talk back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should the Hei Ling Chau super-jail project be scaled down?

The Hei Ling Chau super-jail project should be scaled down because such a big jail carries the image of a concentration camp. It may make the prisoners feel like they're being exiled. I understand that the present prisons will be full in the near future.

I don't mind if the government builds a new jail on Hei Ling Chau but it should not be a super one. Maybe you will argue that a super-jail can be built with advanced equipment or facilities. Nonetheless, what the prisoners need most is a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Our government used to promote public acceptance of ex-criminals. How come the government now proposes to build a big jail that will make the prisoners feel isolated?

Freda Li, Tseung Kwan O

The super-jail project is likely to be an environmental disaster and should be scaled down and relocated. The proposed site should be protected from this kind of ugly development and preserved for other projects in keeping with its attractive surroundings.

Can you please identify the government officers responsible for this totally unacceptable proposal? I believe that the vast majority of those who value the environment will welcome the opportunity to pass on their views directly. In this way I hope those government officers can be courageous enough to accept that on reflection and after consideration Hei Ling Chau must not be destroyed.

Michael Delaney

One would expect that large prison complexes would experience increased social problems: the de-humanised scale of a 'super-prison' could increase the feeling of alienation and isolation - a 'society within society'. It could lead to a higher level of violence and make rehabilitation more difficult.

However, the Correctional Services Department has surely done its research and should be an expert on the matter. The most important thing is that the prison(s) - large or small - address those concerns, and be built in sensible places: ones that are accessible for visits and emergency services, and that are not areas of natural beauty.

Claire Price, Mid-Levels

Of course most people are against the idea of building a 'super-jail' on Hei Ling Chau. As one reader said: 'I can understand the need for holding prisoners somewhere, but there are so many other places which can be used'.

I may be naive, but now that Hong Kong has returned to the motherland, has it ever occurred to the government that there is a solution to the problem that will (a) save them billions of dollars a year, thereby helping to reduce the budget deficit, (b) obviate the need for new and controversial prisons like the one being considered for Hei Ling Chau and (c) reduce the overall crime rate in Hong Kong?

The solution of course is to build new prisons (or even a 'super-jail') over the border and transfer the prison population to those prisons.

Prisons have been successfully privatised in other countries. It ought to be possible, on the same basis, to sign a contract with the Ministry of Public Security, or whoever is responsible for running prisons in China, whereby they would run these prisons on behalf of the Hong Kong government in exchange for a suitable fee, which would certainly be much less than the present budget of the Correctional Services Department in Hong Kong.

Moving the prisons to China would release many prime sites in Hong Kong for housing development.

The prospect of being jailed in China instead of in Hong Kong would also, I believe, have an 'encouraging' effect on the local criminal population.

Michael Parker, Sheung Shui

On other matters...

I refer to the article 'Pupils use 320,000 lunch boxes a day' (July 12). As I always take part in environmental protection activities, I understand that pollution problems have become more serious in recent years. If we do not pay attention to them, the environment will be destroyed.

Hong Kong is a small city. But there is a large amount of rubbish produced every day. We will have fewer leisure sites when they are used to store rubbish. Therefore, we should reduce the use of these non-renewable materials (disposable lunch boxes), because it is hard for such materials to decompose in the soil.

They will remain in landfill sites a number of years. Although burning the materials in incinerators can lessen the burden on the landfill sites, air pollution will worsen. Poison gases will be emitted during the burning process.

Hence, the best way to cope with the problem is to try to reduce the use of non-renewable materials. However, in today's society, consciousness about environmental protection is not deeply rooted in people's minds.

A little girl was interviewed about how she felt about the large amount of lunch boxes and what concerned her was the taste rather than the lunch boxes. This showed that children are not aware of the pollution problems.

Besides, some schools also say that environmental protection is not their main concern. It is surprising that even well-educated people are not aware of the effects of pollution.

The government should raise awareness through education. For example, it can instruct schools to set up an environmental protection team to provide talks to students. Schools can also organise activities that involve students.

This would enable them to know more about the importance of the environment directly, rather than just reading books or listening to teachers.

If we can take action early, it will make it easier for the problem to be solved.

Chan Kong, Tsuen Wan