PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 December, 2008, 12:00am

Government must do more to clean up air

It would seem as if the government is taking a large step towards improving air quality in Hong Kong by agreeing to revise the air quality objectives according to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) air quality guidance.

The latest policy address promised this [so-called] improvement and Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said later that Hong Kong would follow the WHO standards, but only the preliminary targets.

What the government is offering is not enough to improve Hong Kong's air quality.

For example, the annual concentration rate for respiratory suspended particulates (RSP) in the new standard is 70 micrograms per cubic metre.

The present RSP standard is 55 micrograms per cubic metre.

Why is our government adopting the higher figure, which is a lowering of standards? The WHO's guidance comprises a series of targets across different stages which leads to an ultimate target.

The new figure, in accordance with the WHO's lowest standard, is not in line with much stricter targets. Why is the government adopting a target for air quality that poses a higher risk for citizens?

The air quality objectives that the administration adopts should benefit Hongkongers. If it really wants better air for Hong Kong, it must immediately revise its air quality objectives to the most stringent level.

The present level will not lead to an improvement of our air.

We should have an air quality constitution, which would lay down all policies related to our air and which would influence areas such as city planning and urban renewal.

For example, stricter air quality objectives could halt the construction of buildings that would be responsible for the 'wall effect' - blocked air circulation - and they might lead to a reduction of the number of cars travelling through Central and so result in less congestion. Greenpeace is dissatisfied that the government has come up with a piecemeal plan.

The government must have a clear timetable and adopt the most stringent air quality standards, so that Hong Kong citizens can enjoy clear air.

Prentice Koo, campaigner, Greenpeace

Petrol discount tactics wrong

Whoever is the marketing guru at the leading international oil company here in Hong Kong should be publicly condemned for coming up with the scheme offering 10 per cent discounts on petrol purchases at their stations on Sundays only.

Not only is this unfair to consumers who need to fill up on the other six days of the week, but it creates unnecessary delays and traffic congestion around their pumps on Sundays.

In fact I am so turned off by their scheme and the long wait on Sundays that I now as a matter of choice go to another company's stations that offer a higher discount every day.

This is another example of the public's dissatisfaction with the oil companies' practice of immediate price hikes when the cost of oil is going up, but delayed or disguised lowering of prices when the reverse happens.

The government should respond by opening up the gasoline retail market to even more operators, and not protect these multinationals any more.

Woo Chung-lien, Mid-Levels

Important part of our history

It is understandable that, in a time when economic conditions are gloomy and many people can't even secure their jobs, the public would pay less attention to heritage preservation.

Nevertheless, it remains important and we need to ensure sustainable development in the city.

The government should lead by recognising and showcasing the value of the city's heritage sites. The Urban Renewal Authority's decision to scale down the redevelopment project in Staunton Street has reminded me that many people are working hard to try to preserve the city's valuable assets.

Two months ago, I met an 80-year-old man who owns a printing shop in the Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street H19 redevelopment zone.

He wrote to the district council offering to donate all his printing equipment and establish a printing history museum in the zone, which used to be the printing service hub of Hong Kong.

He would not benefit from this financially. He simply wants to help preserve what is left of this industry.

He believes this museum would help the next generation understand how the industry operated decades ago.

This is the sort of thing that is worth learning about.

Jarvy Y. L. Chan, Kwun Tong

Brick invention is eco-friendly

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has written to these columns before, explaining why glass is not sent abroad for recycling and ends up instead in a landfill.

Now that a Hong Kong inventor has found a way to reuse old glass by making pavement bricks from it ('Eco-friendly brick cuts pollution, says inventor', November 21), we can only hope our government becomes the top client for the 'Eco-Block' and thereby supports the local economy.

It should use these environmentally friendly bricks instead of concrete. This would mean there was no longer any need to dump our old glass products in landfills.

Our recycling-material collectors, whom we see daily collecting cardboard, could get involved in glass collection. I would like to know when we can expect to see glass collection containers placed next to the other recycling bins?

I will keep my empty bottles in the hope of being surprised by fast action by the EPD.

H. P. Kerner, Clear Water Bay

Fine production

It is not often that Hong Kong produces outstanding musical theatre, which is why the Chinese International School deserves many congratulations for its splendid production of The King and I at the Academy for Performing Arts last weekend, to celebrate the school's 25th anniversary.

Kudos goes to all those involved, from the terrific musicians to the wonderful set and costume designers and particularly the cast of the show who, although all amateurs and very young, performed to a very high standard.

Particular thanks should go, of course, to the backers of the show, without whom it might not have been possible to hold the show at the Academy for Performing Arts.

That outstanding production is one that more Hong Kong people should see, so as to realise the need for more such artistic endeavours. Because it had such a short run, one hopes it can be extended for this holiday season and perhaps even be shown at local schools next year.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Thai farce

I refer to your editorial ('Enough is enough - rule of law must prevail', November 27), which reflects the general mood of the international community on the political farce that has been going on in Thailand.

The 'protesters' put all the people behind them into discredit, no matter how powerful they are. Democracy must prevail in Thailand if Thais want to retain the confidence of international investors and protect their tourism industry.

Sam Chow, Central