PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am


Cheung Chau residents will be affected

I refer to the letter by Elvis W.K. Au, of the Environmental Protection Department ('Incinerator will meet the world's most stringent green operating standards', April 10).

It is tiresome to have to read the department yet again trying to justify its irrational decision to build a giant incinerator in the heart of Islands district.

First comes the bizarre statement that 'a more balanced spatial distribution' is achieved by locating this project at Shek Kwu Chau, instead of at the obvious brownfield site. The idea is that since places in the west, north and east of the SAR have now been trashed, it is only 'fair' to trash the south as well. Apart from the violation of common-sense planning practices this implies, readers should be aware that the department is planning a second giant incinerator at Tsang Tsui ash lagoons anyway. It is marked on a map presented to Legco's environmental panel.

Mr Au says the Shek Kwu Chau site is nearer to Victoria Harbour's waste transfer stations. This is not true if you take into account the shipment of the 30 per cent of highly toxic residue of incineration back to the landfill at Tsang Tsui.

He also claims Shek Kwu Chau is more acceptable because it is 'downwind' of the Cheung Chau population of 30,000. The statement is equally true for the Tsang Tsui location. When the wind is blowing in the opposite direction (at least 25 per cent of the time) Cheung Chau will be affected whereas there are shielding mountains at Tsang Tsui. Also, if the incinerator is as green as officials claim, what does wind direction matter?

The unacceptable aspect of the incinerator controversy is that attention has been distracted from the department's failure to implement the waste management strategy originally drawn up in 2005, with its emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. The amount of waste generated in Hong Kong is still rising and there are virtually no separation and recycling facilities available to households.

The claim that the SAR recycles 52 per cent of municipal solid waste is misleading. Firms export waste to the mainland for recycling. We believe that the percentage of government-collected waste that is recycled is in reality still very small. Changing this should be the department's priority, not another expensive vanity project.

John Schofield, Living Islands Movement

Only builder can live in village house

The 'right' to village houses should be abolished.

Until that day arrives, the regulations should be changed. They should state that, if applicable, a village house can be built but must be lived in by the builder for at least five years.

Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po

Obama did not reopen old wounds

Julia Kwong ('The cruel reality of colonialism', April 10) bristles over Stephen Anderson's claim about colonised people benefiting from their British colonisers ('Free speech a valuable British legacy', April 3) and resurrects atrocities from centuries past.

Citing writers from former colonising countries who exposed their nations' historical distortions, she doesn't acknowledge such work could be a means to a healing process. The 'this-must-not-happen again' syndrome is good for places like Holocaust museums and should also apply to bitter colonial memories.

Peculiarly, she dismisses Barack Obama's story of his ancestors because it was 'written by an American'. Obama gleaned his facts from relatives in Kenya and apparently chose not pick scabs from old wounds. He's obviously found it more civilised to look forward and not harp on the past, with a spirit of forgiveness also manifested by desisting from blaming his predecessor in the White House for damaging his country, leaving him to clean up the mess.

The colonial blame game was raised by a segment of African Americans who've demanded restitution from their former masters for past sufferings. Their enlightened members have disagreed and realise they should 'get over it'. Surely colonised people too would benefit from adopting such a mindset.

It's a stretch to think that had Jose Rizal had an aggressive mindset like Koxinga's, the Philippines would now be a 'better developed' country. Such an outcome is doubtful; in fact Lee Kuan Yew once classified East Asians as a 'more intense' race and Southeast Asians as 'less intense'.

So the 'intense' ones who resisted their colonisers lost initially, while the submissive types plodded along until favoured by events. Ironically, the less intense Philippines was the first nation in Asia to gain its independence.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

No real changes in classroom

As a Form Five student I don't see any difference between the old and new (Diploma of Secondary Education) school systems.

The spoon-feeding and exam-oriented culture is deeply ingrained in the classroom. The Diploma of Secondary Education exam remains the be-all and end-all for students. It is seen as a necessary evil to enable us to secure a stable future.

This mentality will endure. Hong Kong is a knowledge-based society, and anyone who fails in a public exam has poor career prospects. An interactive approach is now encouraged but teachers will find it difficult to give up their long-held chalk-and-talk approach.

Although the intention of the new system is to nourish creativity, it is hard to implement.

Just take English language as an example. One of the electives is learning English through drama. The ideal goal proposed by the Education Bureau is to learn by going through the process of producing a drama and appreciating others' plays. With limited class time, we are unable to enjoy the production process, or hone our acting skills.

Given that everything we are doing is directed towards the public exam, the teaching and learning culture will not change. It is just like old times.

The education reforms have failed to change entrenched attitudes and ways of working.

Alice Wong Kar-man, Choi Hung

Exemptions offer SMEs fairer deal

The competition bill is designed to enhance economic efficiency and a free flow of trade through the promotion of sustainable competition.

The aim is to benefit the business sector and consumers. It will prohibit anti-competitive conduct. The ultimate aim of this law is to protect the small and medium-sized firms (SMEs).

This could lead to crackdowns on some large enterprises, which could give the SMEs a competitive edge and ensure the market is not dominated by just a few of the big corporations.

Prices of food and other goods have soared because of the rising rate of inflation.

SMEs are suffering thanks to skyrocketing rents and the inflation rate.

The big firms continue to be the dominant force on our economy.

Therefore, I think it would be reasonable and would make sense to grant further exemptions to some SMEs under the new bill in order to give them further protection.

I cannot see why these concessions should in any way weaken the proposed legislation or compromise the principles enshrined in the law.

On the contrary, I think these additional exemptions will ensure that SMEs will have more of a level playing field.

This will enable them to participate and succeed in Hong Kong's economy.

I support the government's amendments to the bill.

They have listened to people's opinions and shown a willingness to try to create a fairer economic system in Hong Kong.

Wong Tsz-kiu, Sha Tin

Don't make passengers pay more

Although the third runway at Chek Lap Kok will lead to an improved air transport system with more room to meet increased demand, the project will be very expensive.

I would not support it if it was paid for by charging a levy which led to higher airfares.

If prices went up again because of this proposed levy, then more people from the poorer sections of society would have fewer opportunities to travel by plane. Teenagers who were keen to travel would also be restricted.

Additional charges should not be imposed on airline passengers.

This third runway is a public infrastructure project. It is the government that is keen to build it in order to increase the capacity of the airport.

Therefore, to pay for it, it should not impose a heavier burden on air travellers.

Stephanie Fong, Tai Wai