PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am


Environment given short shrift in HK

Hong Kong has got a wonderful climate and short distances between the vibrant city and some beautiful areas of the SAR.

It is an inspiring mix of modernity and old culture, as well as different nationalities and cultures. It is a rich place to live in every sense. So I thought before moving here, as I had fond memories of living here before.

But bit by bit that picture cracks when living here, especially with children. I have had reminders that it is now part of a developing country which does not have a good record of taking great responsibility for its environment or its citizens.

I suppose that is the reason sustainability is not taken seriously in the corridors of power in Hong Kong, because lack of money is clearly not a problem.

As a Scandinavian, I was appalled by the answer I got when I returned some leftover medicine to a doctor for collection. I was told I should just screw on the cap and throw it in the bin, because there was no collection system for medication in Hong Kong.

The bottle contained antibiotics, further adding to the problem of resistant bacteria. I had the same experience with batteries. There are no recycling bins so they also end up in landfills.

This means more heavy metals will affect our soil, water sources and eco-systems.

In fact, the recycling system on the whole is close to non-existent for private individuals.

I don't know if there is a recycling network for industry and buildings sites, but it would not surprise me if there were no regulations in this area.

With this state of affairs, and given the high levels of consumption, how can Hong Kong ever achieve sustainability?

And why is it so hard to do what some countries and other cities have achieved with regard to regulating idling engines, road tolls to deal with heavy traffic in the city, and imposing rules on what fuel can be used for ships in the harbour?

I do not understand why nothing is being done.

The very short-term mentality that rules amongst the people in power in this city is going to turn Hong Kong into its own very unattractive backyard rubbish dump.

Mia Ejendal, Repulse Bay

New law will not help poor

The income gap between the rich and the poor is widening in Hong Kong. The low-skilled are condemned to work in low-wage jobs.

Unfortunately, I feel that the legislation introduced this month which imposes a statutory minimum wage will make it more difficult for some of them to find work.

Many will have to depend on CSSA payments. As a result, they will feel a sense of isolation from society.

I am concerned that some companies may lay off employees in order to reduce costs incurred because of the new law.

If this happens and the unemployment rate goes up, there will be fewer job opportunities for teenagers seeking work. This will lead to more social problems in Hong Kong.

The new law will lead to some firms raising the prices of their goods and services, which could fuel inflation.

When inflation levels increase, it becomes even more difficult for the people living in poverty to make ends meet.

It seems to me that the minimum wage law is a flawed piece of legislation.

It was designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor, but I do not think this will happen.

Cheung Yin-ting, Fanling

Wastage probe long overdue

I have been following with interest the flurry of letters criticising the Airport Authority for the shameful wastage of billions in taxpayers' money, including the construction of the white elephant which is Terminal 2.

Criticism of unchecked wastages surfaced again recently as the authority starts to build up momentum as it lobbies for a third runway, something that Hong Kong needs as much as it did Terminal 2.

I watch with interest because all this while the government has said nothing: especially the people who were responsible for spending billions on the useless structure.

A public inquiry, or at the very least a Legislative Council inquiry, should be held to see who is responsible for any waste of public expenditure.

Or is there a reluctance on the part of Legco to hold a probe, because there are lawmakers serving on the Airport Authority's board?

As a taxpayer, I hope the next chief executive will make it a point to look into the wastage of the authority.

I read last year on legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's website that she made inquiries about alleged wastage. I would be interested to know what she has been told by officials.

M. Lai, Mong Kok

Long-term solution needed

Given that the price of textbooks keeps increasing, it has been suggested that the problem of constant hikes could be solved by separating textbooks and teaching materials.

Far from being a solution, I think that this could create more problems.

If schools cannot get the teaching materials directly from publishers, they will have to pay for it. And that cost could be passed on to parents.

If this becomes the norm, it will impose a long-term financial burden on some families.

As an alternative to paying for the teaching materials, a school could decide to prepare its own material.

This responsibility would fall on the teachers and as a result they would face an increased workload.

If as a consequence teachers feel disillusioned with their jobs, the students are the ones who will ultimately suffer.

Separating teaching materials from textbooks is clearly not the best solution.

What is needed is for all concerned to arrive at a solution to this problem of rising textbook prices that will benefit schools in the long term.

Chilli Leung Tze-yin, Hung Hom

Bin Laden did not deserve trial

Amidst all the brouhaha over the killing and sea burial of Osama bin Laden, can someone tell me which other countries besides China and North Korea have monuments for their home-grown despots?

Do all the nay-sayers about this whole episode believe it would have been better to present bin Laden's corpse to his followers or to the land of his birth, Saudi Arabia, so shrines could have been built for that monster? Frankly, 'good riddance to bad rubbish' sums it up well.

Has everyone forgotten about the attacks in Nairobi, New York, Madrid, Bali, London and Mumbai?

The US will be condemned either way for what was a wise move of exterminating the demon and neatly disposing of him in the sea. Why are there so many people who think a vile creature like that deserved a fair trial? For Mark Peaker to say interrogating him would have given insights into his organisation's workings is irrelevant ('US was wrong to kill bin Laden', May 5).

Intelligence experts have long known bin Laden's sick mind was fixated on the injustice in Palestine and hatred for the West, so what else would have been new?

So now the world should worry about a backlash from bin Laden's rabid followers? It may come, since tit for tat is human nature, but surely a lesson has been learned.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Terror threat will stay with us

The death of Osama bin Laden does not herald the end of terrorism.

Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks in the US, but other members of al-Qaeda are still with us. They may well be planning revenge attacks.

Some people have actually questioned if bin Laden is really dead. We have still to see proof and have only the announcement from US President Barack Obama. As I said, the terrorists will not give up easily. They remain a threat, not just to America, but the rest of the world.

The US government must gather intelligence about al-Qaeda's future operations. And we must accept that there will be no swift resolution to this problem.

Phoebe Lau Pui-yan, Kowloon Bay

Course should not be one-sided

Some young Hongkongers still tend to view the country in a negative light. Changes to the curriculum will enable students to see the positive side ('Pupils to be taught to appreciate China', May 6).

Through studying Chinese culture and nationalism, the new curriculum can help pupils build up civic pride and thus enhance their national qualities. However, there is dark side of China.

Instead of just learning to appreciate the country, the new curriculum should also look at the things that Beijing has done wrong. We can learn from the good things, but also from the mistakes made by the motherland. Pupils should be able to form their own opinions.

Winnie Ng Wing-yan, Shun Lee

Legal backing

A number of your readers have been complaining of the Buildings Department's apparent lack of consistent enforcement actions against illegal structures in the New Territories.

They may be even more appalled to know that the discretion it exercises in taking enforcement action against New Territories' structures is enshrined in law in the Buildings Ordinance.

Of course, this right to enforce or not to enforce, as it sees fit, does not apply to illegal structures elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Stephen Brown, Tai Po