Letters to the Editor, November 24, 2012
Environment officials can do better job
The Environmental Protection Department's dogged intention to locate a massive off-shore waste incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau marked a low point in governance.
The decision was made for the wrong reasons, when there were more cost-effective and environmentally viable alternatives available.
It is evident the government has been weak-kneed when facing opposition from vested interests, but has been willing to frustrate public opinion on this matter to such a degree that the director of environmental protection lost credibility with the community.
As a result, a Cheung Chau resident brought a judicial review against this ill-advised HK$23 billion project. He is to be commended.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor claims that the first four months of government under Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have been productive, but also remarks that governance has become difficult ("Lam claims productive first four months" November 15).
That is not surprising when officials continually make decisions that are obviously against the wishes of the majority of citizens, and public consultations are a sham.
It is most doubtful that the new team at the Environmental Protection Department would have supported the Shek Kwu Chau decision.
Common sense should prevail and that decision should be rescinded by the new administration.
The traffic congestion caused by the disparity in tunnel tolls is another area where our administration needs to apply common sense to a problem where government bureaucrats have been totally impotent for far too many years.
As a result, roadside pollution has soared and the government is failing the population miserably ("Watchdog slams city's battle on pollution", November 15).
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Take old diesel vehicles off our roads now
My thanks to Tom Holland ("The sheer wilful stupidity of official inaction on pollution", November 16) and the Audit Commission report ("Watchdog slams city's battle on pollution", November 15) for highlighting what we all know, the complete failure of this government's so-called clean air policy.
To clean up this mess, it is obligatory that we tackle roadside pollution without delay and with a vengeance.
Years of government inaction have seen our air quality deteriorate to dangerous levels.
As a father of four children, I am seriously concerned for their well-being. No wonder class-action lawsuits can't get off the ground here.
Why is it that this administration cannot tackle roadside air pollution and immediately take 50,000 pre-2001 diesel vehicles off the roads?
Is it to do with the transport lobby and other vested interest groups?
Christine Loh Kung-wai (environment undersecretary), where are you?
Tony Carey, Kwun Tong
Tai Po beach plan will ravage habitat
A coalition of 30 groups opposing the government's plan to build an artificial beach in Lung Mei wants to launch a judicial review against the project.
This project could harm a vulnerable marine ecosystem and I am concerned by the government's decision to go ahead with its proposal.
It seems to be motivated by profit rather than preserving the delicate ecological balance in this coastal area of Tai Po. Marine creatures there and their habitat would be wiped out.
I urge officials to reconsider their decision, realise they will do more harm than good, and withdraw plans for the construction of this artificial beach.
Law Wan-ning, Tsuen Wan
Disappearing act lands us all in the rough
Our government saw fit to pay HK$16 million from the Mega Events Fund to underwrite the status of the Hong Kong Open golf tournament.
However, this leg of the European golf tour will have second billing next year.
It seems that more than a third of the government's contribution went to one player as an appearance fee.
Rory McIlroy publicly enthused about how great it was to be returning to our wonderful city as the defending champion - in those circumstances, no wonder.
It has transpired that Murphy's law came into play and McIlroy missed the cut after two rounds, thereby depriving the Hong Kong public of his crowd-pulling presence on the Saturday and Sunday, the prime spectator days.
The government has egg on its face as it used public funds for what was in effect a "disappearance fee".
I.M. Wright, Happy Valley
Efficient HK no techno basket case
I refer to the letter by Kristiaan Helsen ("'World city' a technology basket case", November 17).
He cites the absence of fully automated check-out counters at superstores and self-service options at petrol stations to make his case.
His reasoning is, to say the least, very irrational.
The sizes of the stores, especially with respect to the number of customers served, make it obviously quite difficult to house automated counters, in addition to serviced counters.
A major factor in favour of manned counters is the fact that they generate much-needed employment. The same goes for petrol stations.
In addition, fully manned stations are far more time-efficient.
In Hong Kong, one wouldn't see many automatic car wash centres. Mr Helsen probably finds this deficiency mind boggling too. But then you hardly ever see a dirty car on the roads, in stark contrast to many, if not most, European cities.
I would like Mr Helsen to tell us how many places in the world have a system that is as efficient, yet simple, as the Octopus card prevalent here. Nowhere in this "basket case" of a city does one ever face a problem with electronic connectivity, whether through mobile phones, iPads or laptops.
Having just returned from Auckland, where the internet connectivity in the rooms of a 4.5-star hotel reminded me of the early 1990s, I am even more appreciative of the technological advancements available in this, Asia's basket-case, city.
The e-channels at the airport are another superb example of efficiency.
There are quite a few reasons one could criticise Hong Kong, but definitely not on the technological front.
Subid Ranjan Das, Wong Chuk Hang
Pay now, argue later over means test
A number of groups and lawmakers are opposed to a means test for the government's proposed monthly old-age living allowance of HK$2,200.
This means that plans to implement the scheme have been put on hold.
The airing of diverse views is not harmful to a society, but in this debate there appears to be no room for compromise.
We are approaching the winter months and Lunar New Year in February.
Elderly citizens who are living below the poverty line need this allowance now.
Critics say that, under the means test rule, people would not be eligible if their assets exceeded HK$186,000 and that this sum is too low.
I agree that if you do not have a stable income and only HK$186,000 in a bank account, it will still be hard to get by, given that prices of basic necessities keep rising.
There needs to be some sort of compromise within the Legislative Council.
Lawmakers could pass the Old Age Living Allowance in its present form and then agree that it would be subject to an annual re-assessment, during which it could be decided whether to eliminate the means test altogether.
The priority for legislators should be the welfare of the elderly and for this reason, instead of proposing countless amendments to stall the legislation, they should pass it as soon as possible.
Anna Chu, Kwun Tong
Kiss is just a kiss, even in Burma
I refer to the report about US President Barack Obama's visit to Burma ("A carefully scripted visit to burnish Obama's tenure," November 21).
Obama does not need to polish his image overseas, where he is generally admired. As the report said, his trip to Asia was something he pledged to do before his re-election.
This was obviously done in an effort to show that his country is not only fixated on domestic affairs, but is also aware of its relations with, and responsibilities towards, the rest of the world
For the report to state that the US leader left Aung San Suu Kyi "visibly uncomfortable" because she's a "devout Buddhist" when he pecked her on the cheeks, and gave her a hug, is slanted editorialising.
It's a totally antediluvian attitude in this, the 21st century, when people of various faiths and persuasions know that to express one's feelings is perfectly normal.
Ms Suu Kyi was educated and lived abroad and surely is no stiff-necked individual who shuns displays of emotion.
Civilised individuals who do not hide their affection make for a more tolerant and happier world.
L.M.S. Valerio, Tin Hau