PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 January, 2009, 12:00am

We must help people become culture vultures

There has been a lot of talk about when the first building will go up on the site of the West Kowloon Cultural District. In looking at this project the emphasis has been on the buildings, but what about the software?

We do not want to repeat the mistakes that were made with the Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science Park, where there is insufficient software to complement the hardware.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority must engage the public and the relevant professionals in discussions over the blueprint for the district as soon as possible.

At the same time, use should be made of our existing cultural facilities to foster in the public an understanding of and fondness for culture. Given that this city is a financial hub most Hongkongers do not care too much about cultural development.

During their free time, they would prefer to go to a pop concert than watch an opera or a play, or visit a museum.

The blueprint for the cultural district must offer more choice to people of different generations. And we should not forget the facilities in our districts which should be integrated into the blueprint and plans for cultural development in Hong Kong.

The government does not appear to be doing enough at present to advance the cultural aspects of this project.

It is also important to ask if Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen is the right person to chair the cultural district authority.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

Why bag levy law is wrong

The government will give a bag levy exemption to department stores on selected items ('Partial exemption from bag levy for big stores', January 1).

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) says stores could apply to have certain cashier counters exempted from charging for bags. Retailers are concerned that the arrangements could cause undue problems to stores as well as confusion and inconvenience to customers.

Taking those arguments against the bag levy factually, it is abundantly clear that plastic shopping bags are not culprits when it comes to our environmental or waste problems.

The bag levy is in fact not an environmental issue but rather, an issue on the fundamental principles behind its legislation.

Based on the figure from the Hong Kong Retail Management Association that only 770 million bags a year (0.3 bag per person per day) are all they could have given out, it is not difficult to see that the excessive figures used by the EPD on bag saving and bags thrown away are simply incredible.

Also, the association said the government has acted against its own consultants' recommendation of a voluntary reduction measure instead of a bag levy ('Consultants' advice ignored', December 20).

The EPD has not been able to give a clear definition of what constitutes an abuse. And yet, the abuse of plastic shopping bags was its main reason for imposing a levy.

The department says the bag levy will encourage customers to use fewer plastic carrier bags. But fewer free plastic carrier bags will be replaced by the same number of 'levy-free' plastic bin liners for throwing away our rubbish.

The EPD has therefore misled the public and our legislature on the bag levy.

Such a fundamentally flawed bag levy should not be implemented.

Alex Hung, Mong Kok

Warfare has no noble goals

I refer to Alex Lo's article ('War may change, but not the casualties', January 8).

US senator Hiram Warren Johnson's comments at the end of the first world war that truth is the first casualty of war is still very relevant in the present world with improvements in military technology and the related PR machinery.

The weapons of mass destruction claims resulting in the Iraq war, pictures of American soldiers distributing chocolates among Iraqi children, Afghan citizens welcoming US soldiers with open arms, stories of the popularity of British soldiers in Basra, all reflect how the truth is suppressed.

Then the world sees with horror the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the condition of inmates in Guantanamo Bay, indiscriminate firing by US private security agencies in Iraq and the inhuman treatment of prisoners by the British forces in Basra.

In the present Gaza conflict we have seen enough corpses of children to remind us that such warfare can never achieve a noble goal and can never be justified. Fortunately, irrespective of the intense PR efforts, the truth will ultimately prevail and lies will be exposed.

Dyutimoy Chakraborty, Quarry Bay

Switch on to green lifestyle

A number of your correspondents have written to these columns about energy saving light bulbs.

These light bulbs are collected for recycling in Hong Kong. Improper disposal may lead to pollution. However, proper use and disposal leads to massive environmental advantages - saving energy, saving the Earth's limited resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, ordinary light bulbs generate more heat and in the hot weather this leads to increased energy consumption by air conditioners. I was in Britain in October and one large supermarket chain was selling a limited supply of energy saving bulbs for the equivalent of HK$1 instead of the usual HK$25.

In Hong Kong there is no excuse for people not to try to work harder to reduce energy use and live a greener life.

W. K. Yau, Tai Po

Uphill struggle

Filipino diplomat Rodolfo Severino praises Deng Xiaoping for having radically changed Mao Zedong's agricultural policies and guided China's emergence as a global economic power ('Man who altered history,' December 29).

What a pity that, instead of rehashing Chinese political history and mentioning his role as a spectator, he did not expound on how China's example could be adapted to tackle the myriad problems that breed so much misery and unrest in his own country.

Glibly admiring Deng's draconian handiwork is easy, what's hard is to seriously advocate policies that could pull a country like the Philippines out of its perennial poverty. Short of exterminating greedy landlords, as was done in China, how could the badly needed land reform neglected by successive Manila administrations be implemented?

The Filipino elite, composed of powerful landowners and politicians, keeps perpetuating a traditionally feudal system which has been intractable. One wonders if Mr Severino views Deng Xiaoping as a role model for Filipino leaders.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Protect victims

I do not understand the logic behind those religious groups opposed to the Domestic Violence Ordinance.

They claim that the law, if it includes protection for same-sex couples, would distort the sacredness of marriage and family. But as Michele Kalish pointed out ('Missing the point on law', January 8) the issues here are abuse and violence. It is about protecting people.

If God is as benevolent as these religious bodies believe, would he wish to see anyone, regardless of his or her sexual orientation, become a victim of domestic violence?

Colin Lai Tak-chung, Ap Lei Chau