Dam will not disrupt flow of Mekong
I refer to your editorial ("Laos risking decades of co-operation with Mekong dam project", November 17).
In pursuit of its poverty reduction policies and modernisation programmes, the Lao government is developing its hydropower potential for the benefit of its people.
In the past, we have developed several successful hydropower projects on tributaries of the Mekong River, the largest of which is the 1,088-megawatt Nam Theun 2 Dam, praised by the World Bank as a model hydropower project.
Based on this and other successful experiences, the Lao government authorised ground-breaking for the Xayaburi dam project on November 7, enabling construction to begin on the Mekong's main stream.
Before doing so, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) has made certain that it is in full compliance with all requirements of the 1995 Mekong Agreement and that we have satisfactorily addressed all concerns of the riparian countries.
The Xayaburi hydropower project is state-of-the art, incorporating the very latest developments and improvements in hydropower production and technology.
This is the same technology that is being used to produce clean, renewable, zero-carbon-emission energy in Europe today.
Xayaburi is a "run-of-river" project that does not store large water volumes.
No gas, oil or coal will be burned causing harmful pollutants, and all the while energy for millions of people will be produced using only the natural flow of the river.
It is important to note there will be no change to the hydrology or the natural flood and dry-seasonal cycles of the Mekong River.
What's more, there will be no trans-boundary impacts on flood levels in the Tonle Sap and no impact on minimum dry- season flows in the Mekong Delta.
The natural cycles of these great water systems will continue in the future as if there were no dam at Xayaburi.
The government aims to learn from other countries and organisations that have already built run-of-river power plants successfully in their own river systems. It will do this in order to gather valuable knowledge to safeguard our own ecosystem while allowing development progress for the people of the Lao PDR.
Dr Daovong Phonekeo, director general, Department of Energy Policy and Planning, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Lao PDR
We can all save energy in our own homes
I think that all Hongkongers can do their bit to conserve energy, by following simple routines.
For example, I place my computer on "sleep" mode when I am not using it and turn off the lights when I leave room. I open doors and windows for ventilation rather than switching on an air conditioner.
Anyone could follow these measures, but people either forget to do them or cannot be bothered.
I wish people were not so selfish and would realise that saving energy is good for the planet.
The government could make more people aware of this issue through education.
Carmen Cheng, Sham Shui Po
DJs braved harbour for good cause
I read the article on Operation Santa Claus with mixed feelings ("Still giving after 25 years", November 18).
As a long-time supporter of RTHK (before that Radio Hong Kong - RHK), I was pleased to read an entire page devoted to this annual charity event. This is the landmark year for Operation Santa Claus, and as Lo Wei writes, "It started with popular DJs pulling crazy stunts to attract donations". I would like to say some more about how it began.
RHK got things started in the mid-1950s, and the show was "Operation Fat Choy".
That was before RTHK and RHK was the only free radio station. When RTHK's deputy director of broadcasting Tai Keen-man recounts the stories of DJs jumping into the sea from Queen's Pier, the names of those brave individuals should have been mentioned.
The most popular radio personalities who participated in the harbour jump included John Wallace, Eddie Au-Yeung and Ray Cordeiro (our beloved Uncle Ray).
This annual charity event set the pace for the later charity shows in the entertainment field in Hong Kong, and those heroic acts of the DJs should be remembered. Those were certainly not crazy acts by some crazy gweilos.
As an old-timer I am pleased to have witnessed the resurrection of "Operation Fat Choy" which became "Operation Santa Claus" and wish that in this "landmark year" it will reach a fund-raising target which is also seen as a landmark. I wish the article had concentrated more on how Operation Santa Claus works and how to encourage more participation. I also wish RTHK would broadcast more on this event on all channels, not just Radio 3.
Teresa Wong, Lantau
Simple way to solve television licence dispute
The only way to settle the issue of television channels is to open all of them up to the free market except two or three.
The free market will look after itself and, because of limited advertising revenue, will most likely sink further into mediocrity.
The other channels should be assigned to an independent public service television broadcaster to provide quality programmes in the two official languages and Putonghua.
All developed countries, and what we like to call "world-class cities", have public service broadcasting.
They appreciate that the expenditure of public funds for this is no different from the need for libraries, concert halls, theatres and all the other social infrastructure provisions.
They also appreciate that direct funding for a public service broadcaster costs the public little more than the "TV advertising cost overhead" on everything we buy.
We were bogged down by the arguments as to whether our public service broadcasting should be a new body or a revised RTHK.
That argument is trivial compared with the need to have an energetic public service broadcaster to counterbalance what more commercial channels will bring.
Time we caught up with "world-class cities".
S.P. Li, Lantau
Free-to-air TV needs more competition
I strongly support having more free-to-air television stations because I think audiences deserve a greater choice of programmes.
At the moment we only have two free stations in Hong Kong, ATV and TVB, and that is not enough.
Compare that with Britain, which has a lot more free-to-air options for viewers. I would like to see at least three free stations here.
I suspect that ATV is opposed to this expansion because it will be unwelcome competition. I don't think it is very popular, with low ratings, and there has been a lot of public discontent over what it has to offer.
ATV should recognise that this is the case.
With more competition it will be up to the television stations to come up with more creative and interesting programmes to attract viewers.
Katie Lee, Sha Tin
Education can help curb animal cruelty
The recent incident of the torturing of a stray cat at a public housing estate in Kwun Tong, has highlighted the problem of cruelty to animals.
This is a serious problem and sometimes it may arise through lack of education. The abusers have not learned to respect the lives and rights of animals.
I think the courts have to be allowed to impose tougher penalties, in terms of fines and prison sentences, for those people found guilty of animal cruelty.
At present the maximum penalties are low.
Also, there must be more education on animal welfare in schools, and through TV and radio, about the importance of curbing animal cruelty.
Rochelle Fung, Ma On Shan
HK's private hospitals need closer checks
The Department of Health should take note of the criticisms levelled at it by the Audit Commission ("Controls over private facilities found wanting", November 15).
For example, the audit report found that written warnings for some serious irregularities at private hospitals had not been issued by officials.
The department has to step up controls immediately and ensure that its monitoring systems are aligned for private and public hospitals.
To ensure the safety of patients, it must reinforce its supervision of all private hospitals.
Valerie Suen, Tai Po