Letters to the Editor, November 27, 2012
Ban on 'hobby breeders' long overdue
Every so often, Hong Kong is offered an opportunity to take significant steps against animal cruelty and to improve animal welfare.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's recent proposed legislation regarding Better Regulating Pet Trading to Enhance Animal Health and Welfare is such an opportunity.
If accepted and approved, this proposed legislation addresses and prevents a huge area of cruelty and unnecessary suffering for dogs, namely, that of the unlicensed, unregulated and unscrupulous "hobby breeders".
This legislation would not impinge on the public's right to purchase a dog of their choice, or the right of a breeder who has a genuine concern for animal welfare to operate a legitimate business.
The new proposals address the mandatory licensing of all breeding for sale in order to close loopholes and set minimum standards, while also substantially increasing the penalties for unlicensed breeding. It provides the power to inspect and the power to revoke licences.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) sees the effects of this un-governed cruel trade on a daily basis.
We see breeding animals confined to small filthy cages for years at a time, abandoned animals and a trade in puppies of which a significant proportion are already diseased or sick. We can see how desperately needed this legislation is and how much of a positive impact its approval would be.
The SPCA applauds our government for this initiative and urges the Hong Kong public to support the proposals. Hong Kong can simply not afford to miss such an opportunity to improve animal welfare, especially when it's an action that is so overdue.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the people of Hong Kong support a more humane society.
The opportunity for us to show our support of this legislation, and provide increased protection for the tens of thousands of dogs it will affect over the next decades, is a significant step in the right direction.
Sandy Macalister, executive director, SPCA
Mainland influx has downside
I refer to the report ("Call to cut number of mainland migrants", November 23).
I agree that the number of mainland immigrants coming to Hong Kong should be reduced.
We have had many cases of mainland women coming to the city to give birth so that their children can have right of abode. This influx of mainland children puts greater strain on the Hong Kong government's welfare budget. There must be tighter limit on the number of mainlanders coming to Hong Kong, especially pregnant women.
I am also concerned about the social instability that too many mainlanders can bring. We are seeing more disputes breaking out between Hong Kong and mainland citizens in the SAR and the arguments appear to be getting worse.
Also, the manners of some mainland visitors are bad and this creates a negative impression of the city with other tourists. The Hong Kong economy relies a lot on the tourist industry and we do not want to deter visitors from coming here, because they are put off by the behaviour of mainlanders.
Some people might argue that many mainland migrants make an important financial contribution to the Hong Kong SAR.
If they are making a lot of purchases, then they can certainly help certain sectors of the economy. But with their frequent purchases of property, they are pushing up prices here. For many ordinary Hong Kong citizens, the cost of a flat is beyond their reach, with prices reaching record highs.
I think that the mainland immigrants bring more disadvantages than advantages to Hong Kong and I would like to see a decrease in their numbers.
Anson Tam, Tsuen Wan
We need more reclamation projects
Rents and flat prices have risen sharply thanks to property speculators in Hong Kong, including investors from the mainland.
The SAR government's attempts to cool down the property market have proved to be problematic.
I think one of the problems is that there are not enough public flats to meet the demand. Simply put, the supply of public housing lags behind the demands of Hong Kong citizens. By contrast, Singapore does a much better job and there are enough public housing estates to meet the needs of the country's citizens.
In order to increase available land, we need to recognise the growing importance of land reclamation. With a properly structured reclamation policy, Hong Kong should be able to make more land available for housing.
Trevor Yeung, Yau Ma Tei
No justification for bike ban on harbour path
Hong Kong's authorities have shown their complete lack of commitment to environmentally friendly lifestyles, by banning cyclists from the new harbourfront path between Central ferry piers and Tamar.
For the last couple of weeks, commuters between Central and Admiralty have been able to enjoy the newly opened harbourfront path. Instead of taking the bus as I used to, I can now walk along the seafront, benefiting from more exercise while keeping my distance from car exhaust fumes. I was pleased to see bicycles and push-scooters appearing on the route - it was a vision of Hong Kong commuting that is usually sadly lacking, though increasingly common and is encouraged by governments elsewhere in the world.
Yet on Thursday, I noticed that signs had appeared banning cyclists from the path. There is no good reason for this. The path is wide, and easily accommodates multiple pedestrians and cyclists. It is in fact an ideal cycle route. At best, this is a thoughtless application of some standardised rule or other, at worst it shows a wilful disregard for the environment and the well-being of Hong Kong residents.
In his election manifesto, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged to take effective measures to provide a high-quality living environment for the community and build Hong Kong into a "modern livable city".
On his official web page, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing emphasises that residents' "active participation is essential for the betterment of our environment".
In the spirit of this, I would like to call on Mr Wong, as well as Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment, to look into why cyclists have been banned from this path, and overturn the rule.
Susan Evans, Lantau
Glass safety law consistent with Europe
With reference to the letter from Berlin Chu Chim-ying ("Tougher laws can make glass windows safer", November 6), which asks for stricter legislation, I completely concur with the letter from C.M. Koon of the Buildings Department ("Glass safety code adheres to best practice", November 17).
Nowhere in the British/European Standard is there any requirement to carry out the heat soak test for 24 hours. Therefore, the current Hong Kong legislation is entirely consistent with European practice.
As I noted in my letter "Laminated rather than tempered glass best option for zero risk", (October 31), the only way to ensure that there is no residual risk of tempered glass containing impurities is to stop its use altogether.
Increased control and monitoring of the specified test procedures would certainly improve the current situation, along with greater scrutiny of the test documentation of the glass delivered to site.
If, however, the design is such that the special characteristics of tempered glass are necessary, as noted in Albert Leung's letter ("No easy way to stop sudden glass breakage", November 9), then it should be used in a laminated glass form, that is, with two sheets of tempered glass bonded to a special plastic interlayer.
While I don't wish to underestimate the problem with glass falling out of windows, a far greater risk, particularly in modern shopping centres, is tempered glass balustrades without adequate interconnected handrails to stop someone falling down into the void if any one unit was to shatter into small cubes.
But that is altogether a very different issue to address.
John Campbell, The Society of Facade Engineering (HK Branch)
Closer study of artificial beach needed
Over the past few weeks, many people, including environmentalists, have been urging the government to withdraw plans to construct an artificial beach at Lung Mei in Tai Po.
Despite growing voices of opposition, the government has so far refused to stand down, even though it is claimed that some species of animals would be threatened if the project went ahead.
Before arriving at a final decision, I would like officials to undertake a detailed feasibility study and have more in-depth consultations with various stakeholders.
I appreciate that the government wants to improve the quality of life of Hong Kong people, but it is important that it strikes the right balance between allowing developments to go ahead and ensuring effective environmental protection.
Alex Tang Hin-lung, Tai Wai