Letters to the Editor, May 5, 2013
Warning a wake-up call for unity
I read with interest what Zhang Dejiang, No 3 on the Communist Party's seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, said to the Business and Professionals Alliance delegation in Beijing on April 27 ("HK losing its competitive edge, Beijing warns", April 28). Wang said, "Hong Kong's competitive edge is weakening and will fade away if the city does not put its focus on economic development."
His statement is substantiated by a translated excerpt of a Wen Wei Po editorial published on April 29 (China Daily HK, April 30). The commentary said the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences had said in its annual report on urban competitiveness that Hong Kong was losing its competitive edge and could fall behind mainland cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
I believe Zhang made the statement with Hong Kong's best interests in mind, and it should be taken as a wake-up call for the SAR to be less divisive and more united from now on in order to strengthen our competitive advantage and remain China's No 1 international city.
Zhang's comment, that the coming three years would be crucial, as quoted by Alliance chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, also makes sense.
Our political and community leaders should put their differences aside and work with chief executive Leung Chun-ying and his team to, firstly, improve the living standards and quality of living of Hong Kong people, particularly the underprivileged, and plan ahead for the elderly.
Secondly, they should step up co-operation with business, professional, academic and other sectors, so that Hong Kong's economic development and competitiveness will keep pace with the challenges and opportunities arising from China's modernisation.
Thirdly, they should arrive at viable proposals for changes in the 2016 Legislative Council election and the 2017 chief executive election, acceptable to the central government.
These three steps are essential to the future competitiveness and sustainability of the Hong Kong SAR and should proceed at an accelerated pace.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan
Scots pound to thwart forex fortune hunt
I was delighted to read that money changers are now advertising acceptance of Scottish pounds and some even offering higher exchange rates than for sterling ("Scots find support in HK cash markets", April 28).
But my delight was tempered by the accompanying photograph showing the exchange counter at the Sheraton Hotel displaying a flag with a Greek cross instead of the Scottish flag - a white cross of St Andrew (a Saltire) on a blue background.
Regarding speculators accumulating the Scottish pound in the hope of benefiting from appreciation if the Scots vote for independence, I'm afraid their hopes will be dashed, as the current Scottish pounds are issued by commercial banks on the basis of a one-for-one linkage with sterling. Accordingly there is no scope for appreciation against sterling.
If, however, Scotland votes for independence then current planning by the Scottish government is to set up its own treasury but continue the link to sterling instead of adopting a new (unlinked) currency which would undoubtedly appreciate against sterling, weakened by its loss of backing from Scotland, not least very substantial oil and gas reserves - latest estimate US$ 2.2 trillion.
Appreciation of a new Scottish currency against sterling would not be in Scotland's interest because of its very considerable trade with the remainder of the UK, although the latter may favour a weakened sterling and resulting inflation to facilitate repayment of its massive debts.
Doug Miller, Tai Po
Encouraging steps along tolerance road
That was a very interesting cover story in PostMagazine about Indonesian and Filipino lesbians enjoying themselves on their days off ("Sunday girls", April 21). It was a well written piece with good photographs that showed how all these indentured women slaving in Hong Kong households combat loneliness and alienation.
It was also nice to be reminded that Filipino Benjie Caraig is the reigning Mr Gay Hong Kong, in a piece that also raised important issues for minorities ("The pink slip", April 23).
The acceptance of other nationalities and sexual orientations is the right step in making this tight little town a cosmopolitan city.
L. M. S. Valerio, Tin Hau
Take up cudgels in war on food waste
The problem of food waste is a very serious one in Hong Kong, since it comprises more than 30 per cent of our total municipal solid waste. We dump about 3,600 tonnes of food waste into Hong Kong's landfills every day.
For example, supermarkets dump food according to the due date on packaging, but, if stored properly, most of that discarded food is edible beyond its "best before" date.
Food from children's school lunch boxes, and other household-generated food waste is another major contributor.
All this organic waste ends up in Hong Kong landfills, already nearing capacity.
I appreciate the efforts of green groups that collect unwanted food and redistribute it to the needy, or recycle it as compost for organic fertiliser. The green groups also promote various activities aimed at encouraging a spirit of social consciousness, a sense that food is to treasure, and that we should all help reduce food waste.
However, there is only so much these groups and individuals can achieve on their own, gathering probably just a small proportion of the city's food waste. The government has an important role to play. Incinerators cannot solve the problem completely.
Hong Kong can learn from successful initiatives in waste charging and recycling in South Korea and Taiwan.
Waste charging - paying for waste - is needed here and the government should legislate to ban food waste dumped into landfills and work to collect it instead for reuse as fertiliser.
Education is also needed. I would like to see a change of attitude on the part of Hongkongers. They should treasure what they have and stop wasting food.
Leftovers can be reduced if we take and eat just what we need, whether at home or in a restaurant. Remember, supermarket food tagged "best before" is still safe to eat by that date if it is packaged well.
Ask for "less rice" when given more than you can eat, consider giving excess food to others, or donate it to volunteer groups or the needy.
Winnie Ip Wing-lam, Kwai Chung
Smartphone peer pressure rings changes
It seems that everyone but me has a smartphone. Last month, my mother offered to buy me one, and I turned her down. I have a cell phone and thought that was good enough.
I changed my mind after a subsequent experience concerning a school project. My classmates decided to communicate through WhatsApp. As the only one in my group without a smartphone, they had to specially send me the information via e-mail.
So I now think life is a bit inconvenient without a smartphone.
All my friends are persuading me to buy one. Yesterday I bumped into an old friend, who wanted to add me to her WhatsApp contacts so we could keep in touch easily. When she realised I didn't have a smartphone she was surprised and encouraged me to buy one.
I now realise a smartphone can speed up communications and strengthen social bonds.
Time for me to reconsider my mum's offer.
Kennis So, Kwai Chung
Dodo dos and don'ts miss the killer point
I read with interest your article, ("Should we resurrect the dodo even if we could?, April 28)". I believe that resurrecting extinct animals is a totally misconceived idea and that all our attention and resources should be focused on preserving the wildlife we still have.
As species become extinct our world becomes even less habitable for animals and people. We need to urgently address the threats to our future, the commercial demand (both legal and illegal) causing radical declines in the population of certain animals like tigers, sharks, elephants and fish.
The demand for supposed medicines with no more than a placebo effect, and "cultural" food delicacies may ultimately lead to our own extinction.
Who will resurrect us?
Raphael LaJeunesse, Sai Kung
Pumping up culture hub a big let-down
I refer to the piece in Lai See ("New cultural district to inflate interest with bouncy Stonehenge", April 24).
How deflated must West Kowloon Cultural District be as some of their bouncy castles have been punctured. It would appear M+ curator Lars Nittve's grandiose description, "monumentality, temporariness and permanence, as well as beauty and the grotesque" has indeed been achieved.
I wonder if pumps and a bicycle repair kit were included.
Mark Peaker, The Peak