Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2012
Air quality objectives are outdated
The government should implement new air quality standards as soon as possible.
Given that we have serious levels of air pollution, there should be no hesitation on the part of officials when it comes to dealing with this problem. The pollution and the dampness are particularly bad for people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, who will keep falling ill.
Hong Kong's air quality objectives are a measure of what is an acceptable level of air quality. This benchmark was established back in 1987, so our air quality standards are clearly outdated. When we measure the pollution index, smaller particles must be included (which can penetrate our lungs). This will more accurately reflect pollution levels.
In order to protect their respiratory systems, Hongkongers must push the government to implement new air quality standards. These standards must be based on World Health Organisation guidelines, which enable us to monitor air pollution effectively.
If people want the situation to improve and protect their health, they must let the government know what they think. It is up to us to take responsibility to improve our society.
Cheng Hiu-man, Lok Fu
Basic Law has no schedule for integration
Pierce Lam's letter ("Basic Law clear about integration", November 22) alleges a contradiction in mine ("Basic Law clear about Hong Kong's status", November 12) as to whether the Basic Law includes a schedule for integration.
His assertion is based on a superficial reading of my letter. The words of the Basic Law provide the correct measure.
Mr Lam says "the Basic Law is sufficiently clear about Hong Kong's scheduled integration with China". But the Basic Law makes no express reference to any process of nor any schedule for "integration".
Presumably there would be integration upon expiry of the Basic Law in 2047, but Mr Lam's implication of a process of early integration into the Basic Law is contrary to the clear words conferring most of the rights and powers of government on Hong Kong for 50 years.
Notwithstanding that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, subject to Chinese sovereignty, the high degree of autonomy the Basic Law confers to it excludes "integration". The respective roles, rights and powers of Hong Kong and the mainland are clearly set out. Those are the rules with which both sides must work until 2047. Agitating for early integration and erosion of the rights guaranteed under the Basic Law undermine the constitutional arrangements, creating conflict and destabilisation.
My letter encourages co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland for their mutual benefit, a common-sense position, endorsed by many, to leverage Hong Kong's role as a gateway to China, inbound and outbound.
Mr Lam asks "What is sound judgment?" In this context it would involve balanced assessment based on the words of the Basic Law, on reason and the rule of law. Respecting human rights and the will of the people, it would foster growth and eschew cronyism. It would not offer carte blanche to the "law of rulers" where the constitution is ignored and words mean whatever power declares them to mean. It would not be servile or subservient.
Confidence in Hong Kong requires the certainty that the arrangements set out in the Basic Law will stand for 50 years, rather than being undermined and hollowed out by those advocating early integration.
Allan Woodley, Sydney, Australia
Artificial beach will be white elephant
I wish to join the parade of discontent towards the government's decision to build an artificial beach in Lung Mei.
As a nearby resident of the proposed site, I find it outrageous that the government would go ahead in building such a destructive and pointless beach.
Environmentalists have emphasised the destruction such a project would do to the local marine life, and have confirmed that the substantial levels of heavy metals and other potentially harmful chemicals in Tolo Harbour have made the water there unsuitable for swimming.
Therefore, it is without doubt that should this ghastly project go ahead, it will become another white elephant, hence another misuse of taxpayers' money, along with the further endangerment of endangered marine species in the area.
I sincerely hope the government will reconsider the Lung Mei project, and I would like to remind those in charge that they really should do more to promote environmental "protection", not "destruction".
Andrew Nunn, Tai Po
Unique Lung Mei should be preserved
I agree with Alex Tang Hin-lung ("Closer study of artificial beach needed", November 27).
The government should strike a balance between environmental and development needs.
If this artificial beach is built in Tai Po, it will damage the environment of Lung Mei. There will be water, noise and air pollution, because this facility will generate a lot of waste.
At present it is a perfect location to learn about nature, with many species to study.
It is easy to get to, and apart from studying the wildlife, you can go there just to rest, have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Unspoilt sites like Lung Mei enable people to relieve the stress they often feel from living in Hong Kong. The government should preserve Lung Mei, because we do not have enough places like that in the SAR.
Haley Li, Sheung Shui
Set up police unit to curb animal abuse
The brutal attack on a cat at a housing estate last month was shocking.
The inhumane treatment of the cat was heartbreaking.
Afterwards, I did some more reading on the subject and discovered that there are many cases of animal abuse in Hong Kong, such as food which has nails in it being given to stray cats and dogs.
Action must be taken to curb this kind of abuse.
I would like to see a special police unit set up which specialises in investigating and taking action against animal cruelty and also keeps an eye on those animals which are considered vulnerable.
There also has to be more education. People have to learn to understand the needs of animals and the importance of taking care of them.
Iris Ma, Kwun Tong
How to reduce chaos caused by traders
As the father of two police officers, I find it disconcerting when police are given a job to do without the means to do it effectively.
When the traders were causing traffic flow problems on the bridge at Lo Wu leading to mainland immigration control and posing a danger to children and other bridge users, Hong Kong police deployed about 12 officers.
They were able to keep people moving and would not allow traders to stop on the bridge to repack their goods.
Unfortunately it is a complete waste of police resources, and eventually it was reduced to two or three officers who spend their time yelling at traders to keep moving.
It doesn't work as the traders only move to the other side of the bridge or farther along, where they stop and resume their repacking. The whole exercise is very frustrating to the officers who are given this job.
The traders continually outsmart the Hong Kong authorities as they have demonstrated with the MTR weighing machines.
Solving the bridge problem should be quite simple. All that is required is a sign saying, "No Loitering on the Bridge: Fine HK$100."
You would only need one officer with a pen and a fine book to walk towards the loiterers and they would quickly move on.
The border trade cannot be stopped, but it can be managed.
Thomas Beckett, Tai Po
Do not delay granting new TV licences
There has been a heated debate about whether the Hong Kong government should issue new free-to-air television licences.
While there has been opposition to them on commercial grounds, I would support their introduction.
The quality of programming presently provided by the only two free stations in Hong Kong, TVB and ATV, has been steadily getting worse.
Something must be done to get them to try and raise standards.
It is clear that viewers want to be able to see high-quality shows.
I am sure there have been a lot of complaints about low quality output, and Hongkongers will no longer accept this state of affairs.
I understand there were also a lot of complaints over the protest staged by ATV last month against the issue of new licences.
Surveys have shown that Hongkongers are unhappy with the existing arrangement and do not want to see any delays in the issuing of the new licences. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should take note of public opinion, and the government should grant the licences as soon as possible.
Amy Mok Wing-sum, Lai Chi Kok