Crack down on vehicles, then vessels
Shipping firms ('Laws needed on ship pollution', June 19) say the government should require all vessels berthed in Hong Kong to switch to low-sulphur fuels and an emission-control area should be established covering the entire Pearl River Delta.
It was after a public consultation was launched on banning idling engines that the firms made the call about switching to low-sulphur fuels in an effort to improve air quality.
I agree it is urgent that we should try to improve air quality.
The Hong Kong government has undertaken different environmental measures in recent years that should help attract foreign investment and foreigners to Hong Kong, for example banning idling engines and providing subsidies for vehicles meeting Euro II emission standards to upgrade to Euro IV.
It would be consistent to require vessels to switch to low-sulphur fuels in a particular area.
However, we should consider how efficient the proposed measure would be in improving air quality.
During peak hours, thousands of vehicles on the roads produce tonnes of carbon dioxide (about 150 grams per kilometre per vehicle), and carbon emissions are concentrated in certain areas of the delta.
In order to improve air quality, I think we should assign resources to enforce the ban on idling engines first.
It is not convincing to argue that the government could implement a law covering the entire Pearl River Delta when it cannot handle the problem of illegal parking in a tiny area of Central during lunchtime.
Moreover, the proposed restrictions on vessels in Hong Kong might encourage them to go elsewhere.
In setting priorities to tackle the pollution problem, it is more important to control vehicles' emissions than those of vessels.
Keung Chan, Tai Po
Only natural to be happy at a break
I support our teachers in the face of the mother who was outraged when she heard teachers expressing pleasure in not having to teach that day ('Mum takes dim view of teachers,' June 19).
I have been a Hong Kong resident for 17 years and am the mother of three children, two of whom have graduated from Island School, with the third commencing Year 12.
I don't know if the mother works, but ask anyone who holds a job about the 'off-sites', training days and conferences that are a usual part of corporate life. If she were eavesdropping on the conversations of those attending these, as she eavesdropped on those teachers, she would hear most of them express the same sentiment: that it's good to break the routine and even monotony that comes from doing the same thing day after day.
This parent took a picture of these teachers and sent them to the English Schools Foundation.
The ESF teachers I know here are among the most dedicated and selfless teachers I have met, and most go above and beyond what is required of them contractually. If they expressed some pleasure in doing something outside their normal routine, they had every right to do so.
Christine Houston, Mid-Levels
Get tough on smokers who are violent
An increasing number of tobacco-control inspectors are being attacked by smokers caught puffing in banned areas ('Self-defence for tobacco officers', June 19).
It seems smokers are not afraid of the inspectors. Smokers think the inspectors are less strict and tough than police, and so show them disrespect.
The ban on smoking in indoor areas is intended to protect non-smokers' and other bystanders' health. But enforcement has not been effective enough, even though there are now harsher sentences and other penalties.
I disdain smokers who resort to violence.
Enforcement of the smoking ban has been transparent, so everyone should have known about it. The smokers caught smoking in banned areas should not blame anyone; they should do some self-reflection.
To effectively crack down on these smokers, the government should strengthen enforcement of the smoking ban not only by providing, as is planned, selfdefence classes for tobaccocontrol inspectors but also by providing additional police to carry out enforcement, and it should undertake more publicity about sentences and enforcement of the ban.
People who do not comply with the law or even use violence deserve harsher sentences.
Eleanor Wong, Hung Hom
Likeable panda good for China
In regard to the boycott of Kung Fu Panda 2 by Beijing-based artist Zhao Bandi ('Kung Fu panda too American for some', June 19) - grow up and get over it.
A likeable, kung-fu-practising panda with loyal and wise friends is a positive image for China - in contrast with its cheap copy of another country's historic village, a Unesco World Heritage site ('Just add Alps: Austrian village copied in Huizhou', June 19).
Since the early days of film, China has been a backdrop in numerous Hollywood films.
Yes, there have been villains, mainly the fat sidekick cook with his chopper.
But most Western movies have shown the Chinese as romantic, and Chinese monks as a fount of timeless wisdom.
There were such characters as the brilliant detective Charlie Chan, with his mysterious oriental insight.
Lost Horizon, in which the high lama was portrayed as having a peaceful demeanour, was highly influential.
For my generation, the Shaolin monks of the television series Kung Fu (1972-75) popularised martial arts and eastern philosophy in the West.
Confucius, after whom Beijing has named its new cultural institutes abroad, is known in the West largely as a great sage often quoted by the likes of Charlie Chan.
And who created that popular image? Western filmmakers.
For better or worse, China's image is one developed, packaged and sold by Hollywood.
As for Kung Fu Panda 2, I am looking forward to watching the clumsy antics of that loveable panda.
Stephen Anderson, Macau
Government needs new crystal ball
With all these predictions flying about regarding Hong Kong's future air traffic needs and a possible third runway. I keep wondering: what predictions did they make for Chek Lap Kok initially?
It opened only in 1998, so you'd think there would have been some forward planning so nothing else would need to be built for the next few decades.
But then again, the Hong Kong government hasn't got a very good track record in predicting the future. For example, it predicted a flood of mainland children into Hong Kong in the 1999 right-of-abode drama: it turned out to be a mere trickle.
The Central Policy Unit predicted the number of marchers on July 1, 2003, would be about 30,000 people: in fact 500,000 took to the streets. And that's not to mention the frequent dire predictions about huge budget deficits and the imminent collapse of the economy when there are billions sitting in the kitty.
We also have to wait for the predicted arrival of genuine universal suffrage in 2017, but I am not holding my breath.
I think it's about time Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and company got a new crystal ball.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Creeping graffiti an eyesore
On my arrival in Hong Kong almost 20 years ago from Europe, one of the unsavoury things that struck me immediately as I travelled into the city from the then Kai Tak airport was the amount of litter. Since then, however, as a result of the campaigns to clean up the image of Hong Kong, the place has become much more presentable.
Unfortunately, we now find a new, unattractive aspect to Hong Kong: the graffiti spreading throughout the city.
At first it appeared in discreet locations, such as nullahs and half-hidden bridge abutments. Now, these so-called artists are becoming much more brazen, displaying their wares in more public places.
This is nothing but vandalism and needs to be nipped in the bud before Hong Kong takes on the image of many inner-city areas in the West.
A government campaign similar to those against littering and smoking is urgently needed, with penalties and community service for offenders. Members of the public should be urged to help by reporting the culprits.
No doubt some will say the government is not providing sufficient outlets for these people to express themselves. But these perpetrators should find something more worthwhile to occupy their time.
Ray Partington, Hang Hau