Still no progress on incinerator after 30 years
I fully agree with Richard Paine that we can learn from the example of Japan on waste disposal ('Incinerators will be good for Hong Kong', September 16).
However, I fear the outcome may be similar to the result of a visit by urban councillors about 30 years ago to Singapore and Japan, both of which have successfully built sophisticated incinerator systems.
I was a member of that urban council team and we watched in amazement how the incinerators siphoned off reusable metals, gases and other components, before burning the remainder of the rubbish - and it was almost smokeless.
Our team was enthusiastic to save precious land and dispose of rubbish usefully and cleanly. We recommended the system to the then colonial government.
Nothing was done and Hong Kong continued to use precious land and risk the environment. Why? According to the government, wherever it has proposed a site for the incinerators, local residents said 'No, not in my backyard.' The government, maybe thankfully (one cannot tell) welcomed the rejection and saved cash but wasted land.
Will the Legislative Council team [which visited Japan] fare better? I hope so. But I suspect that everyone will agree with the incinerator proposal, on condition it is Nimby. Will the government humbly submit instead of finding a feasible solution?
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
Poor to bear climate costs
I disagree with Samuel Chan's letter ('Carbon tax fair', September 7).
His suggestion of a 'reasonable' surcharge of HK$50 per tonne is a low, useless levy. Many reports suggest a much higher figure, such as US$50. The Stern Review on climate change found the marginal abatement cost for each tonne of carbon in China to be about US$25 to bring levels of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere down to reasonable levels.
The suggestion that it is fairer for everyone to pay for what they use neglects the fact that it would place a burden on the very poor who pay little income tax but who use oil in many ways as a necessity.
Furthermore, a lowering of income tax helps the rich in absolute terms; the poor are most effectively helped through a subsidy.
I believe we need to be proactive to stop climate change. We should act as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of being effective. The hare may have been fast, but the tortoise won the race.
Vishal Mirpuri, Mid-Levels
Open mind on street revamp
I refer to the letter by Pearl Lam ('Pedestrianisation has very poor track record in Mong Kok', September 8).
The Urban Renewal Authority's proposed revitalisation plan, which involves five themed streets in Mong Kok, seeks to enhance the overall ambience and local character of the five streets.
Streetscape and pedestrian connectivity improvements, together with greening of the environment, installation of themed street furniture, special directional signage and decorative pavements are proposed.
The URA has only made an initial proposal.
We are keeping an open mind as to whether certain parts of the streets should be turned into pedestrianised zones.
Pedestrianisation proposals demand careful consideration.
We have to ask if it is needed and look at the technical feasibility and ask if stakeholders would accept it, before any decision is made.
The URA will shortly commission a consultancy firm to study and work out a design proposal in greater detail.
We will then work closely with relevant government departments on the proposal, and the views of Yau Tsim Mong District Council, local residents and shop operators, as well as those of other stakeholders, will be widely sought.
Angela Tang, general manager, external relations, Urban Renewal Authority
Drug tests no longer deter
The drug testing scheme in schools has been weakened by the revisions.
Students can now refuse to take the test.
The original scheme had measures which acted as a deterrent. Those measures have gone.
It was wrong to modify the drug test scheme and eliminate the role that police were supposed to play.
K. Lee, Ho Man Tin
Spread blame for finance crisis
Paul Serfaty's letter ('Blame Bush for the mess', September 15) is a partisan attack that ignores the facts, especially facts that counter Democrats' biased claims and cast their side in the same bad light. Blaming George W. Bush for all the mistakes is the same tired, old chant that Democrats have beaten to death, yet they self-servingly absolve themselves of playing any part in the global financial crisis. Both the Senate and House banking committees were headed by Democrats Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, respectively.
Where was their regulatory oversight when Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac were contributing to the housing bubble that collapsed, triggering the crisis by handing out loans left and right to people who couldn't afford mortgages? Oh that's right, they and Barack Obama were taking campaign contributions to kill any new Bush administration regulations aimed at better controlling the situation and spewing empty rhetoric for the cameras.
Mr Serfaty mentions Bill Clinton bequeathing Mr Bush a surplus, so let's hear from Mr Clinton himself: 'I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.'
Of course Mr Bush made mistakes and contributed to the mess, but let us not point fingers in pointless partisan bickering and accept that there is plenty of blame to spread around both parties for the financial disaster.
Jason Sylvester, Wan Chai
Resounding 'no' to path railings
Members of the traffic and transport committee of Central and Western District Council continue to discuss plans to erect railings on the hiking trail on Old Peak Road.
Such railings would be an eyesore and detract from the public's right to enjoy the natural environment as a peaceful respite from the urban concrete jungle.
Erecting railings is an irresponsible waste of public money. I have walked this trail and find it perfectly safe. I also believe that I and other users can be responsible for our own safety. Furthermore, I understand that there is no record of any accident on this trail for many years.
I am not alone in this. In the last public consultation, done by the district office, 96 per cent of respondents said no to railings. In addition, on January 18 the Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group polled people walking on the trail and found that 94.4 per cent of people also said no to railings. We do not want another walking trail to be fenced unnecessarily and I urge the district council to drop the proposal.
Steve Chamberlain, Clear Water Bay