Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am

Fund health and schools, not runway

I hope honesty and common sense will prevail when the government decides on whether to go ahead with a third runway at the airport, amid many doubts about whether it is really needed.

There is a fear that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in the last days of his lame-duck administration, will make another hasty decision to build a monument for himself, just as he rushed into the Tamar project.

With the central government's wish for closer integration of the Pearl River Delta, we do not need the third runway.

Already, billions of dollars of our money is being spent on the most expensive railway project per kilometre in the world, to link Hong Kong to China's high-speed rail network, not to mention bridges to Macau and Zhuhai from here while there is another one being built from Shenzhen to Zhuhai.

Residents, especially those of us at Tung Chung, are suffering every day from the bad air caused by air traffic. We do not need a third runway, more air traffic or more pollution.

Except for maybe Guangzhou, the five airports in our vicinity are using only about 10 per cent of their capacity. They could do more.

Much of the cargo passing through Chek Lap Kok (which incidentally has begun to show falls) is hauled here by trucks from Shenzhen, causing yet more pollution on the roads. They should be put on planes in Shenzhen to be shipped to their destinations.

A third runway will see more trucks, more planes and much more pollution.

If people in the administration have any brains at all, they will see we do not need to spend more than HK$100 billion to benefit Hong Kong-based airlines and the airport business.

Instead of throwing away billions and giving HK$6,000 to people who do not need it, the money could be better spent building hospitals and schools, and helping those in need.

The needy and elderly who go to Hospital Authority clinics for their heart disease treatment are given generic drugs that have unpleasant side effects like coughing fits. If they want to stop that, they have to pay more.

Welcome to Asia's World City!

Lester Liu, Tung Chung

We need plan for mental wellness

It is laudable for the government, in the coming fiscal year, to commit HK$10 billion to assisting people in need to buy medicine, and to extend its coverage of its community-based case management programme for people with severe mental illness to four more districts.

As front-line workers providing confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, The Samaritans sees an acute need for the government to scale up resources to map out and to implement a sustainable public health policy.

Promoting mental health has not been given an appropriate priority in Hong Kong.

The referral time for a person in need to see a government psychiatrist ranges from 18 months to two years. However, the consultation time for each appointment may last just five to seven minutes.

A sustainable public health policy, which Hong Kong lacks, should focus on providing a comprehensive wellness intervention programme for people with mental illness and for their carers.

Equally important is supporting suicide prevention services targeting vulnerable and high-risk groups.

In developed countries and regions, attempted suicide can be up to 40 times more frequent than completed suicide.

For those attempting suicide, confidential emotional support is of vital importance alongside medical attention.

In Hong Kong, on average three people take their own lives every day. The Samaritans' volunteers attempt to save lives through our 24/7 hotline, however scarce the resources.

We hope there could be a multi-sectoral approach to suicide prevention, with the government more adequately assessing public health trends in the coming years.

It is also imperative for the government to recognise that promoting mental wellness is a key component of the overall public health system.

Liz Chamberlain, The Samaritans

Subsidy only encourages power use

A long time ago, the government said it would combat climate change and save energy.

Then, in last week's budget announcement, the government decided to give each of the city's households an annual electricity subsidy of HK$1,800 ('Taxpayers can look forward to lower bills', February 2).

I think the subsidy will make the problem of energy consumption even worse because it will encourage people to use more electricity than before. Because people won't need to think about the cost of power, they will use more and more energy, exacerbating climate change.

If we really want to solve this problem, we need to teach people the advantages of protecting the environment.

The government could also establish more sources of renewable energy such as solar panels.

Hong Kong uses a lot of energy, and the government and public need to work together to change the situation.

Chan Tsun-ho, Sha Tin

Kong does disservice to university

It's hard to believe that a Peking University professor would stoop to the level that Kong Qingdong did ('HK people labelled as dogs by mainlander', January 21).

The professor's diatribe against Hong Kong people as a whole was absolutely uncalled for and did nothing but denigrate Peking University, where he apparently works.

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai

Betrayed by China's UN veto on Syria

Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit.

This is the second time China and Russia have used their veto powers as permanent council members to block Western attempts to condemn the violence in Syria. Just like US ambassador Susan Rice, I am disgusted by the actions of China and Russia on this issue.

Despite desperate pleas for help from the people in Syria, the UN has fallen short of their expectations, and China and Russia are the main culprits.

As much as I love my country and am proud of being Chinese, I am angry, ashamed, and feel extremely guilty about the selfish decision made by the Chinese government. I feel betrayed by my country.

China and Russia do not deserve the right to be permanent members of the United Nations, if they can have such a negative impact on an issue so urgent as this.

The UN is not a playground for countries to put their personal interests before justice. Just look at the number of people being killed in Syria.

If China and Russia have the slightest bit of sympathy, they should call for a meeting in UN now and endorse the resolution.

Laura Ho Yuen-yung, Central

After Libya, no-vote is no surprise

If I'm not mistaken, the essence of democracy is a freedom to vote the way one believes, whether exercised by an individual or by a country. So surely the outpouring of venom by the United States, Britain, France and others on the UN Security Council against Russia and China - who simply exercised their right to vote as they saw fit against intervention in Syria - flies in the face of democratic principles.

The reaction of the US is particularly two-faced, as it routinely uses its veto to block anything that its ally Israel might not like.

It is also particularly distasteful to see the members practising 'megaphone politics' on the issue, denouncing dissenting voters instead of accepting that they didn't get the vote they needed.

China and Russia went along with the rest of the Security Council on Libya and then had to watch as Western governments overstepped their mandate to protect civilians. Is it surprising they are not so pliant this time?

The situation in Syria is not to anyone's liking, but the rest of the world drops to the same level if they ignore the democratic process enshrined in the highest body for world peace, the UN.

R. Rogers, Sai Kung