Letters to the Editor, April 18, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 3:18am

Food waste recycling scheme works

A subsidy from the government's Environment and Conservation Fund, a pilot food waste recycling scheme has been established, and my apartment in Discovery Bay is one of the participants.

Since being a member of the scheme, I have observed that the volume of waste that we throw away into the general rubbish has reduced for two reasons. The first reason is the obvious one: we now carry food waste to the special collection point instead of putting it into the kitchen bin. The second is less obvious.

Whereas previously the plastic bag in the kitchen bin, which is the last depository for all rubbish about to leave the apartment, used to be tied up and taken to the refuse room every day in order to avoid the smell, it is now taken out only when it is completely full - not more than once or twice a week. By this means, the total volume of waste going to the landfills will be reduced.

Of course I cannot assert that all households behave in the same way, but I would be interested to hear from your readers. Whatever the conclusions, I really do hope that the food waste recycling scheme can be expanded rapidly.

I was told that Hong Kong's public housing estates, where 50 per cent of our population lives, have no recycling programme of any kind - not even solid waste (paper, plastic, metal and glass). Is this true?

Colin Bosher, Discovery Bay


Sales ban on live poultry premature

People on both sides of the border are obviously concerned about the spread of the H7N9 flu virus on the mainland even though there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

There may be some people who would like to see a ban on the sale of all live poultry in wet markets.

However, I would not support such a move. I think we are at too early a stage and such a move should not be considered unless we are encountering large-scale infection. Also, there could be serious financial consequences if it was a long-term ban.

What is clearly important at this time is to take a preventive approach. All citizens should be careful when it comes to personal hygiene.

Katrina Cheung Ching-yu, Kwai Chung


Strengthen health checks of tourists

I refer to the letter from Leung Ka Kit ("You can't have too much bird flu vigilance", April 11).

Your correspondent suggests that the government should ban all live mainland poultry imports immediately.

Given that most of our poultry comes from north of the border, this idea is not really feasible. If more produce is imported from overseas, this will lead to an increase in prices.

I agree with the need for greater vigilance. The Immigration Department should deploy more manpower to border checkpoints to do health checks of tourists.

Can Chan Hoi-yin, Tsing Yi


Philippines well known for its violence

I regret that your correspondent, M. C. Basquejo ("Tu wrongly slurs SE Asian democracies", April 11), mistook my letter ("Some so-called democrats allow no views but their own", April 8) as a slur on Southeast Asian democracies.

I have good relationships with the Philippines and wish it and the other democracy alluded to, Indonesia, well.

My letter was intended to refer to lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing's endless call for "universal suffrage", which, she should notice, does not automatically provide welfare or justice for all the people.

Many other colonial-influenced countries in South America, Africa and Central Asia have similar problems.

Your correspondent may like to read the report ("Australian who ran Philippine resort shot dead", April 9), which pointed out that fatal killings were "common in the Philippines, where millions of unlicensed firearms are believed to be in circulation. Guns can be bought for just US$20."

It said that rights groups complain that those behind the killings "rarely face justice because of a corrupt police force and judiciary".

The present president of the Philippines is faced with a difficult job.

One can only hope that he can succeed.

Hong Kong should ensure that our future democracy will avoid the error of relying upon former colonial systems.

Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong


Stricter rules can ensure lifts are safer

I was glad to see the government responding quickly to last month's lift accident in North Point by announcing the setting up of the lift and escalator safety advisory committee.

In that accident, seven people were injured when the elevator plunged to the ground due to broken cables and its emergency brake failing. The company contracted to maintain the lift was suspended for six months, but the government was also blamed for having an inadequate monitoring process for lift safety.

Obviously there is room for improvement and I have a few suggestions for this new advisory body.

The government must ensure that its engineers who deal with lifts have the proper training and that they are regularly tested and given monthly performance checks. When issuing lift maintenance licences to an engineering company for the first time, the government should draw up stricter regulations. For example, the firm must prove that its workers have been trained to a certain professional standard and that it uses only good-quality material when, for example, replacing cables.

With these measures in place, officials can hopefully ensure that a comprehensive lift monitoring system is in place and this can reduce the chance of accidents.

Citizens are also responsible for their own safety. We must comply with the instructions stipulated in each lift when we use it.

For example, if the safety notice says that no more than 10 people should use the elevator, then we should all accept that rule and not overload it. Also, playing inside lifts should be prohibited.

People should also be aware of what to do when a lift malfunctions. It is important not to panic, but to stay focused. Hopefully, the emergency brake will kick in and the emergency alarm will be activated.

Also, if firemen are required to free people, those trapped in the lift should follow their instructions.

We must not take lift safety for granted. This is an issue which concerns us all.

Through a concerted effort I hope we will see a reduction in accidents.

Karen Tsoi, Tsuen Wan


Police working hard to tackle burglaries

I refer to Alberto Chan's letter ("Concerns over burglaries in Sai Kung", April 3).

Your correspondent was worried about the burglary problem in Sai Kung and Clear Water Bay.

I would like to reassure your readers that the police attach great importance to tackling all crimes, including burglary, in Hong Kong.

The police employ various preventive and proactive measures, for example, intelligence-led operations targeting specific locations and targets, crime prevention campaigns and reinforcing the police presence.

Equally important, the police work in close collaboration with the local community and in conjunction with district fight-crime committees to partner with members of the public to guard against crimes.

As regards the Sai Kung and Clear Water Bay areas, the police will continue their efforts to tackle burglary and other crimes with due note of their unique local circumstances.

Our local officers at Sai Kung police station (telephone 3661 1630) will be happy to offer further advice and assistance if required.

Eddie Wong Kwok-wai, chief superintendent, police public relations branch


Allocation system is now dysfunctional

There is considerable angst in the general community about the allocation of places in all types of schools in Hong Kong, particularly for Primary One admission.

It is very much a case of survival of the fittest and there is very little useful consideration for students who are not born and raised in Hong Kong with Chinese-speaking home environments.

It is a "system" that has become so complicated and socially unjust that it is now essentially dysfunctional.

Every family competes with each other.

The government responds to every crisis in the system - for example, the lack of Primary One places in the northern New Territories in the 2013-14 academic year - by adopting a piecemeal approach.

What is being done to comprehensively review, reform and simplify the so-called system?

A simple search of how Singapore, Taiwan and other similarly heterogeneous societies deal with the allocation of school places reveals systems which could positively influence Hong Kong.

Has anyone in power commissioned such a comparative study?

If not, why not? It is a no-brainer.

I am looking forward to reading a reply, through these columns, from the Education Bureau.

Patrick Gilbert, Fo Tan