Bag tax rethink shows lack of commitment to green policies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am

I refer to the letter by Alex F. T. Chu ('Delay of plastic bag levy should lead to a major rethink', February 12), on the topic of the proposed levy on plastic bags.

There should certainly be a major rethink in our community. When people all over the world are seriously concerned about the deteriorating quality of the environment and how to tackle and resolve the causes, here in Hong Kong the majority is fiddling while Rome burns.

To date even the most innocuous and timid proposals to achieve a modicum of change have met with solid resistance from the vested interests and conservatives in our midst. Encouraging shoppers to take fewer plastic bags and demand less packaging, seems to be too much trouble for our retail trade and bag manufacturers would have to get inventive. A ban on idling engines is being cobbled together by the transport lobby that has our government in fear and trembling. The HK$1 reduction on rice portions to help reduce food waste has not received a positive response. Not one measure to improve the environment has been met with enthusiasm by Hong Kong's spoilt and selfish populace.

Our government has demonstrated time and again that it does not have the will to push through legislation that would demonstrate Hong Kong is ready to bite the bullet and finally fulfil its duty to ensure that its citizens enjoy clean air, food and water.

On the contrary it has just given property developers the green light to develop the few green zoned sites on heavily polluted streets via the Town Planning Board's retrospective zoning of Hopewell Holdings QRE Plaza.

Our legislators keep blocking passage of even heavily watered-down proposals to curb excessive consumption and improve air quality.

A major rethink is indeed long overdue. Unfortunately, it will take a local catastrophe on the lines of the bushfires in Australia or the Sichuan earthquake to convince people here that our wasteful lifestyle and disregard for the environment are no longer sustainable, and that Hong Kong must join hands with the rest of the world in tackling climate change and pollution.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan