Letters to the Editor, April 5, 2013
Disobedience is not in our city's interests
It is of great concern to note Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting's Occupy Central proposal, which advocates civil disobedience in case Beijing does not agree with the whims or insecurity of some political parties in Hong Kong.
Whoever goes along with such madness cannot possibly "love Hong Kong" let alone "love China".
The fact remains that we are and always will be part of China. This is clearly demonstrated by our solidarity with the motherland when dealing with international conflicts such as the Diaoyu Islands. This is fully expected and accepted, as it reflects a reality that we cannot run away from. Being a relatively small, even though important, part of China, we cannot possibly be permitted to act as an anarchic splinter group when we disagree with certain core principles.
We cannot overlook the fact that we are vulnerable if we push our luck too far and sacrifice the general freedom that we enjoy as law-abiding citizens, the general prosperity that many of us are blessed with and the safe and stable society that we live in. Our citizens are able to demonstrate, on a daily basis, to express discontent to our authorities and sharply criticise our chief executive without fear of repercussions.
Surely, all this cannot be taken for granted and we must never allow ourselves to commit economic suicide by following the irresponsible approach advocated by Dr Tai. It is a path that could easily become irreversible and have disastrous consequences for the whole community.
Hong Kong society has always been intelligent and pragmatic and will undoubtedly resolve the universal suffrage issue without sacrificing its prosperity and well-being.
Shalom Levy, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hongkongers are still aware of hygiene
I refer to the letter by Gong Hoi-ting ("Good hygiene habits are slipping in city", March 28).
The Sars outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003 led to a kind of hygiene revolution with the introduction of masks and surgical gloves.
People became more aware of the risk of infection spreading, thanks to an advertising blitz by the Hospital Authority at the early stages of the outbreak. This awareness is still evident at, for example, many fast food branches and street-level outlets selling roast pork, where staff often continue to wear masks and surgical gloves.
Many of our public libraries still have a supply of masks at their front counter for customers who are sick and you still see passengers who are ill wearing masks on public transport to try to prevent a spread of germs.
At upmarket restaurants you find alcohol hand sanitisers for diners, so I would have to disagree with your correspondent's claim that our level of hygiene awareness has been lowered.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
Biofuels must be part of any clean air plan
The government is to be commended on its collaborative plan to improve air quality (A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong).
I am surprised, however, there is no mention of the potential contribution to be made by biodiesel.
A 2008 report to Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) predicted reductions of 17 per cent in particulate matter, 8 per cent in non-methane volatile organic compounds and 23 per cent in carbon monoxide in a realistic scenario of biofuel uptake in the UK. Similar reductions were reported in a 2002 study by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The sulphur content of biodiesel is lower than ultra-low- sulphur diesel, and biodiesel produced from used cooking oil reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 87 per cent.
A very small increase in nitrogen oxides (0.5 per cent in the Defra report) is offset by these other benefits and can be mitigated with the use of selective catalytic reduction devices such as the government proposes in its plan.
For all these reasons, many countries in Asia and around the world have made the use of a biofuel blend mandatory.
Hong Kong has yet to follow their lead.
This year the local biodiesel industry will have the capacity to supply all the diesel vehicles on our roads with a 10 per cent blend of biodiesel (B10). But most of it will be exported to other markets where the demand is already well established by mandatory blending regulations.
Hong Kong needs all the help it can get to clean up its air quality and reduce its carbon emissions.
Locally produced biodiesel is one more tool that the government should harness by introducing mandatory blending regulations requiring its use.
Anthony Dixon, CEO, ASB Biodiesel (Hong Kong) Ltd
Islands conflict should be negotiated
The dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands has created a mood of apprehension.
There have been calls for negotiations and envoys from both countries have held discussions in an effort to cool heightened tensions that have led to fears of a possible conflict.
The dispute has already affected trade and tourism between the countries.
There is no justification for Tokyo or Beijing putting up barriers. They must sit down at the negotiating table as soon as possible.
Susanna Wong, Diamond Hill
More malls will lead to higher prices
There are two disadvantages to the proposal to build more shopping malls in Tung Chung.
Firstly, to meet the increased demand for housing, the government plans to build more public housing units in Tung Chung. If the proposal for a commercial zone is adopted and under it more shopping malls are needed, it could slow down the public housing projects.
With money, labour and other resources diverted, people could end up having a longer wait to get a public estate flat and this would lead to public discontent.
Secondly, there are already four shopping centres in Tung Chung and residents are complaining about expensive commodities and high rents. With more malls the economic development of this new town will accelerate and this can only lead to even higher prices. More than likely the malls will be monopolised by large chains.
However, there are historical sites there which can be promoted in an effort to attract tourists, such as the Hau Wong Temple, Tin Hau Temple and Tung Chung Battery.
Scarlet Wong, Sha Tin
Tainted food is root of trading problem
There has been a lot of debate about whether or not it was right to crack down on parallel traders.
If we understand why there was this demand in the first place for infant milk formula, it will enable us to look at the big picture.
As most readers will be aware, tainted food is a common problem on the mainland.
Consumers there are faced with the prospect of being sold fake food such as fake eggs and contaminated milk powder.
These tainted products pose a threat to people's health and the scandals have damaged the reputation of the mainland's food manufacturers.
Consequently, citizens over the border have lost faith in food sold there.
Also, with more multi-entry visas to Hong Kong having been issued in the last 10 years, it has been easier for many mainlanders to come here and buy what they want, including daily necessities such as milk formula.
I understand mainland mothers doing this, as they want the best for their children.
The Hong Kong government has had to strike a balance between mainlanders' requirements and ensuring local citizens are given priority.
The crackdown on parallel traders is a short-term measure needed to distinguish these traders from people buying for personal needs.
In the long term the administration needs to step up co-operation with authorities on the mainland.
Also, I hope Hongkongers and mainlanders can show tolerance and understanding over this issue.
Lena Lam Cheuk- wun, Sau Mau Ping
Unscrupulous agencies must be reined in
The incident where some mainland tourists were left stranded in Hong Kong without a hotel over Lunar New Year again highlighted the issue of unscrupulous and misleading sales practices in the tourism industry.
On this occasion the tourists had to sleep on a tour bus or book additional hotel rooms. They were clearly very angry about what had happened. One of them said she would never return to the city.
Hong Kong is a renowned shopping paradise, but a number of high-profile tourism scandals have tarnished its reputation.
Clearly there is an urgent need to bring in new legislation or amend existing laws to curb misleading sales practices. The courts must be allowed to impose heavier penalties on travel agencies convicted of such practices.
This will act as a powerful deterrent for those firms in the tourism sector.
Heidi Chau Hoi-yi, Tsuen Wan