Letters to the Editor, April 7, 2013
Fur farming for fashion is a brutal industry
I refer to the letter by Winnie Kwan ("Wearing fur is no worse than eating meat", March 31).
In some ways she is probably right. The global factory farming industry means that millions of animals are raised for food in what can only be described as inhumane conditions.
Similarly, the fur industry has a brutal track record and it prefers to keep consumers uninformed about how that divinely soft pelt on a designer coat, or the fluffy fur trim on a new jacket, was manufactured.
If more consumers knew that a large percentage of those furs came from animals who were skinned alive - many in fur factories throughout China - they may not be so eager to choose fur as a clothing option.
It is estimated that more than 50 million animals are violently killed in the name of fashion every year. Some are caught in barbaric traps. Others are raised in appalling conditions on fur farms before being skinned while still conscious.
So perhaps before complaining about animal activists protesting about the fur industry, the defenders of fur should pay a visit to a site such as YouTube and watch a video clip of a Chinese fur factory, at which point they may understand why fur farming is probably one of the most unconscionable industries in existence.
Margot Higgins, Mid-Levels
Laws should ban extreme brightness
Bright lights are prominent wherever you go on an evening walk in Tsim Sha Tsui, or if you go up to The Peak to view Victoria Harbour.
They light up the night sky and while they may look attractive to passers-by and a great selling point for tourists, they are a nuisance to residents of Tsim Sha Tsui. I think action must be taken to reduce this excessive level of lighting.
Some experts claim that Hong Kong is the worst place in the world for light pollution, with "levels in Tsim Sha Tsui 1,200 times brighter than a normal dark sky" ("Light pollution in HK 'worst on planet'", March 20).
This excessive light is a real problem for residents in the worst-affected areas. They may have difficulty getting a good night's sleep. Excessively bright lights can affect the body clock and cause illnesses such as depression.
We cannot allow such levels of brightness just to please tourists, to the detriment of our own citizens.
Unlike cities such as Sydney and London, Hong Kong has no regulations aimed at curbing light pollution, only voluntary guidelines.
Laws are needed which control the amount of time external lighting can stay switched on and which force the business sector to switch off non-essential lights.
Tessa Chan Jun Qiao, Sha Tin
The right solution for light pollution
Light pollution is a serious problem in Hong Kong. It is not only damaging the environment, but is also a waste of energy.
Experts talk about the health risks caused by changes to our body clock and yet these bright lights are seen as being important to some companies in the city.
The government is faced with the difficulty of striking the right balance so that the needs of all stakeholders are satisfied. How is it possible to do this?
I think officials must consult all stakeholders and ask them for their views on the extent of the problem and what solutions they would suggest.
For example, the views of residents who say that bright lights, such as billboards on nearby buildings, are affecting their health must be listened to and if necessary the lights should be switched off.
However, some companies might argue they should not be forced to switch off the lights, because their illuminated adverts attract the attention of tourists and their profits will be affected.
The administration must consider all options and come up with an acceptable solution.
Certainly, bright lights on buildings should be dimmed after midnight and the government should set a standard of brightness in the city.
Firms in Hong Kong could also be forced to use LED bulbs to save energy and help the environment.
Tsoi Huen, Ma On Shan
Low-priced lamps have hidden costs
As a lighting design director and someone who has been active in European lighting legislation, I can confirm that the legislation was driven initially by lamp manufacturers.
They have been pushed on to the back foot to some extent by campaigning organisations such as Greenpeace.
These groups have managed to force the legislation to be enacted much faster than lamp manufacturers in Europe have been able to respond to, and therefore almost all compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are now manufactured in China.
CFLs are without doubt a bad product.
The inclusion of the electronics necessary to make the lamps work excessively increases the environmental impact in respect of hazardous and non-recyclable elements. The pressure on price results in lower-quality components, leading to early failure and poor performance.
A significant proportion of the population do suffer a range of symptoms caused by CFL, LED and high-frequency fluorescent lighting.
These range from very obvious skin problems, and attacks being brought on or made worse for migraine sufferers by such lighting, to people who have exhibited other debilitating symptoms such as exhaustion, headaches, nausea and also confusion.
This last group are particularly affected and there is little effort to properly research their conditions.
At the end of the day most lighting research is conducted and paid for by the lamp industry. It does not wish to research negative aspects of the products it makes.
Kevan Shaw, Edinburgh, Scotland
Pro-Beijing tycoons don't walk the talk
Patriots, by definition and above all, love their country.
So why don't half the tycoons in Hong Kong live on the mainland, as they are supposed to be great patriots?
In fact, I don't see any one of them living on the mainland. It gets curiouser and curiouser.
David Tang Wing-cheung, Mid-Levels
Stop the sly trade in illegal moorings
I refer to the report ("Boat owners facing stormy waters", March 31).
While I appreciate the action taken by the Marine Department, I hope the government can also take action against those illegal moorings laid down by some people which are then let out.
Their acts deprive the government of revenue it would get when it allots spaces to boat owners and yacht clubs and then receives rent.
These illegal moorings have no marking buoy but are usually identified by a broken surfboard or a semi-submerged object that connects the mooring lines. They are laid among legal moorings which have been assigned to boat owners or yacht clubs by the Marine Department.
Therefore, they pose a danger to others, particularly during windy weather or typhoons. As I understand it, under the present legislation, the government has difficulty regulating this problem.
I urge the administration to step up enforcement of existing rules regarding boat lengths and ownership of moorings.
Action must also be taken to stop the letting out of illegal moorings turning into a big business one day.
Paul Yeung, Sai Kung
Share your umbrella and show you care
I was in Causeway Bay one day last month, on my way to sports training at the South China Athletic Association.
Suddenly there was a huge rainstorm and I couldn't resist hiding under a shelter and waiting until the rain stopped.
After 10 minutes I decided to ask someone if they could share their umbrella with me so that I could cross the road without getting soaked.
However, instead of agreeing to help me, he just snorted and walked away.
This made me very disappointed, and I am sure other people have had a similar experience when caught in the rain without an umbrella.
This incident highlighted for me the fact that many Hong Kong citizens find showing consideration for others quite difficult. They are only concerned about themselves and their own needs and do not seem to care about other people around them.
This is a problem in society and there should be more discussion of this issue on television, so that inconsiderate people can come to an understanding of how they should behave. Parents should also help in teaching their children to have the right attitude.
It is not that difficult to share your umbrella with someone. If attitudes changed, Hong Kong would be a much more pleasant place to live.
Adrian Kwok, Pok Fu Lam