Hong Kong air pollution

Letters to the Editor, April 12, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:07pm

Private cars must follow clean air rules

I welcome the promising seven-year clean-air plan released by the government, especially the proposal for low-emission zones for franchised buses. However, the range should be expanded to private cars too.

Franchised bus companies have replaced their old buses in recent years. However, the wish to own an environmentally friendly car is not strong among motorists, and few measures have been taken to curb emissions from private cars.

Enforcing lower emission standards for private cars is necessary to get car owners to make changes.

Private cars, along with buses and commercial vehicles, have a big impact on air quality. It lowers the effectiveness of strategies to tackle air pollution if private cars are not part of the clean-air plan and made to observe low emission zones.

Every road user should be treated equally on the issue of air pollution, whereas strategies proposed by the government have targeted trucks and vans as well as franchised buses, but not private cars. The unfairness of this is obvious.

Including private cars in low-emission zones will encourage drivers to use environmentally friendly cars more effectively than by reducing taxes on low-emission vehicles.

Economic development in Hong Kong, an increasing standard of living, and greater integration and road links with the mainland can only lead to more private cars on our roads.

Exempting private cars from low-emissions requirements is not realistic if the government is going to improve the air standard of Hong Kong.

Eva Yau Tsz-yan, Kwai Chung


Mainland selfishness risks disaster

With the experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome, China did not learn from her mistakes. In 2003, Sars broke out on the mainland, which was not reported to the World Health Organisation immediately. Many countries blamed China for its selfishness. Some even said the mainland bore responsibility for the serious threat of the spread of Sars.

Now, not having learnt the lesson, China makes the same mistake again. While people were dying from H7N9 infection, China procrastinated for three weeks before revealing the outbreak.

It's so irresponsible to conceal this spread of infection, just to protect economic stability. People's lives are always far more important than wealth. An apparently minor decision like this can lead to a huge problem - allowing disease to spread out of control. People worldwide would then be infected, threatening high mortality.

The impression given by China to the outside world is not always positive nowadays. If China wants to change this image, the government has to take steps to be considerate and act more ethically, for example to think more carefully about the needs and rights of others in a health alert .

Meanwhile I hope the spread of H7N9 can be stopped as soon as possible.

Rachel Wong Wing To, Kwai Chung


Thatcher a towering world leader

The death of Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century (1979-1990), marks the passing of one of the towering leaders of Britain and the world. She was strong, with the courage of her convictions and put her beliefs into action.

She transformed Britain from a socialist pattern of society to a free market economy through privatisation, mobilising the power of the middle classes in business and trade.

She played a pivotal role along with US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in ending the cold war.

And she was a woman of courage and integrity. Despite attacks on her life, she did not waver from her policies. She narrowly escaped an IRA bombing in 1984. Next day she adhered to her itinerary.

Far-sighted, she realised China's growing importance and built bridges.

The daughter of a simple grocer, she was a fierce patriot and believer in individual freedom and enterprise. Her leadership was characterised by a strong vision for Britain, clarity in her views and an endeavour to transform society.

It is distressing that eventually her own party dethroned her. However, her legacy of building a strong and independent Britain inspires Britons even now, 23 years after she relinquished office. In the history of Britain, she will be as revered as Sir Winston Churchill. She enjoyed global respect.

In an age when politicians are doubted and often abhorred, Mrs Thatcher is esteemed, even by some of those who disagreed with her policies and style of management. Compared to her, many contemporary politicians seem men of straw.

On arriving to take up residence at 10 Downing Street for the first time, Mrs Thatcher proclaimed in a paraphrase of the Prayer of Saint Francis: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

In her own life and career, Mrs Thatcher tried to live by these words.

Rajendra K. Aneja, Dubai


Good riddance to architect of greed cult

Shame and damnation on Thatcher! And on Mark Peaker, too, who was wrong in claiming that Thatcher prized "the success of Britain for all its citizens" ("Thatcher not only changed UK, but world", April 10).

When she caused the demise of Britain as an industrial and manufacturing nation, Thatcher deprived entire communities of work. She made no attempt to help people recover by encouraging the growth of new industries, particularly in the north of England.

In yesterday's British newspaper, The Guardian, we were reminded that, "Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free."

Let us not forget that she called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, because he was the leader of the African National Congress, the organisation that opposed apartheid in South Africa. Thatcher was a great friend of General Augusto Pinochet, whose 1973 military coup in Chile caused the torture, deaths and disappearance of thousands of people, not to mention the suicide of the Chilean president, Salvador Allende, the world's first democratically elected Marxist. She was also friendly with Saddam Hussein and Ronald Reagan.

The idea of not speaking ill of the dead is quite absurd, so good riddance to her! A great pity that I could not have been in Brixton or Glasgow to attend street parties that celebrated Thatcher's departure from this world.

Michael Waugh, Cheung Chau


PCCW price rise raises big questions

This week I responded to a letter from PCCW asking me to renew my broadband and Now TV contract for two years at a discount price of HK$268 per month, instead of HK$298 per month without a contract. I accepted thinking this was a good deal, but when I checked my previous statement I found I had been paying only HK$185 up to now, meaning an increase of more than 44 per cent.

I called PCCW and was told the increase was due to service costs. I was offered a HK$600 Wellcome voucher to offset some of the increase, but with a two-year contract that would still mean an increase of 28 per cent. I declined and cancelled the new contract. So I am now on a month-to-month contract paying 61 per cent more than last month until I can find a suitable alternative.

How can PCCW be allowed to increase their prices by such a large amount? If my company raised its prices by 44 per cent we would go out of business!

Peter Cawthorne, Tai Po Kau


Stereotyping makes for a man's world

All praise to John Leicester for his thoughtful piece about marketing companies using scantily clad girls to sell sports events ("Does sport truly need 'eye candy'?" April 8).

Pretty females have long been used to sell everything from cars to flats to underwear. This obviously provides some women with employment, but it also reinforces the fact that males continue to treat females like commodities.

Never mind that more women these days have been able to pursue serious professions and occasionally become political figures, but it will always be a man's world so long as women continue to be regarded as only good for the kitchen, the bedroom and to provide entertainment for the macho majority.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau


Bring Lantau airport taxi queue into line

I was wondering why the airport fails to manage or regulate their Lantau taxi queue. Unlike the well managed queues for Urban (red) and New Territories (green) taxis, the Lantau (blue) taxi queue is an unregulated queue jumper's charter leaving arriving passengers with ill feelings and offers a poor welcome to Hong Kong.

Telephone bookings should not be picking up passengers from bays designated to service a taxi queue.

I hope HKIA starts to proactively manage the Lantau taxi queue in the same efficient and fair way that it regulates its other taxi queues.

Hugh Brown, Lantau