Letters to the Editor, April 11, 2013
Incinerator will raise risk of collisions
The collision last Friday night between a Cheung Chau ferry and a barge off Hei Ling Chau was not unexpected, since this area is criss-crossed by many fast ferries to Macau and the islands, and slow-moving barge traffic. Fortunately, no one was killed, but this could have easily been as bad as last year's Lamma collision.
This danger will get much worse if the government proceeds with its foolish plan to build an incinerator and "integrated waste management facility" on Shek Kwu Chau. Thousands of tonnes of rubbish daily will be taken there on barges, then either burnt to pollute the atmosphere for all of Hong Kong, or split into recycling and (amazingly) shipped all the way back to Hong Kong.
All this will cause an exponential rise in barge movements, and vastly increase the risk of collisions.
Island residents have repeatedly pointed out to the government the dangers involved (and the cost and pollution), but they ignore these.
Hopefully the recent collision will shake some sense into the government.
R. E. J. Bunker, Mui Wo
You can't have too much bird flu vigilance
The authorities intend to intensify the inspections on poultry to keep deadly H7N9 virus at bay ("Bird flu scrutiny tighter on borders", April 6).
The government assures us that it would halt imports of mainland poultry and cull local poultry if infected birds are found in Hong Kong.
Health Secretary Ko Wing-man also stressed that live poultry were not imported from eastern China, where the virus has taken hold. These measures sound very reasonable.
I would welcome even greater vigilance. It would be extremely hard to tell if infected farms sneaked some of their livestock into "safe" provinces for export to Hong Kong to sell at a higher price. In doing so, the virus would be brought here.
The government should ban all live mainland poultry imports immediately, subject to review in future. More manpower could be devoted to inspecting local farms, wholesale and wet markets.
Culling hurts local farmers. Epidemics affect local economies. Hong Kong does not want or need another outbreak of new bird flu. So it is better to be safe than sorry.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should know better than go soft on disease control. His government can ride out storms over national education or grievances over milk powder smugglers, but not so an outbreak of H7N9bird flu.
Leung Ka Kit, Jordan
Dismayed by occupy Central academics
It is beyond belief and I am deeply dismayed that two local university professors, whose influence spreads beyond their institutions to the wider public, should call for a campaign of civil disobedience and for thousands to "occupy Central".
Civil disobedience implies a deliberate breaking of the law. A few months ago we saw the serious consequences of a minor attempt to block roads in Central. Those who remember will recall how the Star Ferry riots followed a small protest by one man in 1966, and years later riots in Mong Kok that began when a few taxis blocked road junctions in Yau Ma Tei.
What example are these professors giving to their students when they preach sanctimoniously about our core values? Are they not betraying their calling? Do those who seek to bring Hong Kong to a standstill really "love Hong Kong"?
The representative of our government in Beijing has spelt out in detail the steps to be taken, and followed, to elect the chief executive in 2017. Reasoned debate is what we should expect from our professors.
David Akers-Jones, West Kowloon
Tu wrongly slurs SE Asian democracies
Elsie Tu's statement that Filipinos and Indonesians, who have universal suffrage in their home countries, are told "at election times … to sell their votes and threatened if they fail to do so" needs correcting ("Some so-called democrats allow no views but their own", April 8)
I am a Filipino who was never threatened or ordered to sell my vote when I lived in my country, and as a worker in Hong Kong I have joined my compatriots during our orderly absentee voting exercises.
There may be occasional election-related violence in some areas of the Philippines, but it is no longer widespread. And my Indonesian friends tell me there is little violence now during their free elections.
Ms Tu's blanket statements about our countries shows her ignorance about the developing democracies in this region that are leading the way in showing China the benefits of freedom, something we hope Hong Kong will be granted by its repressive rulers in Beijing.
M.C. Basquejo, Causeway Bay
Two-pronged approach to idling engines
The Environmental Protection Department wishes to respond to your correspondent, Johan Olausson ("So many drivers flout idling ban", March 28).
The Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance took effect in December 2011. It prohibits drivers from running the engines of stationary vehicles for more than three minutes in any 60-minute period.
The department has been taking a two-pronged approach, involving enforcement and publicity, to help drivers foster the green driving habit of switching off idling engines.
As for the first half of this approach, traffic wardens will enforce the prohibition during their normal patrols. The department co-ordinates enforcement as well as publicity activities, particularly at locations where complaints against idling vehicles are received.
In addition, the department's publicity activities include distributing leaflets and posters, broadcasting reminders through television and radio stations, and displaying messages on parking metres, banners and bus shelters to urge drivers to switch off their vehicle engines while waiting.
Last year, the department's law enforcement staff, including traffic wardens and environmental protection inspectors, timed 1,204 vehicles with idling engines. All drivers except seven switched off their engines within three minutes when law enforcement staff started timing. The non-complying drivers each received fixed penalties of HK$320.
We assure Mr Olausson that we will continue to tackle the problem of idling vehicles with enforcement and publicity.
Edmond Ho, Environmental Protection Department
Lau muddles facts to distort HK realities
Lau Nai-keung, as usual, muddles the facts to distort reality on several fronts ("To understand Hong Kong, ignore the media echo chamber", March 29).
Referring to a South China Morning Post online poll in which 95 per cent of respondents believed that Hongkongers would favour reverting to British rule if given the chance, Lau dismissed the result as a "highly biased sample of English speakers".
Apparently, he is not aware that most Hongkongers have no difficulty understanding English. When the poll went viral, even those who were not habitual SCMP readers made their choice known. Believe me, 90 per cent out of the 95 per cent who chose "yes" were local Hongkongers, not expatriates.
Lau stated that people may have been led to believe that Hongkongers were, on the whole, against national education, yet parents wanted their children to learn Putonghua.
This was nothing but an attempt to mix chalk and cheese. Hongkongers objected to a biased curriculum. If the subject were taught with a balanced view of China's achievements that did not ignore its ugly side - corruption, pollution, suppression, to name just a few - then students could make their own informed opinions on the true China.
As for children learning Putonghua, this is plain pragmatism and has nothing to do with loving China.
Lau stated that the popularity of gourmet tours to China countered the view that food on the mainland was unsafe. Of course, there will always be adventurous foodies who don't mind risking their health by eating in China for just a few days.
It is in prolonged consumption, such as baby formula, where mainlanders have real health concerns about their food. Lau's "gourmet tour" argument is turned on its head by the sight of mainland mothers stocking up on more expensive but reliable milk powder in Hong Kong or abroad.
It is the reliability, quality and safety of products sold in Hong Kong - not our "hospitality" - that attracts thousands of mainland visitors to Hong Kong each day, as Lau claims.
Evelyn Mercedes, Central
N Korean rants vindicate US missile shield
North Korea's militarism is a good, perhaps urgent, reason for developing an anti-missile defence shield that the US planned to set up in four European Nato-member nations.
A ground-to-air anti-missile shield is very plausible. Note the success of the Patriot batteries stationed in Israel during Operation Desert Storm.
To those who complain such a defence system would be too costly: what price do you put on the earth and humanity?
Frank Sterle, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada