No excuse for HK officials' incompetence
I was disappointed with the way in which the SAR government treated Hong Kong citizens who were stranded in Thailand a few days ago. The government acted irresponsibly during the crisis. Officials appeared to be trying to ignore this issue and were incapable of dealing with the crisis as it unfolded. They displayed a severe lack of risk-management skills.
It was ironic to see helpless Hong Kong citizens in Thailand, while at the same time watching the happy faces of mainlanders who were able to get back home.
It was embarrassing to see how ineffective our government was. This is not the first time our officials have failed to meet the expectations of Hong Kong people.
The government has been spending millions to promote civic education. I think the best way to do this is for a government to demonstrate that it cares about its citizens.
Officials should treat the needs of citizens as a priority instead of thinking about their own prospects.
It was clear from what happened in Thailand that our officials lacked the confidence to make important decisions.
They hesitated when they should have acted.
Instead of spending millions on television advertisements, I think the government should spend more money on training its officials on how to deal with a crisis such as the one that occurred in Bangkok.
Jeffrey Li Yiu-hong, Tai Wai
PAD-locking of airport justified
Congratulations to the Thai opposition protesters for their perseverance in seeking their version of justice, a justice delivered on Tuesday by the Thai courts. Their actions, though economically disruptive, demonstrated rare people power in what is otherwise an 'age of civil docility'.
Now that the alleged vote-buying by the Thai ruling party has been lawfully condemned, the protesters have given the airport back. The actions of the People's Alliance for Democracy should be an example to citizens everywhere.
Disruption is sometimes necessary and is worth the financial sacrifice.
The spirit of the Thai protesters could have been useful when the disastrous Iraq war was started, based on false information and fraudulent propaganda. Despite mild opposition, US citizens remained largely apathetic.
Certainly the illegitimacy of the Iraq war was on the same criminal level as the highly opposed Vietnam war, a war cut short because of protests.
The Thai opposition spirit could have been useful after mainland Chinese officials claimed the massive school deaths after the Sichuan earthquake had nothing to do with shoddy construction work.
Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world and it is being perpetuated by the current cast of superpowers and aspiring superpowers, to the detriment of ordinary citizens. Let us hope the spirit of civil disobedience against unjust and corrupt governments sees a revival.
Peter Daignault, Central
Glass recycling ideas welcome
I refer to the letters by Mark Chan and H. P. Kerner ('Brick offers glass solution', December 1 and 'Brick invention is eco-friendly', December 2), regarding the recycling of used glass bottles to make bricks.
The Environmental Protection Department has been exploring possible means to enhance glass recycling.
Last month we launched a glass-container-recycling programme for the hotel sector in collaboration with the Hong Kong Hotels Association and 11 major hotels.
Under the programme, used beverage glass containers generated from the participating hotels are collected for reprocessing at a local recycling plant, which will crush the containers into glass sand and use it as an engineering material in the production of paving blocks.
The relatively low scrap value of glass containers compared to other materials like paper, plastic and metals has posed a major challenge to the promotion of glass recycling in Hong Kong. Local recycling is further constrained by the absence of large-scale investment in manufacturing plants using glass as a material in large quantities.
We will continue to explore possible means to extend the recycling programme to more hotels and other sectors in the near future.
It is also the government's policy to encourage departments to, as far as practicable, use environmentally friendly materials in carrying out works projects.
We appreciate your readers' suggestions and support.
Patrick Lei, for director of environmental protection
Driving not an automatic right
I refer to the report ('Minister rejects idea of automatic suspensions for reckless drivers', November 29), regarding comments made by Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng.
What about the human rights and livelihoods of those killed or injured on the roads, Ms Cheng? Are they not important?
Driving on the roads should not be regarded as a right; it should be seen as a privilege that has to be earned by reaching a certain level of competence and one that is lost if abused.
Drivers who amass 15 penalty points deserve to lose their licences.
How can it be right to put their 'human rights' and their 'livelihoods' before those of potential victims of accidents?
If these drivers fail to register a change of address they have committed a further offence, and they can be traced when the licence of the vehicle being driven has to be renewed; it cannot be that difficult.
Let me remind the minister of the slogan: 'Zero accidents on the road: Hong Kong's goal.' Please could we have some evidence that you mean it.
Peter Robertson, Sai Kung
Maid levy may have a future
I agree with the five-year suspension of the maid levy. However, further discussion is needed before a decision is made on whether or not to scrap it.
It is reasonable to suspend the levy and lessen the pressure on the middle class during such a serious economic crisis.
However, during periods of economic calm when members of the middle class have jobs and a stable income, HK$400 is not a huge expense.
They must assume more financial responsibilities than people on low incomes during periods when the economy has recovered from a slump.
However, once the levy is reintroduced, families which employ domestic helpers to help look after a family member who is chronically ill, could apply for an exemption, so they do not have to pay the HK$400.
Chelsea Lee, Tsuen Wan
White dolphins deserve better
Sacrificing the Chinese white dolphin for a bridge [the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge] is sacrilege.
They have as much right as we do to live in this world. These intelligent, noble and beautiful creatures should at least be offered a sanctuary.
I hope our government will take the initiative to make this possible. Future generations will thank it for doing so and it would hopefully make Hong Kong an eco-tourist destination.
Jean Afford, Causeway Bay