PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 August, 2009, 12:00am

Timberland serious about environment

In response to the article ('Timberland linked to polluting factories', August 7) I would like to thank Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs for engaging Timberland in their process to create positive environmental change on the mainland.

We take our corporate commitment to environmental responsibility seriously and we value the input of like-minded groups like these two non-governmental organisations to help ensure that our environmental standards are being met throughout the world, and with every supplier and factory we do business with.

The environmental violations cited by Friends of Nature and the institute were surprising, as our most recent audits and those conducted independently by the British Leather Council - based on an assessment protocol put together by the Leather Working Group (a multi-stakeholder group focused on environmental priorities and driving improvements in the leather tanning industry) - failed to uncover the same violations at the factories in question.

Clearly, we need to better understand the circumstances and time frame behind the findings noted on the NGOs' websites in comparison with the details behind our own compliance data to explain the discrepancy and ensure the rigour of our assessment process.

In addition to working closely with Friends of Nature and the institute on this issue, we are also actively engaged with the factories in question.

We wish to learn more about how they have responded to these reported violations and to understand what measures they are taking to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations, as well as the stringent standards of our industry and our company.

As a global brand, there are challenges to ensuring that our policies and values translate clearly through every link in our global supply chain. We are fortunate to be able to leverage the knowledge and expertise of groups like Friends of Nature and the institute to help us identify issues when they exist and to work with us to create sustainable environmental improvements and positive outcomes.

We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs on this issue and hope to channel our mutual passion and interest for more powerful environmental change in the future.

Gordon Peterson, vice-president corporate social responsibility, Timberland

Don't involve police in tests

I have serious doubts about the drug test scheme to be introduced in some schools.

The objectives are unclear. Are we trying to help students with a drug-abuse problem and provide help to them quickly, or use them as an 'information source' to get to the drug traffickers?

The police interrogation process will be traumatic and will cause more emotional problems for teachers and social workers to handle. It removes the feeling of safety students have when they come forward to talk honestly to teachers or social workers.

The trust between students and social workers will be damaged, making it more difficult to provide help. Students with a drug problem will be driven away instead of being helped.

The only time the police should be involved is when a student is found in possession of, or trying to distribute, illicit drugs.

Virginia Yue, Tsuen Wan

A good way to foster contempt

Drug testing has been tried in other parts of the world and it does not have a significant impact on reducing drug abuse.

I wonder if Eugene K. K. Chan, vice-chairman of the Association of Hong Kong Professionals ('We must act to curb youth drug problem in HK', August 14) would be in favour of the scheme if it were being piloted in the top-tier Anglo-Chinese schools? Does Angela Chong, of Macau, want to live in a society where she can be searched on suspicion of any crime ('Nothing wrong with testing', August 14)? In both cases, I think the answer would be 'no'. If it is happening to 'someone else', it will be okay.

Drug testing of students is likely to result in a student testing positive because of doctor-prescribed medication. They will probably learn how to circumvent the tests. Drug abuse education should be a priority. Students will be pressured into this 'voluntary' testing scheme by teachers, school administrators, parents and fellow students.

Testing will not reduce drug abuse but it will lessen students' respect for authority and confirm there is little respect for human rights in Hong Kong. This is a poor lesson to teach our young people.

William Proudfit, Discovery Bay

Put knowledge first, not exams

Whenever the public exam results are released, newspapers are full of stories about talented straight-A students. The public in Hong Kong is still blindly obsessed with good exam results.

However, there are thousands of Form Five students who get zero marks in the Certificate of Education Examination and they are labelled as failures. What sort of future do they have?

There is so much pressure on young people to get that crucial university place.

Even after lessons, many secondary-school pupils have to attend tutorial colleges. For many, their genuine thirst for learning is extinguished by the rote-learning system that operates in our schools. I hope that, under the education reforms, this kind of learning culture will change.

Lessons are currently too exam-oriented. The acquisition of knowledge should be the first priority in a school.

Rebecca Wong, Kwun Tong

Time to focus on packaging

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association reports that, since the implementation of the 50 cents levy on plastic bags, there has been a drop in impulse buys because shoppers have no more room in their shopping bags.

There is a very easy solution to this: remove excess packaging. All the extra trays, boxes and other containers take up far too much room in one's shopping bag.

Add to that the growing number of shoppers who avoid purchasing overpacked goods and it is clear that it makes commercial sense to make purchases as light and compact as possible.

However, instead of anticipating the consequences of the bag tax, many stores have increased the amount of packing on the goods they sell - so they only have themselves to blame for the reduction in sales.

They should now see that less is best when it comes to squeezing as much as possible into one bag and should take immediate action to adapt to changing market conditions.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan

Lines crossed

I refer to the report about the special phone number ('Pharmacist hotline receives more than 50 calls', August 14).

Intrigued, I tried to get the telephone number from the PCCW inquiry hotline, but they had no idea. Nor did the Department of Health when I called 2961 8989, although they do have their own complaints hotline - 2572 2068 - even if no one answered the call during office hours.

What is the point of providing such a service to the public and not publicising the inquiry phone number?

William Chao, Tuen Mun