Worrying comments on bridge delays
I am tired of reading statements such as the one by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen who said that 'local construction work for the bridge was delayed by one year because of a judicial review' ('Work starts on delta bridge after legal delay', December 15).
A study of the dates of the judicial review and the subsequent appeal will show a spread of months and not a year, during which time there was no noticeable slowdown in work already committed.
And it is both worrying and amusing that Mr Tsang should take this as a whipping boy.
It is worrying in that he seems to be clearly saying that we should abandon due process on matters of deep concern (remember the court initially held the case against the environmental impact assessment to be proven) simply because it might lead to increased costs.
And it is amusing in that, had this occurred in the deflationary post-1997 period, he would have to thank the judicial review for reducing costs.
With some long experience in government matters, I think it highly likely - as has been stated elsewhere - that we will find a considerable delay within the government process which more than anything has caused this delay in proceeding with this ill-advised project.
Mr Tsang is evidently well schooled in the mainland approach to redirecting criticism away from where it belongs, and at the same time attempting to reduce recourse to the freedoms we have preserved to challenge our government.
Clive Noffke, Lantau
Incinerator will add to pollution
As visitors from Australia to Hong Kong, staying on lovely Cheung Chau island, we were dismayed to hear of the proposed Shek Kwu Chau mega-incinerator on reclaimed land among these beautiful and popular islands.
This is a highly inappropriate place for an incinerator.
It would be an ugly fit amongst these lovely islands, and it would greatly add to the notorious air pollution in the city.
This is our third visit to Hong Kong, which we like very much, but we sometimes suffer from asthma here due to the air pollution.
We are concerned that the proposed incinerator will accentuate respiratory problems for residents and tourists, and make the city a less appealing destination.
Hong Kong is forward looking in many ways.
Therefore, we find it surprising that sustainable ways of dealing with waste do not have precedence over an old-fashioned, expensive and polluting incinerator.
Many countries have adopted the three principles of reducing, reusing and recycling materials, such as paper, metals, plastic, timber, used cooking oil and lubricants, and also composting food and green waste and capturing methane for fuel.
This is a modern, advanced society that should be adopting sustainable ways of dealing with waste.
Nina and Brian Earl, Melbourne, Australia
Students can launch green initiatives
A World Health Organisation survey has found Hong Kong's air to be among the worst in more than 500 cities.
Even worse, only seven cities surveyed had higher pollution levels than Central.
It is not hard to notice the deteriorating quality of air in Hong Kong.
We all have to breathe it and it adversely affects our health. It is important citizens recognise this is a serious problem and students must recognise they have an important role to play.
We can develop green habits in our colleges, such as by using both sides of the paper, recycling wherever possible and conserving energy by sensible use of air conditioners.
Schools should organise talks which explain to pupils the serious consequences of air pollution. Students could also set up their own environment club.
All Hongkongers have a part to play to reduce pollution levels and make this city a more comfortable place to live in.
Viki Leung, Kowloon City
Upgrade plan for buses lacks funds
The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council has drafted new school-bus-safety regulations to try to improve school bus safety on the mainland.
One of the measures proposed is for school buses to be given priority for road access by traffic police and to be allowed to use lanes reserved for public transport.
Although the new proposals are aimed at protecting school pupils, I do not think the problems relating to bus safety will be solved.
The State Council calls for upgrades in vehicles ('Scandal of unsafe school buses', December 14), but in rural areas neither the schools nor the students' families can afford to buy new school buses.
The parents of these children are poor and they have to rely on the buses that exist to ferry them to school. It is the only way they can make the necessary trip.
Also, the local authorities in rural areas are unlikely to be able to help. Regional governments have to set priorities and they always focus first and foremost on economic development.
They will not allocate resources to purchase new vehicles. The State Council's draft guidelines said nothing about how its measures would be funded.
The central government should address this problem and provide financial help to those schools which need it so that they can purchase vehicles which are safe for the students to travel on.
I also think that Beijing should undertake to build more village schools.
This would mean that children would not have to travel so far. The educational level may be higher in institutions in the city, but poor pupils from agricultural districts cannot afford to attend them.
The school-bus-safety issue highlights the problems of poverty in rural areas of the mainland, a problem which Beijing should address.
Stefanie Tsui Yik-sze, To Kwa Wan
Not backing reticent candidate
I expect that our chief executive should have the necessary back-bone to be straight, steadfast and true, particularly in the face of media questions.
Henry Tang Ying-yen, as the minister responsible, was involved in the HarbourFest controversy and shuffled his stance when it came to taking political responsibility, which was contrary to the accounta- bility system.
From your report ('Riddle of liaison office visits', December 15), it now appears that Mr Tang is trying to sidestep simple questions of whether he visited the central government's liaison office. I cannot support a chief executive candidate who is so reticent and circumspect.
Justin Short, Repulse Bay