PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2011, 12:00am


Laws cover cross-border waste disposal

In response to Michael Lewis's letter ('Draw up delta refuse strategy', April 5), it has been the general approach internationally for individual jurisdictions to properly treat and dispose of their waste at the place of generation. That is, each jurisdiction should have its own means to manage the waste it generates, including household waste.

Trans-boundary movement and disposal of waste collected from households in the international arena is subject to the Basel Convention, which requires the prior consent of the importing jurisdiction before the trans-boundary movement of waste can take effect.

China is a signatory to the Basel Convention, which is also applied to Hong Kong.

Both the mainland and Hong Kong authorities have implemented the Basel requirements through national and local legislation, respectively.

Under the national law of China, the import of any waste for disposal is prohibited. The prohibition applies to Hong Kong under the 'one country, two systems' structure.

On the Hong Kong side, export of household waste is subject to control of the Waste Disposal Ordinance, Cap. 354, which limits the control authority from permitting the export of such waste unless the importing jurisdiction gives consent.

In other words, under the existing laws of the mainland and Hong Kong, the export of household waste from Hong Kong to the mainland for disposal is not permitted.

That said, the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department has been exploring the possibilities for cross-boundary recycling of reusable materials with the Guangdong Environmental Protection Department under the purview of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Environmental Co-operation Agreement.

This is with a view to reducing the pressure on our limited landfill capacity and improving the resource utilisation of the Pearl River Delta region.

Dr Alain Lam, principal environmental protection officer (waste management policy), Environmental Protection Department

Caution behind radiation report

In reference to A. Wong's letter ('Observatory's lame excuse', April 5), concerning the Observatory's reporting of radiation data, the detection of trace substances in the atmosphere - such as radioactive iodine in this case - requires sampling of the air and measurement over a period of time.

As you reported ('Radioactivity test needed verifying, Observatory says', March 31), 'the lower the concentration the longer the time required'.

By the time the March 26-27 sample was measured on March 28, the Observatory faced two issues: the iodine measured was very small in quantity, bordering on the instrument's detection limit, and the real-time overall radiation level did not register any significant change.

To announce the arrival of artificial radioactivity in Hong Kong at that moment in time would not have been wise because of inherent uncertainties in the detection, while all along we were aware, and the public was well informed, that the concentration measured was too low to pose any health effect to the public.

Hence the re-checking to verify the measurement, and its subsequent release the next day, on March 29.

We are constantly aware of the need to inform the public early, but releasing information of which even we are not sure is not in the public interest.

The public can get the hour-by-hour information on the overall radiation levels in Hong Kong as well as the latest about artificial radioactivity measurements from the Observatory's website.

W.M. Ma, for director of the Hong Kong Observatory

Shark fin trade a threat to species

Charlie Lim ('Distinct lack of tolerance in shark fin debate', April 4) is still trying to make this issue one of cultural victimisation. His irrelevant analogy of fox hunting is his latest attempt to pretend this issue is an attack on China.

If this was about mistreatment of animals there would be no shortage of opportunities for criticism of China or many other countries, but this is not the issue.

The real point though is, no matter what your opinion of fox hunting, there is no evidence that it is a threat to the survival of either the species or the ecosystem that supports it. The same cannot be said for the shark fin trade.

I fully understand that the banning of shark fin would not stop the killing of sharks.

It would, however, massively decrease the number taken, (hopefully, to sustainable levels) and render redundant the cruel and unnecessary practice of finning.

This is an argument of economics versus environmental protection.

Kerry Hasell, Tai Hang

Ironic criticism of young critics

Elsie Tu's letters ('Young people being misled by power-hungry pan-democrats', April 5) increasingly sound like apologia for the central government when she talks about 'enemies of Beijing' and 'anti-China elements', in other words, the pan-democrats.

Perhaps she wants them to be arrested for 'inciting disorder' like tainted-milk activist Zhao Lianhai ?

For a person who championed corruption and colonial injustices in decades past, it is rather ironic that now she is using an authoritarian line of reasoning to criticise those who criticise the Hong Kong government.

Speaking out about the government is not 'revolution' and a few scuffles in the street is hardly 'violence'.

As for being power-hungry, perhaps the pan-democrats are a little starved - they are hungry because the system ensures that their voice is not truly heard in government despite being elected by the people in reasonable numbers.

Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po

A quota for all that ails us?

So the government is planning to ration the number of mainland mothers who are allowed to give birth in the city's private hospitals every year ('Cap on mainland births at all hospitals', April 7).

What happened to the other idea it was equally enthusiastic about not so long ago - turning Hong Kong into a medical tourism hub?

If the latter plan ever took off (unlikely, as Peter Kammerer explained in his column 'Ailing system', April 5) does it mean the government might also set quotas for the number of heart bypasses, hip replacements, cataract operations and other common medical procedures that hospitals will be permitted to perform?

It would make us the laughing stock of Asia - and not for the first time.

Ron Baker, Lantau

Shop protest missed its mark

The shopping jam protest in ParknShop against Li Ka-shing's 'property hegemony' ('Protesters say Li Ka-shing is city's real boss', April 9) caused little harm to the supermarket chain's owner but was a big problem for the public.

There might have been a slight drop in the supermarket's takings that day but the greatest inconvenience was to the shoppers and the cashiers.

Shoppers wasted their time waiting in queues and had to tolerate the protesters' nonsense. The cashiers were also required to be patient about the demonstrators' foolishness.

This action did not end up satisfying its real purpose and resulted in many critical comments online.

These activists did not consider the trouble brought to other shoppers and only infuriated them, discouraging the shoppers from supporting the action.

There are other methods to express discontent with policies instead of paralysing the operations of a supermarket and creating social disorder.

Mini Mok, Kwun Tong

Trying to make ends meet

The arrest of the elderly hawker is outrageous ('Angry crowd gathers as hawker arrested', April 11).

The old hawker is apparently simply trying to make ends meet by selling waffles rather than just relying on a social welfare cheque.

Instead of getting a pat on the back, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department busybodies constantly harass him by confiscating his cart and fining him.

In the meantime, the touts of 'copy watches' and pirated DVDs go scot-free, pestering people in areas like Tsim Sha Tsui. The only explanation for this sad state of affairs must be that these touts (or whoever hires them) must be greasing some palms for their illegal activities.

Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung

MPF choice is the right step

Employees will be allowed to choose their own pension providers from July next year under new regulatory details ('MPF choice put back to July 2012', March 29).

Given that the Mandatory Provident Fund makes provision for their retirement, employees should have the right to make choices about their future.

They may also have a better choice of pension providers.

The MPF fees will be lower because there will be more competition in the market, prompting pension providers to reduce their prices and improve service quality.

This will also advance economic development in Hong Kong and, as a result, benefit the wider community.

Natalie Wong Hoi-yi, To Kwa Wan