PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am

Leaders doing nothing to clean up filthy air

Wolfgang Ehmann makes an excellent point - each individual must contribute to a clean environment ('Dispelling some myths about incinerators', March 20). But I disagree with his conclusion, that sustainability is not only having the right leader wisely choose the right solution.

To paraphrase [New York Times columnist] Thomas L. Friedman: the greenest thing you can do is choose the right leaders, because they write the rules.

He said: 'Whatever any of us does individually matters ... But when leaders change the rules, you get scale change across the whole marketplace.'

I have lived in Hong Kong for three years and have yet to hear Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's administration make one meaningful statement - much less take meaningful action - about the city's pollution.

It seems that neither the Hong Kong authorities nor their Beijing masters are in control. The people who really run this city - the power companies and the moguls with myriad factories in Guangdong - are not accountable to anyone. With each breath of vile air, everyone living near the Pearl River Delta pays the price. On bad days, even The Peak sees particulate levels more than double the EU's most hazardous limits. Would Mr Ehmann really trust Mr Tsang's administration to install an incinerator 'with the highest health and safety standards'? Please, the authorities don't even require that bus companies meet emission standards.

The trash isn't piling up in the streets, but Hong Kong is far dirtier than Naples.

Every mother in this city knows children with serious breathing problems: babies on nebulisers before they can walk, three-year-olds on steroids for asthma.

So, to Hong Kong's rulers, both the de facto ones and those who really run the show - is this your legacy, turning Hong Kong into an ash heap that poisons its children?

A. K. Sherman, The Peak

Both sides to blame in crisis

Who is to blame for the situation in Tibet? I say both sides - Chinese authorities and Tibetan separatists, but I place more blame on the latter group.

I have been to the region twice in the last four years and all this talk of 'cultural genocide' is exaggerated.

The local culture is very much alive as it is the main selling point.

I have observed that locals are free to worship and get on with their lives, thus making the recent violence all the more shocking.

I suspect the violence is in part due to economic disparity.

Tibetans are too stubborn to learn the Chinese language, thus excluding themselves from economic progress.

Their claims that they have been left behind and only Han Chinese have benefited from economic development, are unfounded, as this is their own doing. Obtaining a proper education and embracing the wider Chinese language and culture don't have to come at the expense of their own indigenous religion and culture.

Beijing's handling of Tibet could certainly be more transparent.

Inviting non-governmental organisations as observers would be a good start.

Finally, for those in the west heavily critical of China's 'illegal' occupation of Tibet, let's see white people in America, Australia and New Zealand return to Europe first.

If one wants to talk about stealing land and illegal occupation, white European colonialists and their descendants are the undisputed winners.

Tony Chan, Tsim Sha Tsui

Tibetans must be given role

The protests in Tibet started out as peaceful, but things got out of hand.

No people are happy when occupied and managed by another people, and it is no different with the Tibetans.

Relations between India and China have been of the paranoid, cold-war variety, with Tibet seen as strategically important by these countries.

Both sides sought to influence Tibet.

The only way to establish peace in the region and ensure positive developments is for states that want to establish a buffer zone, to protect their interests, to nurture and assist Tibet.

Whether this takes the form of Tibet becoming an independent country, an autonomous zone or an integral part of a country, local Tibetans have to play a role in the government of Tibet at every level.

It would also be ideal if it was agreed that no non-Tibetan troops should be stationed in Tibet.

This would present a level playing field in the region for all interested parties concerned about security issues.

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong

Visa regulations are so unjust

I feel Fiona Mak ('UK visa rules are race-based', March 17) in her response to my letter ('Is visa rule down to race?', March 13) failed to understand my points.

I asked why a tourist to the mainland and I, a permanent resident for 17 years, should be charged the same visa fee.

I also asked why expats who are permanent residents continue to need visas to the mainland while local Chinese do not. Is the latter not a racist, or at least a discriminatory, policy, Ms Mak?

Ms Mak says the home visit permit is issued to 'those whose homes or whose ancestors' homes are in mainland China'.

Why do I have no right, even as a Hong Kong resident?

It is because the policy is based on race, which is either racist, discriminatory or both.

Why should the government base these permits on one's race?

Attempting to say Britain also was unfair simply says two wrongs make a right. If Britain in your opinion was wrong, then isn't China also at fault?

Finally, discrimination is not only on the mainland. It is doing well in Hong Kong, too.

I also will never get three stars on my identity card. Why? Because I am not Chinese. And did you know that domestic helpers who live here seven years or more can never get permanent residency?

Why is that and is it fair? Are not all people supposed to be treated equally?

I guess not on the mainland or in Hong Kong.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin

We should not pander to elite

I refer to the letter by C. Gibson ('Falling behind mainland', March 15), responding to my letter ('Reasons behind mother tongue', February 29), regarding medium of instruction.

The system must cater to the needs of the majority.

Most Hong Kong students will not have the opportunity to enter university, and would benefit more from being taught in their mother tongue rather than in English.

If mother-tongue teaching also happens to improve the chances of the minority to enter university, then all well and good. If it does not, then it must not be changed to cater to the needs of that minority.

The fact that it has not changed, however, has more to do with the standard of teaching.

The agony of having to put up with teachers whose English is not even half-baked, when at the same time the students' mother tongue is not English, has to be experienced to be believed.

Drawing comparisons between English-taught, and mother-tongue-taught, students is misleading. Elite students gravitate towards schools where the medium of instruction is English and, when it comes to elites, any system works.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan