PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am

Hongkongers must do more to protect planet

The letters page on March 22 covered topics including the horrors of shark finning, the unwelcome development proposal for Lamma, the apparent need for a new runway and the impending incinerator, among others.

The message I receive loud and clear is the extent to which the public of Hong Kong seem so ill informed, ignorant and asleep to the wider picture.

A Cree Indian prophecy says, 'Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.'

Hong Kong has been my home for 12 years. I am more than aware of its money-making priorities, but that does not negate the fact that we are still a population living and working in a part of the only planet we have.

It is time to shift our collective awareness and consciousness to take action so that we ensure we don't all wake up one day with deep regret at the loss of our home when it is too late.

The planet is not a resource, it is finite. The oceans the sky and the land are in a desperate almost irreversible state of collapse. It is time to take action to prevent further catastrophe.

I urge Hong Kong to wake up, get informed and prove it is Asia's world city in every sense of meaning.

Katy Cozens, Lantau

DNA testing for shark fins

It is excellent news that Charlie Lim and the Marine Products Association (HK) wish to improve the sustainability of the shark-fishing industry ('Campaign hype doesn't help', March 19).

I would suggest two simple strategies which, if adopted by the association, would improve the sustainability of the industry and establish its credentials as caring about the environment.

Firstly, the association should endorse and strive towards the outlawing of the practice of fishing boats landing shark fins without the carcasses. The fins would be detached on land and we would see the end of the wasteful practice of finning at sea and throwing away the carcasses. If, as Mr Lim suggests, the shark fin industry is merely a by-product of the shark meat industry, this should not present a problem.

Secondly, the association could set up an independent body to randomly test specimens of shark fins from wholesalers and retailers in Hong Kong and subject them to simple and inexpensive DNA testing. In this way, they could eliminate the suspicion that fins from the Cites [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] Appendix 1 species (Whale, Basking and Great White) are traded in Hong Kong.

If the industry wishes to become sustainable, the 177 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List should also be tested for, and severe sanctions taken against firms which trade in endangered shark species.

Furthermore, DNA testing would also show up the presence of dolphin or ray fins masquerading as shark fin. We look forward to Mr Lim's reply.

Nicola Newbery, chair, Friends of Hoi Ha

Have varied runway times

Some of your correspondents have made their opinions known regarding the need to build a third runway at Chek Lap Kok airport.

I am open to the idea, as nobody can say whether we will need the extra capacity in the future, or whether it will be underused due to rising fuel costs and average Hongkongers not being able to afford to fly.

If the new runway is built, and to mitigate noise disturbance for Tung Chung residents, I propose the third or northern-most runway be the primary runway for all flight movements from 10pm to 7am the next day.

The southern-most runway should be used only in emergencies.

At the same time the perimeter road should be connected up so that cyclists are able to go all the way around the site.

Craig Sanderson, Tung Chung

Be responsible internet users

Regular computer users go online to download entertainment and acquire information.

While it is a very convenient way of doing these things, there are drawbacks.

People may put too much information on the internet and, for some youngsters, this can have negative consequences such as cyber bullying.

I am also concerned about the fact that some internet users breach copyright with regard to original material.

This may act as a block to creativity as individuals wonder if there is any point in coming up with original material that some computer users download for free.

We have to take great care when using the internet and act in a responsible manner.

Lau On-tik, Fanling

Negative side to e-learning

It is now a growing trend for e-learning to be adopted for most subjects in schools throughout Hong Kong.

Although it is convenient to bring a laptop computer to school, I do not think it is good for students to be looking at the screen all day.

This can lead to some of them suffering from eye conditions, such as myopia, or short-sightedness, and they will have to wear glasses.

The time they spend on the computer each school day should be limited so that they do not develop these eye problems.

Also, there are distractions online such as Facebook and some pupils may spend their time in class surfing the net rather than concentrating on their studies.

Also, laptops are not cheap and some students from low-income families cannot afford to buy one.

Schools will have to allocate a lot of money to provide subsidies.

I do not think schools should adopt e-learning in the classroom.

Stefanie Tsui Yik-sze, To Kwa Wan

Citizens willing to help out

Hong Kong people have been criticised for becoming more aloof and less neighbourly.

On the MTR, they concentrate on looking at their mobiles or playing computer games. It is said there is a lack of affinity with the community around them, that the spirit we saw in the 1980s is lacking.

Even in poor areas people have become more aloof and do not communicate with each other.

You do not know who lives above you and you do not ask after your neighbours' welfare if you meet them in the lift. There seems to be a pervasive apathy.

I used to agree with such views, but the reaction to the disastrous tsunami in Japan has changed my opinion.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy from Hong Kong people. On March 18, crowds gathered outside Starbucks outlets to buy a cup of coffee as the company was donating all its takings between 3pm and 5pm to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami appeal.

Hong Kong people will give a helping hand to people at times of adversity, no matter where they come from.

I think Hongkongers do have sympathetic hearts, but many are shy and have difficulty showing their feelings. I suggest that the government implements more civic education.

Posey Wong Po-yin , Wong Tai Sin

Protests must be peaceful

I respect and support totally people's right to express their opinions in the hope of a better and fairer society, but only in a civilised, legal and peaceful way.

There are many ways in which people here can express their views so they have no need to resort to violence.

Not only does this harm the reputation of Hong Kong, but it damages the stability of our society, which is maintained by our laws and those who uphold them.

Violent acts may hurt passers-by and police officers on duty, as well as obstruct the economic and social activities of people.

It is selfish for protesters to think only of their own opinions and not think about the disruption they are causing to other citizens.

We enjoy a calm and peaceful way of life in Hong Kong and we do not want to see it disrupted by the selfish and inconsiderate acts of violent protesters. They should adopt recognised channels, such as using the media.

Activists involved in protests must always consider the consequences of their actions.

Sunny Hor Tsz-ching, Siu Lam

Put cleaner fuel in filthy ferries

I refer to the letter of Thomas Won ('Discovery Bay ferries often late', March 21).

I cannot complain about the punctuality of the Discovery Bay ferries; in fact, the schedules are very well kept. Delays must be an exception to the rule. However, I must complain about the serious nuisance of air pollution created by these vessels.

Strong smells of the heavy diesel fuel are polluting the air not only at the berths but also around Discovery Bay's designated 'recreational areas', along the promenade waterfront, open-air restaurants, the beach and the adjoining houses.

The ferries should make use of low-emission, cleaner fuel. The environmental pollution is serious. The Environmental Protection Department is by no means helpful, just referring to the Marine Department Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance Cap. 548 without even offering any pro-active support to improving the situation.

It is high time Hong Kong reduced the emissions from marine vessels; experts state that they contribute heavily to the overall air pollution.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay