PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 January, 2009, 12:00am

Thanks to government, harbour will not survive for much longer

The report and editorial ('Questions over pier that became a platform reclaimed from the sea' and 'Project makes a nonsense of rules on reclamation', December 28) have exposed the government's callous attitude towards reclamation.

Enjoy Hong Kong's harbour and foreshores while you can. They will not survive for much longer in the light of the government's disrespect for the rule of law, disdain for protection of the environment and its mindset like a real estate company interested only in producing more land from the sea for economic benefits.

Society for Protection of the Harbour has done its best to protect Hong Kong's environment against the damage which is done through reclamation.

We had sponsored the enactment of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and enforced it against the government by securing the Court of Final Appeal judgment in 2004.

We also obtained the recent High Court judgment which ruled against the government's claim that its proposed reclamation at the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter was merely 'temporary' and therefore not protected by the ordinance.

Our society was disappointed that the government had used such a lame excuse to try to get around the ordinance.

Surely, the government should not regard the law as an inconvenience and attempt to find loopholes in the law.

Instead it should set an example to the people it is charged to lead and should not only abide by the letter of the law, but also show respect for the spirit of the rule of law.

It is also disappointing that, despite the High Court judgment, the government still allows its main contractor to again use the same lame excuse that the reclamation for the pier at Cyberport was merely 'temporary' to get around the law.

Winston Chu Ka-sun, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour

Cull pigeons to curb bird flu threat in HK

Day after day we read and hear stories in the media about the threat of 'avian flu'.

What ultimately is the government doing about it other than culling chickens from an infected farm when the alarm goes? Is there an underlying reason that despite such precautions this 'plague' threat, if I may call it so, still persists?

Could the free-flying pigeons we see around our high residential towers carry the virus too?

I moved into a flat in Yau Yat Tsuen several weeks ago and see nothing but the droppings of pigeons all over the parapets and on the tops of air-conditioners in the light wells.

Often pigeon feathers come through even tiny window openings.

Obviously some families have been feeding them as pigeons have been feral for some years now.

Our daughter complains from her 19th floor apartment in the Prince Edward MTR station area of pigeons waking her up in the night.

The government warns of the seriousness of 'avian flu' and the ever-present threat of the H5N1 virus being transmitted to humans. What we need is a strategy to cull these pigeons. Such a cull can be attempted.

For example, I saw more than 50 pigeons feeding at the corner of Dumbarton and La Salle roads in Kowloon Tong one recent evening.

A systematic culling may well drastically reduce the number of these pigeons and the risk to humans. Government must address this problem as soon as possible.

O. H. Mark, Yau Yat Tsuen

Respect for animals must go beyond pandas

Chinese people are very fond of pandas. They support the conservation of pandas and would never dream of eating panda meat.

The same cannot be said about their attitude towards other animals, which are not afforded the same level of respect and protection.

There is a long list of animals which either make it on to the dinner table or are used for traditional Chinese medicine.

Even animals which like the giant panda are regarded as threatened species (that is, included in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) such as bears, river dolphins and box turtles, are not spared.

Conservationists, government departments, non-governmental organisations, the media and the public should think about this. They should ask how it is that the panda enjoys this exalted and untouchable status, when every other animal is considered fair game in China.

Only when the giant panda's 'recipe for success' is revealed and applied non-exclusively can there be real hope that other animals will enjoy understanding and be protected.

Will Lai, Western

Beadman should not have saddled up

As we all know, horse racing is a serious business in Hong Kong.

Many people spend hours working out our 'handicapping systems' based on form, weight and often follow horses based on the riders piloting them.

At the important January 1 meeting at Sha Tin, jockey Darren Beadman could not complete his rides and [was stood down].

This also happened the last time the jockey rode on December 20.

This is completely unfair to punters who follow this jockey.

It's a bit like being able to change one's bets in the middle of a race.

If Beadman is unfit, he should very simply not be allowed to ride.

The Jockey Club, which passed him fit to ride at the January 1 meeting, owes followers of Beadman some explanation for what happened.

Perhaps bets placed on what were Beadman's rides should even be refunded.

As mentioned, Beadman 'pulled the pin' on his rides on December 20.

He took some time off and we were told that he was ready for action.

Some of us placed our bets based on the fact that he was the rider and he made his short-lived 'return'.

Darren Beadman is a first-class jockey. If, however, he has not fully recovered from an injury, he should do the right thing and either decide whether to ride or to sit it out.

He was not doing himself, his stable, Hong Kong racing and his followers any favours.

As we say, put up or give up.

Hans Ebert, Mid-Levels

Paper bags can easily be used by shoppers

The Legislative Council should pass the government's proposal to levy plastic shopping bags at 50 cents each.

However, it should review the levy after implementation of the law if the amount of plastic bags being used remains unchanged.

Like cigarette tax, the plastic bag levy is a way of changing people's habits.

The tobacco tax has proved effective at reducing smoking in the United States.

In the case of a tax on plastic bags in Hong Kong, if the levy fails in its purpose of reducing use of plastic bags, then they should be outlawed.

I do not think this is unreasonable. Reusable plastic bags, however, should still be allowed.

Paper shopping bags have been in use for many years and such bags can also hold household refuse.

It would be a marvellous idea if a strip could be added to the paper bag, which seals the top, to ensure the hygienic disposal of refuse.

I think this idea of a paper bag would offer a most practical solution when it comes to how we bag our groceries and take them home.

John Yuan, Beijing