Letters to the Editor, April 16, 2013
Strange silence on right of abode ruling
I am saddened that not one of the pan-democratic political parties of Hong Kong, nor any one of our pro-democracy leaders and personalities, have, apparently, commented on the recent Court of Final Appeal ruling regarding right of abode for foreign domestic helpers.
While clearly the court's ruling cannot legally be challenged further, I believe that commenting on this ruling is not inappropriate.
In my view, while legally beyond challenge, this ruling is unjust, affecting adversely, as it does, a number of foreign domestic helpers who have spent many years of their lives working in Hong Kong. But what do the pan-democratic parties think of this? Nothing, it would appear.
Or if they do, they are keeping quiet, as the cause of the foreign domestic helpers to gain right of abode in Hong Kong is, apparently, not a popular one with the people of Hong Kong. Shame on the political parties in the city and on the people of Hong Kong who don't speak out.
I would like to hear the views of the pan-democratic parties on this and of Hongkongers.
At the same time, why are the pan-democratic political parties here not putting pressure on the SAR government to cancel the "advisory" against visiting the Philippines?
It is ridiculous to keep this in force now, and is clearly a political rather than a security issue. So why aren't they pushing to have this lifted? Again, probably because this may not be popular with the people of Hong Kong.
Shame on these political parties and on Hong Kong citizens.
John Shannon, Mid-Levels
More must be done to control flu outbreak
During the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, at one point, the mainland authorities were accused of trying to conceal how serious the problem was, despite the fact that people were dying.
This raised questions about the transparency of officials and the need for up-to-date reports when there is a crisis like this. Health ministry officials need to be more sensitive about the need to keep the public informed.
This is particularly important now, because of the spread of H7N9 bird flu, including to the capital ("Beijing girl confirmed with bird flu", April 14).
Clearly this is a matter of concern to Hong Kong citizens. There is still no indication yet of human-to-human transmission. However, with a holiday period next month, the Hong Kong government should be alert to the risk of the flu spreading and infecting Hongkongers.
I hope a vaccine can be found and feel the World Health Organisation can help in this regard.
It is important to stop it spreading and becoming a nationwide problem.
The mainland authorities need to ensure better standards of hygiene.
The Hong Kong Immigration Department should undertake whatever checks are deemed necessary at border control points.
Ada Fong Yu-nga, Kwai Chung
Calls to scrap nuclear plants unrealistic
Japan is still suffering from the effects of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant on March 11, 2011, following a tsunami.
Officials and local residents remain concerned about the radiation released from the nuclear power station and the disaster and its aftermath continue to attract worldwide attention.
In nearby Taiwan, there has been growing opposition to the use of nuclear power because of what happened in Japan.
Many Taiwanese are worried about the risks involved in building more of these plants, if there was an accident and a leak of radiation.
We have to realise that we face an energy crisis. It is important to find developing forms of energy and governments need to invest in the development of safer sources of energy. But it will be a long and hard process.
However, I think those people who urge governments to abandon the use of nuclear power altogether are being unrealistic.
What we should do is to try and minimise our energy consumption in our daily lives.
What is required is to raise levels of public awareness so that people recognise the importance of conserving energy and protecting the environment.
Helen Chan Hoi-yin, Tai Kok Tsui
Why we now need modern incinerators
An increased chance of collisions at sea should not be a reason to oppose the proposed incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau, therefore, I must disagree with R. E. J. Bunker's opinion ("Incinerator will raise risk of collisions", April 13).
Citing data from the Environmental Protection Department, I would like to point out that the three strategic landfills in Hong Kong will be overwhelmed by the escalating amount of waste generated by citizens in less than 10 years.
What Hong Kong currently needs is an effective, viable solution to handle the waste, and an incinerator will serve this purpose.
Gain is always coupled with loss. An expanding landfill occupies land, recycling waste takes time to be widely accepted by the public, so should the government sit and wait while hoping the rubbish will disappear overnight? Undoubtedly no.
The Shek Kwu Chau site was proposed after a prudent, detailed investigation conducted by professionals, which would have minimal effect on nearby residents.
Instead of raising the spectre of more collisions, these accidents should be considered as a reminder for the government to try harder to better regulate marine traffic after the construction of the incinerator plant.
Anyone with a good understanding of modern, advanced incinerators would know that pollution would not be a problem if this plant was constructed.
The concentration of pollutants (including carcinogenic ones) released by advanced incinerators is so low that they can hardly cause any damage to people.
This has been proved to be the case in countries in the region which already use incinerators, such as Taiwan and Japan.
The decision whether or not to build an incinerator should be based purely on necessity.
If we really need it, then the cost should not be a factor.
We do not want to end up in a situation where refuse is being dumped on our streets.
Waste management is a pressing issue in Hong Kong and we must arrive at a prompt solution.
Opposing the incinerator proposal because of fears of collisions at sea is a short-sighted view to take.
Oliver Lam, Lam Tin
Finest prime minister of 20th century
I refer to the letters by Michael Waugh ("Good riddance to architect of greed cult", April 12) and Andrew Goatly ("Iron Lady's endless litany of infamy", April 13). They failed to acknowledge the fact of Britain's collapse as a viable economy in the 1970s.
Margaret Thatcher confronted the endemic and sometimes violent hegemony of trade union interests that were the main, but not sole, reason for Britain's decline as an industrial power after the war. The UK was in very serious and deep-rooted economic trouble long before her election as prime minister.
Her government's reform of labour regulation resulted in the creation of new jobs and industries that would have been either unthinkable, still-born or suffocated under the preceding Callaghan, Heath and Wilson administrations.
Her legacy is that, finally, the UK these days is more aware that it must live within its means if it is to sustain an apparatus of civilisation and to project any influence beyond its own borders.
All politicians are flawed, but Margaret Thatcher exhibited integrity and intellectual rigour at a time of gross moral turpitude in British politics.
In foreign affairs she maintained peace at a time of dangerous military escalation by the vicious police states of the Soviet bloc. In the case of Hong Kong the correctness of her realistic approach is self-evident in the security, freedom and relative prosperity we continue to enjoy here.
She was arguably the most important, and best, British prime minister of the 20th century and certainly superior to Winston Churchill.
Alexander Lush, Lantau
Idling engine ban law is not working
I refer to the letter by Edmond Ho of the Environmental Protection Department ("Two-pronged approach to idling engines", April 11), in reply to the letter by Johan Olausson ("So many drivers flout idling ban", March 28).
I have no idea where Mr Ho spends his time, but if he came to Kowloon City where I work, or Tai Wai where I live, he would see that the idling engine ban is an absolute failure.
He said last year 1,204 vehicles were timed by his department's law enforcement staff and all but seven turned off their engines in the allotted time. Those seven drivers received citations. So according to the department and Mr Ho, seven citations in a year shows they are doing their job? He has to be kidding. I could give seven tickets in a day.
The law is a joke. I wonder if the department really believes what it is saying. If it does, then we really are in trouble and our pollution problems will remain.
Terry Scott, Sha Tin