Letters to the Editor, February 6, 2013
Pedestrianise Des Voeux Road Central
One thing that is certain regarding the new administration is that it is serious about tackling environmental problems that have been around for years.
Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing and environment undersecretary Christine Loh Kung-wai have come from outside government and show that they know the problems in detail and the possible solutions.
They obviously have support from the chief executive, as can be seen in the policy address, and steps are finally being taken to do things which will make an impact.
Loh set out priorities for cleaning up our dirty air and it showed that former "untouchables" such as using government money to get rid of polluting vehicles are no longer issues ("Clear route", January 30). More than HK$10 billion has been earmarked to get rid of 88,000 polluting vehicles by January 2016.
Also, the rationalisation and reorganisation of bus routes, and the adjustment of tunnel fees to improve usage efficiency and relieve congestion, are obvious measures that have been known for years but have been too difficult for previous administrations to do anything about.
These provide scope for some of the other things in Loh's list to be actively pursued.
The low-emission zones and more pedestrian-only zones now become a reality.
In 2003, the Hong Kong Institute of Planners proposed a scheme to pedestrianise Des Voeux Road in Central, which would have greatly improved our central business district environment for people and business. It was too difficult for the government at the time.
With this change in attitude, now is the time to dust off this scheme, and other innovative ideas that many groups had previously proposed, and seriously look at implementing them.
The new administration appears receptive to good ideas from the community on improving the environment.
Let's hope that many more good ideas come forward and a rational process of support from inside and outside government really results in an improved and sustainable environment.
Ian Brownlee, Happy Valley
Traders will just switch to other products
The government has finally enforced some new measures to ensure a stable supply of milk powder for Hong Kong babies ("Two-can limit to stop trade in milk powder", February 2).
It is setting up a 24-hour hotline for Hong Kong mothers to reserve the milk formula from suppliers, and will legislate to limit the amount of milk formula parallel-goods traders can carry over the border.
However, despite its measures, I do not feel the government will be able to stop these parallel-goods traders. It needs to take more effective action against them.
Even if the new rules limit their ability to trade in milk formula, will they not simply switch to other commodities which are not covered by legislative amendments?
The government will have to work with mainland officials to deal effectively with these people.
It has to look again at the issue of multiple-entry visas which have proved so popular with these parallel traders.
Tiffany Leung Cho-yik, Tsuen Wan
Wholesale market for milk formula
The solution to problems caused by cross-border trade in milk powder is not tougher measures and penalties, including prison, as proposed by the Hong Kong government; just the opposite.
Officials should open a wholesale market for milk powder near Fo Tan station (there is a huge unused bus terminal near exit B, ideal for unloading trucks).
Importers of milk powder to Hong Kong will then be able to deliver tonnes of this product to Fo Tan.
The traders can easily get there, buy as many cans as they wish, and straight away take the train to the border.
It will be good for Sheung Shui, because the local retail shops will then go back to their core business, that is, selling milk formula to Sheung Shui mothers and not cross-border traders.
It will be good for Hong Kong's economy as more yuan will be spent here.
It will also be good for the MTR's network and business. However, the MTR Corporation should allow only large boxes to be transported on the first carriage of each train.
This would leave 11 cars free of bulky cargo and ensure a more pleasant ride for other passengers.
Navis I. Kim, Fo Tan
Chinese now more aware of shark crisis
In recent years there has been a heated debate about the extensive fishing for sharks to take their fins.
Chinese people have been blamed by some individuals who argue that shark numbers have decreased dramatically as more are caught to satisfy the demand from Chinese diners for shark's fin dishes in restaurants.
I admit that shark's fin soup and similar dishes were very popular in the past.
They were seen as a valuable part of our traditional Chinese cuisine.
However, with shark numbers in our oceans rapidly dropping, there has been greater public awareness of the need for conservation and a change in policies.
Many people moved away from shark's fin on restaurant menus and chose other dishes instead.
However, in spite of this, the problem is getting worse and there are clearly other factors to consider.
I understand that sharks are also in demand from non- Chinese sources as some cosmetic and health products can be made from parts of sharks [such as oil extracts].
Also, there are still some forms of fishing that use enormous nets and sharks are regularly caught and killed in them by mistake.
As they are not the target of these large-scale fishing operations, they are often just thrown back into the ocean.
In addition, different species of fish die from increased pollution in our oceans and the El Nino effect, which causes temperatures to rise.
Fish are unable to adapt to these changes in their habitat and many die as a consequence.
While it is important to curb overfishing, it is also important to try and reduce levels of pollution in the ocean.
Having an effective environmental conservation policy is only possible if nations co-operate.
We have caused these problems and can only solve them by working together.
Sheena Chung, Tsuen Wan
Recyclable waste still ends up in landfills
I agree with Mandy Lee Man-shan ("Festival waste can be put to good use", January 24), that recycling Christmas trees reduces waste volumes.
There will be further pressure on our landfills with Lunar New Year approaching, because of the wasteful habits of Hongkongers.
Red wrapping paper, envelopes and gift boxes will end up in rubbish bins.
Although green groups do their best after these festive seasons, a lot of recyclable material will still end up in the landfills.
The government has to do more to raise public awareness about the importance of recycling waste.
Once the waste charging scheme is introduced, it will act as a deterrent and I don't know why the government is dragging its heels over this policy. When it comes to waste reduction, Singapore and Taiwan are good examples to follow.
Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill