Letters to the Editor, February 4, 2013
HK$10b fund will not curb air pollution
I do not believe that the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying can deliver clean air to Hong Kong.
The HK$10 billion announced in his policy address to "remove tens of thousands of the dirtiest vehicles from the streets" ("Full speed ahead on old trucks' road to the scrapyard", January 17) will be wasted. This measure probably came about thanks to lobbying by vested interests from the motor trade.
The objective of this HK$10 billion fund is to help buses and trucks make the transition from badly polluting exhaust emissions to Euro V standards. According to government data, that means a reduction in two main areas, nitrogen oxide and particulates, the latter includes the infamous PM2.5 pollutant.
In all vehicles, including Euro V, this can be done using a catalytic converter. Generally, these devices cost a few thousand dollars. So, why do we need to scrap our old dirty vehicles, when all that needs to be done is for them to be fitted with catalytic converters?
It would be better to use some of the HK$10 billion in this way. Make these devices mandatory for all dirty vehicles and ensure they are regularly checked and maintained. Whatever is left over could be used to install "air cleaning stations" as we have severe roadside pollution. Local universities are doing research on these stations, which are filtering devices, with air passing through and being cleaned.
The air filtering system can handle huge volumes of air quickly, using water vapor- isation and ionisation to take out pollutants.
Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong
Taxis could switch to new hybrid models
I was in Hong Kong for a holiday to show my teenage son my old stomping grounds and noticed the smog was much worse than 20 years ago.
The choking feeling that used to be confined to Kowloon Tong, where the cars idle their way into the Lion Rock Tunnel, has now spread.
When we stopped over in Vancouver on the way home, the contrast was not really surprising. While a sparser population was the main cause, a contributing factor is that almost all the taxis in that city have converted to Toyota's fuel-efficient hybrid Priuses.
Breathing the fresh air, it struck me they would be a perfect replacement for Hong Kong's old fleet of Toyota Crowns. In Hong Kong, taxis make up a larger proportion of cars on the road than in most places. Regenerative braking would help compensate for all the hills. And idling shut-off would help at the mouths of tunnels, and now so many other places, where cars sit trapped in traffic.
I hope Hong Kong is able to clean things up a little in time for our next visit.
Don Pittis, Toronto, Canada
Christians have point on proposed law
With reference to Nigel Collett's letter ("Shame in the pusillanimous policymakers", January 27), I can see where the Christians are coming from.
If we outlaw discrimination against people of diverse sexuality, then preaching in the church, or for that matter in the mosque, against sodomy, would fall foul of the law, unless we make exceptions in the legislation for the clergy preaching.
Although according to Mr Collett, up to 5 per cent of the population are of diverse sexuality, it does not mean they are not abnormal. While such abnormality is being inconspicuously accommodated, it is not being discriminated against. But to be accommodating would, I fear, be ruled a form of discrimination under the envisaged anti-discrimination legislation. Where does that leave Christians, then?
The same goes for the disabled - tolerate and accommodate by all means, but don't pretend they are not handicapped. The pretension hurts them more.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Bars must do away with ladies' nights
The "ladies' night" in Hong Kong is a dumb marketing ploy that objectifies women and should be banned.
On a Thursday nights in Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong's centre of expat drinking), women can drink for free in some bars.
To boost numbers on a traditionally quiet night, bars offer women, sorry "ladies", free alcohol, while men pay. Men who are caught sneaking a sip of a woman's free drink are ejected.
Presumably, the bars can afford to give away the free alcohol because the men who pay make up for the deficit, and more.
Call me bitter, but I think it is a desperate and discriminatory way for the bars to make a quick buck that, in the long run, reinforces Hong Kong's patriarchal society.
The people behind it are unimaginative marketeers who would do anything (including compromising their own humanity) for cash.
The implicit law behind this, to fill the bars with drunk women and the paying men will be there, suggests:
- Men have the money;
- Women will go where there is free alcohol; and
- Men want to be where drunk women are.
It may seem harmless to the women who drink the free booze, but they're effectively offering themselves up as bait for the bars, which wish to attract wealthy men who come to prey on them.
They become the free gift in a bizarre offering to Hong Kong's men: buy a drink and enjoy the company of drunk women.
To be fair, not all Hong Kong bars offer this kind of incentive, but why some still do is beyond me. It shows how far Hong Kong has to come in its cultural development.
Am I reading too much into it or missing the point? I would be grateful to hear other readers' thoughts.
Christopher Bone, Sham Shui Po
CY has been pragmatic and proactive
It saddens me to read about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's plunging popularity rating.
He dealt promptly with long-standing problems such as mainland women coming here to give birth and introduced new stamp duties to alleviate property speculation. He has been proactive, industrious and pragmatic.
I do not understand why so many people are still arguing about his credibility. It is irrelevant when it comes to judging what he has achieved. I hope his critics will come to appreciate what he has done.
Joyce Hung, Tuen Mun
Officials can crack down on false addresses
There's a simple solution to the lack of suitable school places in the northern New Territories and, indeed, in the whole of Hong Kong.
Anecdotally, there is widespread use of fake addresses when parents apply for Primary One places through the central allocation scheme. This has been going on for years.
An extensive audit of these addressees would free up places for genuine, honest applicants according to the Education Bureau's own policy.
It stipulates that parents should give the "actual residential address of their child" when filling in the Primary One Admission application form.
The bureau says that, if parents give a false address in order to get a place, "the application will be rendered void and the P1 [Primary One] place allocated will be withdrawn". It urges people who suspect a case of use of a false address on the application form to call the hotline of the School Places Allocation Section.
I would like to know, through these columns, how many addresses have been checked in the past five years. Also, how many places have been "withdrawn"?
I look forward to the bureau's response and excuses for why this is not feasible.
P. Gilbert, Fo Tan
Priority for local students is unfair
Local families are now asking to be given priority over mainlanders for public school admissions because of the intense competition for places ("Schools may give locals priority", January 22). However, I do not agree with them.
As a Hong Kong student, I know how difficult it is to get into a good school and I accept that, given the number of mainland children who were born here, competition is fierce.
However, under the law, they have the same rights as Hong Kong-born children living here. If the government gave the latter group priority, it would contravene Hong Kong's core values and the rights of the mainland students.
It does not matter what your racial background is or where your parents came from. A child born in Hong Kong or who has lived here for seven years should be treated the same as any other Hong Kong citizen. There should never be any discrimination.
Children living here can cross the border and study on the mainland, so it should be the same for mainland students coming over here.
There have been lots of negative comments about mainlanders and their bad habits, but they deserve to be shown respect. And, when it comes to complaints over bad manners, pupils from the mainland can be taught moral education in schools in the city.
Scarlet Wong, Sha Tin