PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2008, 12:00am

Talks with fast food industry can cut waste

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah has appealed to Hong Kong people to cut down on the amount of waste they generate in order to reduce pressure on our limited landfill facilities. However, some glaring examples of waste generation require a collective solution and this can only be achieved through public programmes.

Every month hundreds of thousands of paper tray covers are disposed of by our fast food chains. None of these restaurant chains will take the initiative to be the first to stop using the tray covers for fear of a reduction in customer numbers. The solution is therefore to convince all the fast food chains to declare that from a specific date, and for environmental purposes, all of them will cease using the paper tray covers. This will ensure a level playing field.

Consensus could subsequently be reached on eliminating, for example, the plastic bags for cutlery, disposable drink spoons and throwaway chopsticks where applicable and disposable containers for salads.

A crisis in the rice supply is predicted yet thousands of kilos are dumped here daily. As with the HK$2 supplement for iced drinks, diners wanting a larger portion should pay extra. A systematic and scaled approach would achieve significant waste reduction with minimal impact on commercial operations.

Could Mr Yau advise your readers if he has taken any steps to arrange a meeting with representatives of our fast food operators, with a view to engaging the co-operation of their sector in a city-wide waste reduction programme?

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

Opportunity squandered

Hong Kong has again missed the chance to stand out as a 'world city'.

This time it has lost out to Sydney which took the initiative to launch WWF's Earth Hour and encourage 23 other world cities and even Google to turn out the lights to draw attention to the problem of global warming ('Lights out please, Sydney is first major city in hour of darkness', March 30).

Hong Kong had the chance to be a world leader and get the positive worldwide publicity that Sydney is presently enjoying, when a Lamma resident proposed a similar idea of turning off the lights in Central a couple of years ago.

Far from taking up the idea, the Hong Kong government dismissed it out of hand.

Hong Kong needs to welcome imaginative ideas that promote the need for energy conservation in the territory.

Paris thought up the idea of cheap bicycle rental stalls, London is famous for its congestion charge, whereas Hong Kong remains famous for its smog.

Why can't our government have the courage to stand up to vested interests, take a bold step for the environment and even perhaps get some good publicity worldwide into the bargain?

Huen Yee Vidler-Lee, Discovery Bay

Expats get good deal in HK

Terry Scott seems unaware of the difference between nationality and residency ('Visa regulations are so unjust', March 26). In most states, nationality is based on lineage, birth, and naturalisation, whereas the qualification for residency is regulated by immigration policies.

Hong Kong's residency requirement is mostly unchanged from the time when it was under British administration. That is why expatriates, like Mr Scott, have got permanent residency but not foreign domestic helpers. The cause of discrimination has been based on need, not race. Hong Kong used to recruit dentists from the Philippines when it did not have its own dental school.

For future immigration policy, Hong Kong may refer to Britain's current requirements for applicants of permanent residency, who must pass a test proving their understanding of the native language and the life of the country. Hong Kong residents not entitled to a home visit permit can visit the mainland without a visa if they get an HKSAR passport. Naturalisation varies among different countries. In Britain, non-European applicants must pass a language test which is not required for non-English-speaking European applicants. This discriminatory language rule does not exist for applicants for Hong Kong's residency or naturalised citizenship. Many expatriates cannot speak Cantonese despite their many years here.

Mr Scott missed the main point about equality. There is no absolute standard for what is fair or unfair in human and international relations. When all factors are considered, China and Hong Kong have fairer immigration policies than Hong Kong's expats and migrant workers could find elsewhere.

Fiona Mak, Tseung Kwan O

Asking for same treatment

I don't really understand Simon Appleby's point about a visa being insurance against possible problems on the mainland ('Visa costs small for 'insurance' ', March 28).

Surely I, as a British citizen and passport holder, can call on the British consulate for help in an emergency, even if I am issued with a home return permit. It won't affect my nationality or citizenship. My husband, who is ethnic Chinese, has a home return permit but still retains his British passport. He does not have an HKSAR passport or Chinese citizenship. Our circumstances are exactly the same, the only difference being that I am Caucasian. I am just asking for the same treatment.

I don't see why I have to pay more than HK$1,000 for only two visits for this type of 'insurance' and it doesn't change the fact that non-ethnic Chinese are discriminated against.

Mary Potter, Tsim Sha Tsui

Point missed on road pricing

I am astounded at the statement by a government official that an electronic road pricing charge of HK$90 for a trip to/through Central could not be applied because no driver would pay it ('Bypass could halve levy for drive to Central', March 30).

It is amazing that this government cannot seem, or is unwilling, to understand that refusal to pay such a charge is precisely why road pricing works in other jurisdictions. Surely if the charge was 'acceptable' then road pricing would fail since it would not reduce the number of vehicles on our overcrowded roads.

Does the government really need to commission any more consultancies or studies for this particular penny to drop?

Jeremy Newton, Happy Valley

Dubious claims

We have all got used to seeing the numerous government-sponsored signs around town, proclaiming Hong Kong as 'Asia's world city'. It is nice to have this dream, but are we there, yet? Just proclaiming something does not make it true.

In any case, I can't help wondering why our public funds are wasted on paying for advertising this slogan here in Hong Kong. If we really are already a world city, then we surely already know it. It is others abroad we need to convince.

I have just noticed a new slogan, doubtless thought up by the same bright sparks in the government PR division. New signs around Hong Kong tell us that we are 'the equine capital'.

Did other readers know this? I certainly did not. Most people in Hong Kong have never seen a horse, other than at the racetrack. So what could possibly justify such an overblown claim?

Rob Leung, Wan Chai