Incinerator is viable option for Hong Kong
I refer to the article by Edwin Lau Che-feng, director of Friends of the Earth ('Dealing with the source of the mess', March 7).
The location of a proposed incinerator has proved controversial after officials chose the island of Shek Kwu Chau, near south Lantau.
I think Hong Kong citizens have to give greater consideration to this issue.
No matter where the incinerator is located, it will affect nearby residents.
This would have been the case if officials had opted for the other site under consideration at Tuen Mun. Choosing a remote outlying island will lead to greater marine pollution. When it comes to dealing with environmental problems, there is no win-win situation. Sacrifices must be made.
Hongkongers should look at the example of Denmark, one of the world's most environmentally friendly countries.
It has 29 incinerators, some of which can be found in affluent communities.
Danes are willing to work together and co-operate with the government.
Taiwan plans to build more incinerators, with some near swimming pools, homes and even a children's playground.
Critics of these plants should appreciate that there has been a rapid improvement in incinerator technology and it is now safe and clean.
In Hong Kong, we can learn from examples from abroad. We can use the most sophisticated technology to ensure minimal emissions that are not harmful.
Hongkongers need to remember that we are the world's most wasteful society and by 2018 our landfills will have reached capacity.
Immediate action must be taken and there is no time for lengthy consultations.
Grace Luk, Hung Hom
Accents can cause confusion
I dare say the student at Peking University who commented on Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's Putonghua was either being parochial or simply cocky ('Could do better, Donald - that goes for all of us', March 8).
Anyone who has travelled around China knows that not too many Chinese speak the 'Beijing tongue'.
Tell the student to go to Chongqing or Wuhan . I bet he will meet a lot of people there who speak Putonghua with such a heavy accent that he would hope to be able to communicate in English.
Putonghua has become Putonghua from a Beijing dialect because of a decision of the central government.
If Cantonese had been chosen as the national tongue (for argument's sake), I am sure equally many people would find it difficult to manage.
Even English, another widely spoken language, is spoken with many tonal inflections that baffle native speakers.
Wilkie Wong, Pok Fu Lam
Language a tool for Han Chinese
I refer to the report ('Could do better, Donald - that goes for all of us', March 8).
I feel that the reaction to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's standard of Putonghua by his Peking University audience is typical of the attitude of so-called educated Han Chinese.
There seems to be a perception among them that Putonghua is spoken fluently throughout the mainland and revered by the entire populace. This is not actually the case.
I suspect that a competent foreign student of Putonghua would have less trouble understanding Donald Tsang's Mandarin than he or she would understanding the Putonghua of a native of Beijing. Not only is Putonghua spoken in a variety of regional accents (much like English in Britain), in many parts of China it is hardly spoken at all.
The Han Chinese use Putonghua as one of their tools for committing acts of cultural genocide against ethnic minorities to whom it is as much a foreign language as Vietnamese or Cantonese. The latter is the native language of the Hong Kong SAR so mainland visitors should learn to live with it just as they should learn to live with the various Tibetan and Uygur dialects.
Our chief executive does not need to apologise for having made the effort to speak a foreign language. Perhaps his Peking University audience might understand this when they are eventually given the opportunity to learn openly about the world they live in rather than simply digesting the propaganda that they are fed.
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung
Impose tax on milk powder
Because of the tainted milk powder scandal on the mainland, many people are coming over the border to buy milk supplies here. This has led to some Hong Kong mothers finding it difficult to get enough milk formula.
The government can help by imposing a cross-border tax on this product.
If this was introduced, fewer mainlanders would come to the city to buy milk powder.
The SAR government should see Hong Kong citizens as its priority.
Local mothers must be able to get sufficient supplies of milk formula for their babies.
Angel Cheung Cheuk-man, Lam Tin
Probe burst water pipes
There have been problems with burst water pipes, some of them in busy urban areas such as Causeway Bay and Wan Chai ('Burst water main paralyses business in busy districts', March2).
Of course, pipes can burst in any location, but it would appear that the government has to take a closer look at these incidents rather than just making the necessary repairs.
It may be necessary for the relevant government departments to undertake more regular checks of the water pipe network in the city. If there is a problem, then immediate steps should be taken to solve it.
Too many incidents of this kind can be damaging to the reputation of Hong Kong.
Venus Lo Wing-ka, Tai Kok Tsui
Long period of disruption
I note with dismay that the long-disputed roadworks on Hiram's Highway at Marina Cove and Ho Chung are soon to commence.
It seems as if we are to have three years of disruption to create a four-lane section of just one kilometre before that road again narrows to two lanes north of Hing Keng Shek.
Residents of Hing Keng Shek, where I live, are due to have a roundabout created at the junction of the village road with Hiram's Highway.
I hope that the Highways Department works more competently and quickly than it has done on Hing Keng Shek's own roadworks.
Since January 2010, the department has been working to improve a 100-metre section of sloping road leading into the village.
Originally due for completion on December 31, that has now been pushed back to April 30, after one third of the new road laid last year was ripped up and replaced because it had been done incorrectly.
I now work from home and can comfortably estimate that we see workers on this road only one or two days a week, leaving me wondering if the work will be completed within the revised schedule. Our roadworks are so old that they are enshrined on Google maps.
The department has proved hopelessly inept in completing this work in an efficient and timely fashion.
Here's hoping it proves rather better on the more challenging work to be done on Hiram's Highway.
Fiona Somerville, Hing Keng Shek
Read contracts very carefully
The police investigation of an alleged slimming scam has highlighted a growing trend in our society.
More people, especially women, are joining weight-losing packages offered by slimming firms.
People have to take care when signing any contracts for slimming programmes.
They must fully understand what is stated in the contract. If they suspect any irregularities, they should ask the company.
If they are still not satisfied, they should approach the Consumer Council.
People do care a lot about their appearance, but they should not be too demanding of themselves.
It is more important to have a healthy body than to look beautiful. People can keep fit by exercising and having a proper diet.
Karen Choy, Tsuen Wan
Appalling attack on police officer
Many readers will have been as horrified as I was to see the picture of a Greek riot policeman, with his head engulfed in flames ('Rioters hurl firebombs as rally turns ugly', February 24).
That ghastly incident, and many others like it, occurred as part of the demonstrations in central Athens against the economic belt-tightening measures forced upon the Greek government by its own mishandling of the economy.
Many aspects of modern life in Greece are in dire need of improvement.
That policeman was at the receiving end of a petrol bomb, thrown at him by a protester.
What did the protester hope to achieve by an act of such wanton violence against the enforcers of that country's laws?
It may be hoped that future anti-government demonstrators in Greece can contain their outrage within civilised limits. They should avoid these violent attacks on their own police officers, who are only doing their best, in very dangerous circumstances, to keep the peace in the streets of Athens: the erstwhile birthplace of democracy.
Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels