Additional cost not mentioned
In his letter ('Incinerator will meet the world's most stringent green operating standards', April 10) Elvis W. K. Au of the Environmental Protection Department fails to mention the additional cost of more than HK$8 billion that taxpayers will have to fund to extend the existing landfill sites.
This additional cost arises because the construction at the Shek Kwu Chau location will not be completed until two years after the landfill sites are filled.
It appears to be deliberately disingenuous of the department not to mention this and typical of its misuse of information in forcing through this incinerator.
Mr Au also fails to mention anything about the construction at Shek Kwu Chau causing irreversible damage to the environment and loss of habitats for native species. So much for 'protecting' the environment.
If there must be an incinerator, and that case is far from proven, then the obvious location is at Tsang Tsui. Appropriate infrastructure already exists, the cost of construction is much less, the facility can be operational two years ahead of the other location, and little or no additional environmental damage would be caused.
The 'balanced spatial distribution' given as a reason for the department insisting on the Shek Kwu Chau location is a fabrication to force through the issue.
Hong Kong deserves better than this, and we should all be asking for more honesty and clarity on the issue to help Legco's Finance Committee to reject the proposal when it votes on it next month.
Michael Pratt, Lantau
Reclamation is no longer best solution
Government representatives and the relevant professional and some academic bodies have talked enthusiastically about the benefits of proposed reclamation projects.
Their primary focus appears to be on reclamation at the cost of other options put forward by the public.
I wonder if they will ever really look at the other ideas.
I am concerned about the obvious negative effects of reclamation. It will lead to a shrinkage of our natural coastal areas and have a detrimental effect on marine ecosystems. This will result in reduced marine biodiversity in Hong Kong.
Our natural habitats are collectively a treasure. We should try our best to protect rather than destroy them.
The government needs to explore in depth the other options that have been put forward; for example, rock cavern development.
Building facilities underground is an innovative idea, but it has been done successfully in Finland.
If large areas of Hong Kong could be used for this purpose, it would greatly increase the available land area on the surface.
Also, there would be no pollution issues to consider.
There has to be genuine communication between the administration and citizens if officials want us to have faith in our government. Public opinion has to be recognised as important when formulating policies.
I know that in the past reclamation was seen as the solution in Hong Kong, but times change, and there have been developments in technology.
I hope officials will find a better way to deal with our shortage of land.
Lui Sheung-yin, Tseung Kwan O
Hill fires threaten graves, too
This year's Ching Ming grave-sweeping festival was anything but pure and bright ('58 hill fires reported, mainly in the New Territories', April 5). One of these fires destroyed a swathe of vegetation on the former Castle Peak firing range in Tuen Mun.
This upland area contributes to Hong Kong's biodiversity and is home to many species of plants, animals and birds.
The hillsides are now at risk from erosion and landslides, ironically threatening the graves themselves with destruction.
Firefighters' lives are put at risk, ecosystems damaged or destroyed and landscapes blackened and scarred. Would our ancestors thank us for this?
Under the Forests and Countryside Ordinance, the negligent use of fire in the countryside attracts a penalty of HK$25,000 and one year's imprisonment.
If deterrence and education fail to stop the twice-yearly ritual of hill fires, other measures must be considered.
The use of sensors and video surveillance in certain areas might help with detection and the bringing of prosecutions.
The benefits would almost certainly exceed the costs.
Andrew Sewell, Tuen Mun
Science and morality are intertwined
I refer to the article in Lifestyle ('Robotopia calling', April 6).
I read a statement in the story by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of Osaka University's Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, with a great sense of bewilderment. He said, 'As a scientist, my job is to create new things, not to think about morality.'
There is something somewhat worrying about a scientist completely unconcerned with ethics.
The relationship of science and morality is extensive, commonly rehashed examples being cloning, stem cell research, genetically modified crops, the recent scientific recommendations to reduce the use of nicotinoids, not to mention the ethics of academic honesty, among others.
For a scientist, particularly one at the forefront of his field like Ishiguro, to dismiss the moral implications of his findings is naive, if not irresponsible.
Elizabeth Berry, Pok Fu Lam
Let tycoons not demean new chief
The world sees, with dismay, the US 'tea party' movement doing its best to destroy the country's president, even at the expense of the majority.
We can only hope that our own T-party (T for tycoons) will not emulate it, now that the choice of our chief executive has been made.
S. P. Li, Lantau
Take action to narrow income gap
Although economic growth has been sustained in the last few years in Hong Kong, the widening wealth gap continues to be a source of social discontent.
In his final policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen introduced measures aimed at helping low-income families improve their living standards, but they will not narrow the divide between rich and poor.
All residents aspire to have a good job and a decent home.
Although the government has a public housing building programme, this has had only limited success, as many people still live in cage homes and subdivided flats because they have no choice.
Also, many people, including fresh graduates, find they cannot get a job. This is another area where the administration needs to do more.
In the budget in February, there was a cut in salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2011-12 by 75 per cent [subject to a ceiling of HK$12,000]. This means people on high or low incomes will pay less tax.
However, I believe that citizens on high income levels should be paying a higher tax rate, so as to decrease the wealth gap.
Hong Kong should not just focus on its role as an international financial centre.
The government has to be concerned about Hongkongers from all sectors of society, and it must take action to reduce the income gap.
Suki Tong Shuk-wun, Tseung Kwan O
Top officials must be clean and listen
I refer to the report ('Wen warns Leung to keep government clean', April 11) and the advice given by Premier Wen Jiabao to chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying.
It is important that the government is kept clean and that all our officials appreciate that they are working not for themselves but for all Hong Kong citizens.
Corruption must be kept at bay so the administration can deal effectively with the problems the city faces, such as unauthorised building works, insufficient housing and mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong.
Mr Leung must give very serious thought to whom he chooses as his most senior officials. He needs people who will take account of public opinion.
That goes also for the chief executive himself. He must do more to gain people's support.
I hope that we will see Hong Kong develop and move forward under Mr Leung.
Xavier Chong, Tsuen Wan