'Dreamliner' a nightmare for environment
When the tide finally comes in for Hong Kong, it won't be because of people like Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, questioning history teaching methods at local schools.
It will be thanks to tycoons such as Chinese Estates Holdings' chairman Joseph Lau Luen-hung, whose purchase of a Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' will surely go down in history as one of the most environmentally selfish acts committed by an individual.
Indeed, political gaffes and policy muddles can be rectified by courage, empathy and common sense. Although they may take time to repair, they are much easier to address than environmental mistakes. Mr Lau's decision to spend US$153 million on this carbon-dioxide-spewing toy, when he already has three personal jets, is much more difficult to undo ('Tycoon buys US$153m jet', May 23).
Anyone who has watched former US vice-president Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth would understand this.
Ice levels are dropping at a precipitous rate in both the north and south poles as a result of the emission of greenhouse gases, to which the airline industry is a major contributor.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment, an environmental NGO, estimates airlines' contributions at between 4 and 9 per cent of the total, depending on the impact of aviation-induced cirrus clouds.
As a result, water levels are rising. If not arrested, the trend suggests that, within our children's lifetime, Hong Kong's most expensive property - the office towers, shopping malls and apartments which Mr Lau helped build - will find their lobby lounges resembling an aquarium.
These are the issues on which Hong Kong's teachers should be focusing. If the current generation of schoolchildren continues to see tycoons such as Mr Lau as their role models, woe betide this city.
Anthony Lawrance, Discovery Bay
I read with disgust your article on billionaire Joseph Lau Luen-hung's purchase of a Boeing 787 - an aircraft that would normally carry 300 people - for his personal use ('Tycoon buys US$153m jet', May 23). Last year, Mr Lau was also reported to have bought three small jets. Clearly, the news of global warming from carbon dioxide emissions and the pollution poisoning our air have not reached Mr Lau. The excesses of this tycoon are sickening.
Carina Pico Martinez, Discovery Bay
Don't fix what isn't broken
RTHK is an institution in Hong Kong. The education level and social standing of its 600,000-strong audience is probably the highest among all radio and television stations, and newspapers, in the city. Antony Leung Kam-chung, the previous financial secretary, took pride in associating himself with the RTHK series Under the Lion Rock. So did our former chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa.
The administration may feel elated with the support of the top mass circulation newspaper - a tabloid never strong in public image or integrity - or with the pro-Beijing lobby, with leaders such as Ma Lik.
RTHK provides a credible source of news. A free press is irksome at times, but press freedom is invaluable because of this capacity to be irksome.
Would Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan be wise to give up a brand-name product? Would Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen be willing to bear all the consequences for handing out a billion-dollar cheque to set up a new television and radio station by decree?
If the circulation of patriotic newspapers is a pointer, the new station, even with the support of the pro-Beijing lobby, will have little chance of mustering one-tenth of the audience of RTHK.
Sam Chow, Central
No mitigating circumstances
In responding to my letter concerning the brutal image of a dog about to be killed by a pipe-wielding man ('Please tell it like it is', May 17), Susie Fung claims there are mitigating circumstances - that the rabies problem and a lack of vets on the mainland justifies the act ('More than meets the eye', May 21).
But it cannot. It might highlight the fact that vets may indeed be in short supply in China, and if Beijing aspires to join the ranks of developed nations it will have to redress this situation quickly. But clubbing an animal to death isn't a humane way of killing. A clean blow to the head is probably a rarity. More likely, a number of blows would be delivered. Considering the many thousands of dogs put down this way on the mainland, how many had rabies?
Mark Regan, Lamma Island
Transparency a two-way street
Your editorial clamours 'The Medical Council needs transparency' (May 17), and says it should emulate its counterparts in other liberal democracies where details of disciplinary hearings, and the names of the implicated doctors, are disclosed for public information.
On the other hand, Hong Kong Medical Council chairwoman Felice Lieh Mak considers it unfair to name and shame doctors found guilty of professional misconduct.
Self-righteous journalists, who are poised to take the Medical Council to task, may well pause for some objective comparisons and honest self-introspection.
The council is targeted because medicine is about the least hypocritical, and the most vulnerable, among vocations privileged with professional self-governance.
Compare medicine with journalism. Despite self-styled impartiality, newspapers are all known to have their own political affinities, each with its private agenda.
Salaried journalists work under all sorts of pressures to selectively propagate some news and skirt other issues.
Senior editors have no qualms about vetoing juniors' decisions about publishing commentaries of correspondents, if such commentaries might put at risk good relations with customers and the authorities.
So, what is the difference between the Medical Council not disclosing the findings of its disciplinary hearing, and newspapers not publishing opinions incompatible with their business objectives?
Pierce Lam, Central
The plastic bag conundrum
I applaud the tax on plastic bags recently suggested by the government, but I understand what this means to the people who are part of the plastic bag manufacturing industry here.
As customers reduce their use of these bags, it will become increasingly difficult for people in the industry to support their families.
But something puzzles me. I use my ParknShop bags as rubbish bags.
I find it odd that other people would buy a roll of plastic rubbish bags from the shop when they are given plastic bags at the check-out counter for free.
I see my actions as examples of reusing and recycling, and also simply trying to be less consumer-oriented.
The answer is, then, for manufacturers to make biodegradable bags for use in supermarkets and elsewhere. The supermarket chains should demand this.
In this way, we would eliminate a need for plastic rubbish bags manufactured by large overseas corporations.
Joy Kingan, Discovery Bay