Letters to the Editor, March 2, 2013
Creativity can help container homes work
I disagree with the letters by Cherry Yau ("Containers are not suitable living spaces", February 26) and Lau On-yin ("Another from of substandard housing", February 26).
Your correspondents have summarily dismissed this idea, but should try to think out of the box, as it does hold merit. Firstly I would much prefer to live in a standard six-metre container than in a caged dwelling or coffin-sized bed space, no matter the location.
It is normal that containers are adopted as site offices in the construction industry. And they are readily available for conversion to living quarters, as any visit to the New Territories will readily confirm.
Indeed, the adaptation of shipping containers to residential purposes could kill two birds with one stone: cleaning up the appalling container litter, and giving a fast supply of much-needed accommodation, so that our city's notorious and atrocious caged homes can be cleared. Containers are modular and it is possible to assemble them to make attractive properties.
They do not have to be considered as just utilitarian. There is no doubt that architects must now be innovative and design living spaces on a smaller scale by multi-use of areas.
In London recently, unused garages have been interestingly adapted for accommodation with a floor area of only 11 square metres, much smaller than a standard-sized shipping container.
The Housing Department together with the Hong Kong Institute of Architects could arrange a competition for the architectural departments of our universities to design a project to insulate and ventilate, lay out and fit out, and landscape a comprehensive housing scheme based on the innovative use of containers.
Perhaps one of our tycoons would donate from their vast New Territories land banks so that the winning project could be built as a pilot scheme.
And perhaps such use of containers is a way forward in resolving the outmoded small-house policy.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Young don't want to live under flyovers
Young people in Hong Kong who can find a high-paid job will not have to worry about whether or not they can afford the daily necessities of life.
But for many citizens faced with an increasing inflation rate, it will be difficult to afford any housing.
One pressure group has proposed converting shipping containers into living accommodation to help meet some of the demand for housing ("Campaign to bridge housing gap", February 15).
The idea of Underneath Flyover Action is to provide homes for young people.
However, as a young person, I have to say I would not want to live in a shipping container under a flyover, which was full of speeding vehicles.
Young people work hard to graduate and want to contribute to society and it is unfair that most of them cannot afford decent housing in Hong Kong.
It would not be a healthy environment to live in, with the traffic, nor would it be hygienic given that the container residents would not have proper toilets, kitchens or rooms.
They would have to use portable toilets and eat out every day. Disease could easily spread in such a disgusting living environment.
This is not a feasible solution to the housing problem and would probably make people even more dissatisfied.
Carol Li Wing-sum, Ma On Shan
Reid paid debt and should be left in peace
I would like to voice my opinion regarding your report on Warwick Reid and his story ("Fury at legal firm of corrupt prosecutor", February 15).
I am disgusted this has been brought up after decades.
Warwick made a mistake; we are all human. It is what we do. He has served his time and now has moved on to become a role model for his family and learned his lesson.
Bringing up someone's past is like a vendetta against them and is like trying to make them serve a sentence over again. There are people out there who may deserve such treatment, but Warwick Reid is not one of them.
Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos wants to make sure no one forgets about the case and thinks it is "astonishing" Warwick is allowed to offer legal advice. However, in the report ("First offenders deserve leniency, says prosecutor", December 24), Mr Zervos said, "It is important to give a person a second chance and not to break their spirit."
Well, he should realise that Warwick has set up a small business to help local people with legal matters. He has in fact helped a lot of people in our local community of Tauranga along with his daughter Cassie.
Warwick is not allowed to practise law, something he is extremely talented at, and I believe this is his way of giving back and he is not harming anyone.
There are bigger problems in the world than holding on to a vendetta against someone. I suggest that those people who feel the need to victimise others should use their time and energy on this earth more wisely.
Jasmin Bracken, Tauranga, New Zealand
Recycling glass bottles in city impractical
Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing has said that he hopes the proposed levy on glass bottles will help recover 70 per cent of glass waste through recycling.
Importers and distributors of bottled drinks will need to pay HK$1 per one-litre bottle.
However, glass accounts for only 3 per cent of total waste dumped in landfills.
Also, glass bottles are difficult to recycle as they are heavier than plastic and aluminium drinks containers.
Glass is fragile, which makes transporting empty bottles difficult. Used bottles have to be cleaned before they can be recycled, but this will prove difficult if they are broken while being transported.
Also, citizens who have broken bottles will not take these fragments to recycling points, so they will just end up in our landfills.
In addition, Hong Kong has no well-developed glass recycling industry.
I would also question the HK$1 tax. I think it is likely that the cost of administering the collection of this levy will be more than the money collected from the importers and distributors who have to pay it. I believe this is what has happened with the plastic bag levy.
The government must stop playing tricks with regard to environmental issues.
The best way to tackle Hong Kong's waste problems is to build incinerators. The government should allocate funds to research incinerator technology and work out the best ways to ensure the gas generated by burning waste is less toxic.
Timothy Gan, Tuen Mun
Process will ensure best traffic solution
We thank Terry Scott for his support for our efforts to ease traffic congestion at the road harbour crossings, in particular the Cross-Harbour Tunnel ("Why the long wait for traffic solutions?" February 19).
We would like to reassure Mr Scott that we are pressing ahead as quickly and resolutely as we can. We very much hope that the three-month public consultation on proposed measures to improve the traffic distribution among the road harbour crossings, which will end on May 7, will give us a clear sense of the community's preferred way forward.
With that, we can discuss with the Eastern Harbour Tunnel's franchisee on the implementation details regarding the proposed reimbursement arrangement, and make legislative amendments to effect a Cross-Harbour Tunnel toll adjustment. We will also need to seek funding approval from Legco.
Taking into account the time required for these procedures, the new measure could be implemented only in the second half of 2014. That said, we will do our best to advance the timetable, if possible.
We hope that the public will give us the necessary support to enable us to effectively respond to an increasingly urgent traffic and environmental issue.
Patrick Chan, deputy secretary for transport and housing (transport)
Pragmatism putting brake on progress
The budget has come around again. Déjà vu, in that temporary, short-term measures fill its pages. Why can't Hong Kong carry out long-term planning?
In my opinion, it is because one of the city's core values is "pragmatism".
Pragmatism is a hindrance to this, for if one leans towards wherever the wind blows (that is, be reactive, therefore pragmatic), there is no time for reflection and preparedness for that once-in-a-lifetime storm.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Border trade zone would ease tension
The problem of parallel traders has widened the rift between Hong Kong citizens and mainlanders in the city.
Sheung Shui has been a black spot and this has led to blocked access for commuters at the MTR station and a generally unpleasant environment.
The government's imposition of a quota of cans of milk powder will help to calm things down. Also, I would like to see a shopping district near the border set up for visitors with individual visit scheme permits.
Zita Choi, Lam Tin