PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 January, 2011, 12:00am

Incinerator will not solve our waste problems

The two proposed waste incinerators will add to Hong Kong's infamous reputation for bad air quality.

Incinerating solid waste generates large volumes of flue gases.

The gases carry residues from incomplete combustion and a wide range of pollutants - ash, heavy metals and a variety of organic and inorganic compounds.

The pollutants will be even more hazardous if Hong Kong does not separate the waste before incineration and incinerates bulky waste, electronic and other toxic waste. Experience in Europe and the US has proven that treating/removing these emissions has aroused public concern and has escalated the (already huge) investment costs.

In 1997 the government closed the Kwai Chung incineration plant in the interests of public health. The site was found to be contaminated with dioxin, furan, asbestos, heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbon.

Why is our government now proposing incinerators rather than tackling the root cause of waste and setting a sustainable policy for 'Asia's world city'? Hong Kong is shamed by its black records in both waste management and air quality. The public wants to see plans to improve both. These are basic civic provisions in most countries.

We are losing business and brains to cleaner competitor cities.

Is Hong Kong's government oblivious or simply incompetent?

Julia Brown, Lantau

Child's needs must come first

There has been much debate in the media of late regarding education.

So, it was with interest that I read Amy Chua's article [in the Wall Street Journal] highlighting the superiority of Chinese mothers over their Western counterparts and the outcry that followed. Each society uses education to develop its citizens. Western societies' education systems are designed to develop a more rounded citizen whose strength lies in individuality.

These systems have as their cornerstone the ideas of the ancient Greeks, who believed in debate, reason and leadership.

The education system of other societies, particularly Eastern culture, is based on the Confucian system.

Asian societies teach values such as hard work and conformity. Ms Chua's article may have touched a raw nerve because of the weakening of Western society and the perceived rise of Asia.

If so, that is sad but irrelevant as the rise of Asia is related more to management and worker utilisation.

The reality is parents should be allowed to bring their children up in what they see as the best way for the child.

Our systems of education should be based around children and ensuring they feel self-worth in the society in which they live. It is irrelevant whether it is Eastern or Western culture when it comes down to the egos of competing mothers.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Tiger mothers dominate in HK

I refer to the letter by Anthony Chan on 'Tiger mother' Amy Chua ('Girls' stolen childhood', January 15).

Mr Chan pinpoints the difference between a person's character and skills. Amy Chua is obviously confused by the two, therefore blurring the line in her pursuit of trying to bring up, implicitly, superhumans.

Look around, tiger mothers do dominate in Hong Kong in frightening proportions. Is this a cultural thing? I believe it is.

Do we want children in our society to be super achievers only in academic subjects and music (sorry, violin or piano only according to Ms Chua's recipe), and nothing else?

So many supreme yet essential human qualities are not being mentioned in the Chua concoction, ingredients that will make citizens stand tall in the global community, a culture with colourful and refined characteristics, with people who care and love.

Sorry, I would rather have my children turn out to be all-round individuals than some robots who excel in school subjects, play solo violin and make seven-digit incomes but have essentially nothing to do with neighbours or the rest of world because they simply don't care.

Global/regional leaders are in short supply; folk with self-importance and narrow motives are plentiful in our society.

Philip Leung, Pok Fu Lam

Spotlight on going green

I do agree with Pang chi-ming that more energy can be saved in public areas ('Time to switch to energy saving', January 14).

This requires greater effort on the part of citizens and businesses.

There are things Hong Kong people can do, such as turning off electrical appliances when they are not in use and switching to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Companies often put adverts on large billboards on the external walls of buildings. They have a lot of powerful spotlights which are switched on all the time, even after midnight. This is a terrible waste of electricity.

By simply using fewer spotlights and switching them off outside business hours, companies can make savings.

We all have to contribute if we want to create a greener world.

Kwong Shu-chung, Ho Man Tin

No excuse for dog cruelty

When I read about the poisoning of pets on Bowen Road, it struck me that these were very cruel acts.

I am not a great animal lover, but I can see no justification in depriving these pets of their right to life.

They are defenceless animals and I hope the authorities will find who is behind the poisoning.

Also, people should always think carefully before opting to purchase a pet.

They have to realise that the decision they make has been made for life.

Phoebe Ho Sze-wing, To Kwa Wan

We avoided a costly mistake

I am glad that the Legislative Council rejected the proposal to bid for the 2023 Asian Games.

Supporters claimed that if we had hosted the Games it would have attracted a lot of tourists with money to spend, but I think these estimates were over-optimistic.

The Games would have required a huge investment and if visitor estimates had fallen short we would have sustained substantial financial losses.

One of the most effective ways to promote sport is to hold more free training courses for the public.

There is no evidence of a link between watching sporting events and taking part. Millions of people watch soccer matches, but not everyone plays the game on a regular basis.

The Hong Kong team won the soccer gold in the East Asian Games, but there was no sudden increase in the number of people taking part in the game.

I wish our government spent taxpayers' money more wisely.

Li Kai-ching, To Kwa Wan

New rule reins in developers

The new Buildings Department rule requiring proof that developers control the ownership of land forming the site was long overdue ('Developers may struggle to get plans approved', January 12).

The previous position where developers could obtain building plan approval on land that they did not own was bizarre, and was grossly unfair to the actual landowners who normally were never even informed that such development plans had been submitted.

The result of such approvals effectively created monopoly situations where the owners could in reality only sell to the party holding the approved redevelopment plans.

Approved building plans also sterilise sites from any subsequent decisions by the Town Planning Board, even though the developer's planning permission may have expired, as was the case with the controversial 'mega-tower' in Wan Chai.

The cards have been stacked in favour of major property developers for far too long, and it is correct that new rules add balance for the property rights of others and for the interests of the general public.

Christian Rogers, Wan Chai

Women have fair deal in city

The Women's Commission has looked at the attitudes people have regarding gender inequality.

As I am only a secondary school student, I do not know the model definition of equality because everyone has their own interpretation.

I define it as individuals having the right to do whatever they like, as long as their behaviour is legal and does not do any harm to others.

In fact, Hong Kong is an equality-based society and people are not complacent about the issue of gender inequality.

All Hong Kong permanent residents over the age of 18 can vote regardless of gender. It is apparent that Hong Kong exercises democracy and treats everyone in the same way. Therefore, I do not believe you can say that gender inequality exists here.

There are many large firms and government departments with women in charge. Take Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, for example. This shows that men are no longer dominant in different walks of life and employers are not showing bias against women when it comes to hiring personnel.

While I do believe that gender equality exists in Hong Kong, we should not be complacent and think this situation cannot change. But we should treasure what we already have.

Jessie Lam Yuen-man, Tsing Yi