PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2008, 12:00am

Why HK needs to have a plastic bag tax

The assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department, Alfred Lee, has clearly laid out the methodology used to estimate the number of plastic bags dumped per day ('Majority support for bringing in proposed plastic bag levy', April 26). This was in response to numerous requests from Alex F. T. Chu ('It does not make any green sense to buy plastic bin liners', May 3) and Charles Chow Chi-man ('Plastic bag law is ill-conceived', May 10). Yet, these gentleman are still not satisfied.

Once again, they are trying to muddy the waters. The voluntary scheme is not working. Very few shoppers bring their own bags and many demand extra bags at checkouts. Also, the number of plastic bags given to shoppers greatly exceeds the number necessary for hygienic disposal of waste. To state that two public opinion phone surveys last year are an inadequate gauge of public sentiment is to completely ignore the results of the extensive and well-publicised public consultation process that allowed respondents to forward their opinions by mail, fax and e-mail.

Furthermore, a strong reusable shopping bag can be made of environmentally friendly and biodegradable material, and be used for months. As for buying plastic bin liners, this is not necessary if people think outside the box. By carefully removing the wrapping on purchases, one can have a stock of bin bags in all shapes and sizes. Large quantities of plastic courier bags are dumped in offices every day.

Once again, nobody will go without plastic bags when the tax is in place. They can have as many as they want, as long as they pay for them. Hopefully, having to pay for them will encourage shoppers to question whether they need so many and to put pressure on shops to reduce the unnecessary packaging that takes up so much space. The public has not responded with any great enthusiasm to voluntary programmes, so it is now time to implement the user-pays principle in order to reduce unnecessary consumption. Once the bag tax is in place, the focus can then be turned to further measures to reduce unessential packaging and other abuses.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan

We must aim to be more caring

After reading D. R. Patterson's account of the poor treatment of maids ('We must make HK a more caring society', May 10), I sympathise with those women. In fact, many Hong Kong workers receive no better treatment from their employers than the maids. Very often, employers place excessive demands on workers but give them unreasonably low salaries. If the workers' performance is not satisfactory, employers will often sack them, without giving them a chance or thinking about their feelings.

Some workers are treated almost like slaves and earn a meagre income. I urge employers to think about how workers feel. Try to put yourselves in their shoes. I want to see Hong Kong becoming a more caring society.

Michael Leung Chung- hong,

Sham Shui Po

Simple way to help families

What with the recent surge in food prices and the government's huge surplus, here is something the administration could do that would have a direct, positive impact on the people of Hong Kong: subsidise school lunchboxes.

A recent news report said caterers would be forced to raise the price of meals they provide to our children in the classroom.

This is sad because many families probably cannot afford the higher cost of feeding their offspring at school.

The government could step in and use a small part of its billions of excess dollars to pay for these school lunches.

One option could be that each parent pays HK$10 per meal and the government covers the rest.

That would be a big help to many families. And, goodness knows, it might be the only decent meal some children get all day.

Rennie Marques, Lai Chi Kok

Government is misguided

Having smaller classes will lead to better communication between teachers and students.

Also, teachers can teach in more detail and students will benefit from this, especially if they have difficulty understanding something.

However, with smaller classes, pupils who are friends may be separated. Friends who work together in class can learn more, and it helps young people to learn social skills.

Also, I do not see the point in adopting this policy, just to keep schools open, because fewer pupils are now entering secondary schools. I think this is a misguided policy on the part of the government.

Karen Yuan Li-jia, Yau Ma Tei

Businesses are hard done by

With each passing day, my hopes for a reversal of the new China visa policy are dashed.

For weeks now, I've tried rationalising why the central government implemented this policy, which is totally restrictive and regressive.

If the government was concerned with terrorism and unwelcome visitors during the Olympics period, then the visitors who have had multiple-entry visas should be the least likely to pose any risk, since they have been to the mainland innumerable times and have always been law-abiding. It is the single-entry applicants who need better vetting.

The new rules have seriously crippled my business, which requires me to travel frequently to the mainland, assisting local developers in building hotels and resorts throughout China. Right now, we are assisting one of our clients to complete a new platinum five-star hotel in Beijing in time for the Olympics.

I applaud James Tien Pei-chun for speaking out on our behalf ('Closed-door policy', May 2). However, we need the Hong Kong government to really weigh in and urgently discuss how business can be conducted as usual for people like myself. I hold a Canadian passport but am also a Hong Kong permanent resident by birth and have enjoyed a multiple-entry visa to the mainland for many years.

Our business cannot afford to wait until October in the hope of a return to normalcy.

Richard Agon, Wan Chai

Security rule makes no sense

Security silliness has descended on our wonderful airport, with fine French wine being confiscated and destroyed.

On my way to Nepal to celebrate a friend's success, I had unwittingly placed a bottle of selected wine in my hand luggage for safety. It was confiscated under the dangerous liquids act and I was advised it would be 'demolished'.

On previous trips, I've had a Swiss Army penknife taken away by airport security, which was made available for collection upon my return to Hong Kong.

That's okay, and I understood the reasoning. While I had no plans to terrorise my fellow passengers with a litre of Haut Medoc, I understood that security was only following instructions. But destroy it? Why? What irked me was finding the identical wine for sale one short escalator ride down from 'security' inside the airport duty-free shops - at an outrageously inflated price.

Seething, I bought a replacement bottle, placed it in my carry-on bag and boarded the plane with no further ado.

In Kathmandu, my friend and I enjoyed the Medoc, leaving me wondering about the absurd instructions to the airport's 'fun police' from those on high.

Frank Fischbeck, Central