• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 12:51pm

Clean Hong Kong campaign doomed to fail

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 1:23am

While it is laudable that top officials set a good example last Friday with the launch of the Hong Kong: Our Home cleaning campaign, most ordinary citizens will have just rolled their eyes ("Ministers sweep into hygiene roles", April 27).

They know that as soon as the officials put their spotless white T-shirts, new rubber gloves and dusters away, it will be business as usual.

We will never achieve a cleaner city while the current modus operandi of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, tasked with keeping our neighbourhoods clean, is allowed to continue.

For some unfathomable reason, the department's street patrols are all officers of the hawker control unit. They hang around with their arms folded, often on streets that have never had a hawker problem. Any approach made to them with regard to cleansing and hygiene issues is met with the "it's not our duty" response.

There are no regular officers checking on, for example, overflowing dustbins, items stored on pavements, hygiene problems in alleys, open dumpsters often close to restaurants, renovation work conducted without the required screens in place, and dripping air conditioners. Only in Hong Kong would shopkeepers be allowed to store dirty mops and buckets on a main thoroughfare like Nathan Road.

Also, the department has failed to curb the anti-social activities of smokers who flick ash all over the place and discard their cigarette butts everywhere. The officers make a point of steering clear of any smokers' corner. The supply of special cigarette butt bins is totally inadequate, so smokers gather around regular dustbins on busy junctions, forcing pedestrians to breathe in second-hand smoke while they wait to cross the street.

Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group has been suggesting for years that it is high time the role of the department's officers was reviewed. We need officers on our streets who can handle all issues related to general hygiene. If an officer cannot resolve the situation himself, he would alert the responsible department.

Not only does the new government publicity campaign achieve little, one can only surmise how much additional landfill the T-shirts, rubber gloves and other paraphernalia used once and then discarded have generated.

Handing out plastic bags with free products is another refuse generator.

When can we expect some practical and sustainable solutions from the government?

Paul Kumar, member, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group


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This article is now closed to comments

Street cleaning is easy job among those that pay min wages
Many morning trail walkers voluntarily sweep their habitual rest areas
When I pass by neighborhood buildings their cleaners happily greet me
as they sweep the street in front of their blocks
When Ah Fun, a responsible, pleasant and, yes
(think what you may about my remark)
pretty woman was the cleaner,
the area around Po Shan, Kotewall and Conduit was very clean
I walker a lot and know the streets very well
Good cleaners are invariably pleasant
probably because their work resembles outdoor exercises
But there are lazy ones with their gloomy and unhealthy look
who are getting over $200 an hour
as they are doing less than one tenth of the job they’re paid for
I support paying responsible workers more
But this discussion is not about how much we should pay street cleaners
Mr Kumar’s question is about work ethics
His letter has rightly drawn our attention to the lazy ones
I agree Hawker control officers are a Joke in Hong Kong. To be honest I have nothing against Hawkers and they seem well behaved and fairly popular with the public.
But I find it hilarious when you see 5-6 people with little cardboard boxes set up near Kowloon Bay MTR selling clothing, umbrellas etc... and many people buying. Then someone walks by and tells the hawkers to close up and they fold their boxes. Then 3 Hawker offices stroll by chitchatting and not even paying attention (lazy asses). Then after they pass the sellers open up their boxes again.
It would be even funnier if we did not pay these officers a good government salary.
Street cleaners you can somewhat accept as they are very very poorly paid compared to officers and their role is very hard. If we want cleaner streets then either we pay them more of hire more. To be honest if we paid street sweepers more then I would be happy to complain. And I am sure street sweepers if they received a 50% salary increase would be happy to hear our complaints. Right now they do not deserve complaints because we underpay them.
Thank you Mr Kumar
for doing us such a much needed and valuable service
I’d recommend the suspension of all health inspectors
for flagrant negligence in their paid duties
The problems of your complaint are conspicuous and everywhere
How responsible officials could ignore them is a bureaucratic puzzle
Once I talked to an overseer (street sweepers’ supervisor)
In Cantonese about Conduit Road which was part of his portfolio
but he kept moving me back to Caine Road
The only officer who seems capable of some help
is the Contract Officer
So much about out sourcing public services
Contractors outsourcing real supervision work to the public
who may soon have to the cleaning job ourselves
real work and not just for show like the ministers'
My in tray is full and piling up
But it’s almost 9
and I need to start calling people about problems and troubles awaiting solutions


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