PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2007, 12:00am

Plastic bag blitz will fail to tackle pollution woes

ParknShop's decision to immediately end its 'no plastic bag' campaign ('ParknShop scraps 'no plastic bag' policy', November 26), was a hard-nosed business decision to U-turn when faced with an unworkable situation and a backlash from many of its customers.

It is all too easy for green groups to criticise this change of policy, but, as has been frequently stated in these columns, these bags are a necessity for many people, they are recycled, and frequently used to dispose of household rubbish.

The government should take note and reconsider its highly selective proposal to tax supermarket plastic bags. Such a policy might be more agreeable if it was part of an overall and comprehensive waste disposal programme involving taxes on other environmentally unfriendly plastic material such as bottles and lunchboxes, and the simultaneous aggressive promotion of biodegradable alternatives. But to single out plastic bags and only those provided by large retailers makes a mockery of any serious attempt to cut back on the use of plastic. ParknShop has decided that right now there is no viable alternative, but all Hongkongers should applaud its introduction of biodegradable bags.

There is also something innately wrong with selective taxation. If we go to a restaurant, are we required to buy a drink? No, so why when we spend a similar amount on groceries should we be asked to pay for the bags we use to carry our purchases? That is, I believe, what ParknShop's customers objected to - and management reacted accordingly.

J. R. Paine, Chai Wan

Residents urged to recycle

I refer to the letter by Bonnie Corwin ('Plastic bags are not wasted', November 23).

The government has launched a territory-wide programme on source separation of domestic waste which seeks to make it as convenient as possible for residents to participate in waste recovery and promotes floor-based facilities where residents can conveniently drop off their separated waste.

For buildings without sufficient space to set up waste separation facilities on each floor, separation bins can be set up on the ground floor to collect all types of recyclables for recycling such as waste paper, plastic bags and bottles, compact discs, metal containers, clothes, toys and electrical appliances. Some cleaners are also willing to separate recyclables from the refuse deposited by residents if it is not heavily contaminated. The recyclables collected from the building can then be sold directly to recyclers, and management companies or cleansing contractors may also pass on some benefits to the residents. So far more than 730 housing estates have signed up to join the source separation programme.

For those buildings which cannot join the programme, due to space or other constraints, residents can bring recyclables to the nearby three-coloured waste separation bins in public places for recycling. Since the beginning of 2005, the government has placed separation bins of a new design at public places which have larger openings to facilitate the collection of a wider range of recyclables and larger items such as all types of waste paper, metal containers and plastics, including plastic bags. The government will gradually replace old separation bins with the new-design bins.

The government has been calling on the general public to avoid the indiscriminate use of plastic bags. Clean and uncontaminated plastic bags can also be put into waste separation bins for recycling whereas contaminated bags can be used as trash bags.

The website (www.wastereduction.gov.hk) provides more information on the government's waste reduction and recovery initiatives.

Lawrence Wong, principal environmental protection officer, for director of Environmental Protection Department

Sex education inadequate

The Family Planning Association has highlighted the staggering increase in the number of teenagers having sexual intercourse ('One in nine teens has had sex but many don't know the facts of life', November 24).

There has to be better sex education for Hong Kong teenagers. There are two sex education programmes on TV, but there must be more, as teenagers watch a lot of television.

There is also insufficient sex education in schools. This is not good enough in a modern society where young people have easy access to a great variety of information that can mislead. Sex education must be compulsory in primary and secondary schools.

Hong Kong parents should be less conservative and must not avoid answering their children's questions about sex.

Yoyo Li Man-yan, Kowloon Tong

Bounty is not just for show

We refer to the article by Philip Bowring ('Money and power talk - more than ever today', November 27).

Referring to the replica three-masted tall ship, The Bounty, Bowring wondered if the ship would ever be 'seriously sailed' in Hong Kong.

Since its arrival in Hong Kong, The Bounty, has been seriously sailed many times between Discovery Bay and Central.

Furthermore, it did sail all the way from Sydney to Hong Kong.

On November 18, The Bounty was also the lead ship in the parade of the Hong Kong Harbour Day 2007.

The Bounty will continue to sail, where appropriate, in addition to the public viewings that we have planned for which the entry fee will be donated to charitable organisations.

Ernest Lau, senior manager, corporate affairs, HKR International Limited

Japan's ugly past

I refer to the report, 'Bush, Fukuda meet in attempt to paint over cracks in relations' (November 17).

US President George W. Bush said that 'the United States would not forget the importance Japan places on the unresolved issue of Japanese nationals kidnapped in North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s'.

Mr Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, did not mention that decades ago, it was the Japanese who had abducted the Koreans, in the thousands if not the tens of thousands, along with other citizens from other Asian nations. There has been no apology, no compensation, no admission and no expression of regret.

Peter Chu, Pok Fu Lam

All about profits

Does Hong Kong want to 'embrace the Muslim world' as your editorial put it so nicely ('Chance for HK to embrace Muslim world', November 21), referring to Hong Kong's first Islamic retail fund?

Not really, I hope. Hong Kong just wants its share of the oil money coming from authoritarian (royal) regimes in the Middle East that treat their foreign workers like slaves. Actually Muslims in many of these countries are oppressed and so are religious minorities.

In Saudi Arabia a 19-year-old female rape victim was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for just talking to a man ('Saudi court punishes rape victim with jail term and 200 lashes', November 17).

A 15-year-old boy had to flee Dubai as he risked being prosecuted for 'homosexual activity' after pressing charges against three alleged male rapists ('Homophobia, hostility await male rape victims who speak up', November 3). But who cares? It is glorious to get rich.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels