PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 October, 2010, 12:00am

Modern cleaning equipment could do the job at Shek O Beach

It was disappointing to see the photo of the litter on Shek O Beach ('Unruly dogs, untidy visitors make popular beach Shek O's shame', October 17).

I am amazed that Hong Kong, being a world-leading city, does not invest in modern cleaning equipment. There are beach cleaners that can pick up the litter quickly and efficiently. These can be towed behind a tractor and could be used daily by one person to clean the whole of the beach in a few hours.

It is also a similar story in the cleaning of paved areas in the city, with barrels of water, small pressure washers, splash guards and several people for the simple task of cleaning a flat surface.

Modern equipment provides a cheaper solution as well as being faster and it is also cleaner.

Cities in the US and Europe were employing pavement washing machines 30 to 40 years ago. Why does Hong Kong lag so far behind?

The government may put forward the argument that by doing it manually it is providing jobs. The people who put forward this case have obviously never picked up litter on a beach in the heat or swept up for several hours a day.

It is hard, tiring work and I see that it is predominantly old people employed in these tasks.

The people who employ the old people should spend just one day cleaning the streets or the beach and then they would realise it is not ennobling.

The money saved by modernising the tasks could go into the budget to provide social security for those in need.

Michael Jenkins, Central

Law without God does not prohibit justice

Paul Kokoski perpetrates an elementary logical error in mixing up atheism and selfishness ('Atheism is just a recipe for selfishness, power', October 17).

Just because the Christian faith is included in the set of religious beliefs that value hope and the transcendent, he thinks atheism cannot embrace such principles.

If he were to apply the Christian principle of humility to his efforts to understand others, he would learn that one might be a humanist, a Buddhist, or simply a rational and civilised person and believe the world offered hope and developed according to a broadly progressive and positive pattern, without needing to believe in God.

It is really rather arrogant of him to look into my soul (or that of the 90 per cent of Chinese who are not religious in the theist sense) and declare that 'a world that creates its own justice through human reason alone is a world without hope'.

A world without hope might better be described as one in which the religious insist that science must cede to faith where the two conflict (think medieval Europe, or fundamentalist Islam, or fundamentalist Christianity today).

Progress in the material sense is not just about money, but about health, and knowledge, and literacy and the ability to look after those one loves better, as the scope for human opportunity grows.

Science or law without God does not prohibit hope or justice. But God without science, and certain faith-based legal systems, condemns the world to ignorance and poverty.

I know which I would choose, if I had to; but the choice is a false one, on both sides of the equation. Atheism does permit hope, and the godly can be brilliant scientists.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Four gospels written long after the events

How does Paul Kokoski ('Atheism is just a recipe for selfishness, power', October 17) begin to justify such an extraordinary claim? How many atheists does he know? How many Christians does he know? Are all those atheists selfish and power seeking? And are none of those Christians?

Does Christopher Hitchens have a history of seeking power? No. Does Tony Blair? Yes. Christians base their beliefs on the four gospels of the New Testament, all written long after the events by men who never knew Christ, and selected from a possible 12. Why were the other eight rejected?

According to Mr Kokoski, 'Religious faith understands that something else - which we do not see - is true because we accept the testimony of someone who saw.' And he calls atheists presumptuous. He goes on (and on): 'Atheism is essentially a materialistic ideology...a recipe for consumerism, selfishness, power and pleasure seeking'.

To me that sounds remarkably like the higher echelons of organised religion.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Commonwealth chief's quiet diplomacy works

I refer to the report ('54-nation club driven by discord over human rights', October 10).

The Commonwealth secretariat and its secretary general (Kamalesh Sharma), with his senior staff, would only alienate and antagonise Commonwealth governments and leaders by publicly denouncing their abuses of human rights and contraventions of Commonwealth principles. International associations like the Commonwealth should not seek public awareness and publicity by washing their dirty linen in public.

Quiet behind-the-scenes diplomacy has usually been the most effective means to resolve conflicts and to discipline those that violate humanitarian values.

Haranguing wayward governments in the international media will only serve to drive them further away from the Commonwealth family and possibly encourage further abuses. Over the past 60 years the Commonwealth has been successful in promoting good governance and in conflict resolution, so why is it being the subject of such vitriolic criticism today? If it ain't broke, which it definitely isn't, why fix it? Carry on, Mr Sharma, with your quiet diplomacy.

Robert Newell, director general, Royal Over-Seas League, London

Teens misbehave on buses and trains

I am concerned about the behaviour of some teenagers on public transport.

Like many Hong Kong citizens I use public transport a lot and I want to enjoy a quiet environment. However, I often find teenagers chatting loudly and sometimes using foul language.

In MTR stations I often see teenagers standing on the platform and rushing onto the train just before the doors close. This is a dangerous practice and someone could get injured. I have also seen some young people running through the train and sitting on the floor of the carriage.

Schools should educate their students to behave themselves when travelling on different forms of public transport.

Godwin Lo, Kwai Chung

Little emperors

Some parents can be overprotective and treat their children like little emperors. They become irresponsible and unable to control their emotions.

When they grow up they may develop a poor work ethic and this could impede their progress in their careers.

Parents need to realise this is not the way to treat their children. They need to help them develop life skills that will enable them to grow up to become independent and interact successfully in society and in a very competitive environment. Parents could even consider sending their children to boarding school.

Thomas Lam, Sha Tin