long gone

I refer to the report ('Demolition crew back at park', May 23), regarding the removal of illegal structures at Tai Tong Lychee Valley.

I'm all ears on just what is the 'unique historical background' the Heung Yee Kuk talks about that gave rise to the widespread occurrence of land disputes in the New Territories.

Let me guess. Villagers to this day still believe they have the same right as their ancestors had in imperial times to open up adjacent land that was not privately held.

They ask why unused land should be allowed to go to waste.

Although the emperor ultimately owned all land in China, he allowed his subjects to open up unused land and, if it proved profitable, the occupier could apply for the land to be transferred into private ownership upon registration and payment of annual taxes.

You can imagine the excuses given by the descendants. They would say that they were providing a public service, generating jobs for villagers, generating tax revenue and brightening up the place.

The fact is this immense leeway for individual initiative allowed in imperial times is over and has been since 1898 in the New Territories, when the British took out the 99-year lease.

The kuk has never got around to accepting that this particular right has gone permanently.

Perhaps the kuk might make inquiries to see if this right to open up unused state land still exists on the mainland.

The last time I checked, the communist takeover in 1949 resulted in the nationalisation of all land in China.

Danny Chung, Tai Po

Health care in HK has its good side, too

I must say I was very surprised to read the letter from Helen Heron ('Very long wait to see consultant', May 29).

As a counterbalance, I would like to briefly mention my wife's experiences.

In 2009, she suffered a stroke. After really wonderful treatment at both Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Kowloon Hospital, she was discharged and given a range of medicines with follow-up appointments for blood testing every month and one with a consultant four months later.

Now almost three years later, her blood is tested every two months and she gets a consultation with several medicines supplied at government rates.

Prior to her stroke, she was receiving treatment for glaucoma from a private doctor.

While in Kowloon Hospital, she was due for a check-up and medicine renewal.

She was referred to the Hong Kong Eye Hospital and since then has been receiving thorough and regular check-ups and been prescribed medicine at that hospital.

Finally I would like to mention that while my wife was undergoing rehabilitation at Kowloon Hospital, the staff there instructed our helper on how to assist my wife in daily exercises.

As a result, I know that my wife, aged 76, has continued to show extraordinary progress both physically and mentally.

It just goes to show the good side to the medical facilities in Hong Kong.

John Wilson, Yau Ma Tei

How is Shek Kwu Chau fairest pick?

I refer to the report in Health Post ('Burning issue', May 29).

Elvis Au, assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department, says that the Shek Kwu Chau site was chosen for the proposed incinerator after a 'very objective, vigorous, systematic site search process' and 'in an attempt to more fairly distribute unwanted facilities across Hong Kong'.

How come a 'more fair' distribution of 'unwanted facilities' was never a criterion of either of the department's consultations?

It was first mentioned after a meeting with the Heung Yee Kuk concerning the site beyond Tuen Mun.

Following this line of thought would be like proposing a landfill for Hong Kong Island.

This would be ridiculous, just like the department's justification of Shek Kwu Chau.

What Hong Kong first needs is more recycling at source.

Once that's well in place, then let's review all other means of waste disposal.

Patrick Wilson, Pok Fu Lam

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