Letters to the Editor, February 17, 2013
Offer rewards for light-bulb recycling
The Environmental Protection Department's fluorescent lamp recycling programme provides public collection points for old fluorescent bulbs, although the container does not cater to longer tubes that some households, like my own, use.
Also, the Waste Disposal Ordinance requires any premises storing a significant quantity (for example, more than 500 pieces) of used, mercury-containing bulbs to register with the department "as a chemical waste producer, and arrange for proper collection and treatment of the used lamps at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre".
However, there is a big difference between normal domestic usage and 500 pieces.
I asked the management company of the industrial building where I work if they had registered. They said they handled about 20 old tubes a year, so it was too much trouble to register. Perhaps this company is less diligent than the majority in Hong Kong.
One recent morning, I passed a litter bin in Aberdeen and noticed seven fluorescent tubes sticking out. I recalled seeing the same thing in other locations. Maybe the management company of my building is not an exception, but is typical.
Could the department report on the number of fluorescents sold in Hong Kong and the number returned to its recycling facilities, and determine the number that are being disposed of in landfills?
I would propose that a deposit of, say, HK$1 should be charged on each fluorescent sold, and refunded when an unbroken bulb or tube is returned to the department's disposal facilities. This is insignificant compared to the electricity savings over the lifetime of the device, so it would not discourage the replacement of incandescent lights.
Maybe it would still be too much bother for management companies to handle, but it would be a just reward for the public-minded citizens who would collect and deliver discarded fluorescents. I am strongly in favour of fluorescents as they are far more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. They are similarly efficient to the latest trend - LED technology - but are much cheaper.
Each fluorescent tube contains less than 0.1 grams of mercury, so the occasional breakage is not a disaster - but we must consider the number that are slipping through the cracks in the department's recycling schemes and into our landfills.
Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang
CY shouldn't sweat over criticisms
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying came in for a lot of criticism following his first policy address.
People from the middle class said they derived few benefits, while low-income groups also said he had not done enough for them. High-income constituents feared that with too much emphasis placed on housing policy, they would end up losing money.
Leung was never going to be able to meet the demands of all citizens. People will never be satisfied no matter who is chief executive. Therefore, I do not think C. Y. Leung should be unduly concerned about the criticism he has received.
I don't think it is a good idea for people to be overcritical. They should get behind their government.
Janice Leung Cheuk-kwan, Ma On Shan
Trust is sorely lacking in list of CY's merits
I note that many people such as Joyce Hung ("CY has been pragmatic and proactive", February 4), who have backed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, turn a blind eye to [issues over] his integrity and credibility.
It is vitally important for any politician to discharge his or her duties for the good of the people. C. Y. Leung has a suspect record when it comes to integrity - this has been the major cause of his unpopularity.
Even though he has carefully handled problems like soaring house prices and poverty, he cannot dispel public concerns over his willingness to do the bidding of Beijing.
He may be proactive, industrious and pragmatic, but he lacks the public's confidence and trust.
Gravis Cheng, Yuen Long
Government's slack action on ferry pollution
The problem of marine pollution and the need to provide passenger liners with onshore power were mentioned in the policy address.
However, the government should take an immediate look at the sad state of our ferries.
Isn't it high time for action to be taken in order to make ferry companies use clean fuels and to use onshore power when docking?
Huge amounts of subsidies are earmarked to get rid of polluting vehicles, but why is the government not doing the obvious with regards to the franchised ferries right now?
It is easy to smell the problem when walking along the ferry piers in Central. Not only is it a health hazard, but it is incompatible with the image Hong Kong wishes to project as a world-class city for visitors.
Part of the problem seems to be the lack of interaction and co-ordination of government departments and the subsequent failure of the head of the government to manage the departments in a holistic manner.
For instance, then-premier Zhu Rongji criticised the Hong Kong government for its indecision. "We cannot always discuss without decisions, make decisions without execution. Once a decision is made, everyone should make full efforts and move forward."
Does this still apply to our current government?
Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay
Surprise perk of ParknShop renovation
Apologies and congratulations to all involved with the ParknShop outlet on Gage Street (at the top of Lyndhurst Terrace) in Central. During renovations in December, it appeared that the new set-up would be detrimental to customers.
However, now completed and well up and running, the outcome is a transformation.
They seem to have created more space and have added many new aisles (a little more upmarket). I gather sales are up 30 per cent, so it's a win-win situation. Queues at the cashiers are much longer, but they move pretty quickly.
Brian Hughes, Sheung Wan
Drink-driving jail terms are too short
Drink-driving has become a serious problem in our society.
Many people fail to consider what might happen if they get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence. This can have serious consequences for themselves and for other people.
The fact is that driving under the influence impairs your judgment, especially in terms of speed and distance from other vehicles.
Your reactions slow down and your co-ordination is compromised. In other words, all the skills one needs in order to drive a car in a safe manner are absent in a drunk driver.
They are putting other people at risk by their actions. If there is an accident and some else is hurt then the drunk driver will suffer from physical pain and guilt. This has implications for society as a whole.
All drivers must learn to act more responsibly and get into the habit of leaving their car if they have been drinking and either using public transport or catching taxis home.
The government, for its part, needs to impose stiffer penalties. I would like to see the maximum penalties of HK$25,000 in fines and three years' imprisonment raised.
The period of imprisonment should be increased to five years. Drivers will keep driving while drunk if they consider that the penalties they face are too light.
I would also like to see the courts being able to hand down lifetime bans for anyone found guilty of drink-driving.
Angel So, Kwun Tong
Guns OK for personal protection
There is an ongoing debate about gun laws in the United States following the fatal shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut in December.
However, I can see a case for those in the US who argue that people should be entitled to own guns.
I think it is acceptable for people to have guns for their own defence.
They might feel they faced potential danger if they had to hand in their guns but criminals could continue to have access to firearms, albeit illegally.
People who own a gun for their own defence feel it puts them on a level footing with the criminal who may be seeking to harm them.
A complete ban, which some may wish for, would, in effect, mean that it was the criminal who had a monopoly of these weapons and this would surely put more ordinary citizens at risk.
I am sure there are many people living in remote areas of the country who will feel safer knowing that they have a firearm in their home.
Iris Ma, Kwun Tong