Letters to the Editor, June 2, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 June, 2013, 3:59am

Make recycling key strategy in war on waste

I refer to the report ("Rubbish is now a burning issue", May 21).

First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to the government for its courage and vision in finally coming up with plans to tackle waste.

An aggressive target has been set - a 40 per cent reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfills by 2022.

I do think that a waste charge will be an effective means of bringing down the amount of waste generated. People will definitely think twice before they dispose or consume.

Such a levy is bound to meet strong opposition from various local politicians, but I urge the government to be persistent in making it happen as this can help combat the source of waste generation.

While the blueprint is detailed in tackling waste for households, it has failed to spell out any plans for tackling it in the business sector.

It is worthwhile working out a plan specifically for corporations' waste reduction, since people in our workforce spend most of their day-time hours in offices during the week, generating a lot of waste.

Reducing the amount of waste produced in offices will make a substantial contribution to the success of any campaign to cut waste throughout the city.

Collaboration between the business sector and government could take varying forms, such as a waste charge, or the government teaming corporations with recycling companies, or tax incentives for corporations that actively engage in recycling efforts.

It should also be noted that waste can be more easily collected and separated in office buildings than waste generated by households because the process is more centralised.

The government blueprint pointed out that waste is a "grave problem" in Hong Kong, something we have to tackle.

While this is true by all means, the paper does not acknowledge the economic benefit of recycling.

Assistance from the government could help expand the recycling industry, which could create employment opportunities and contribute to the sustainable growth of the city.

Andy Cheng Pak-Fai, Quarry Bay


HSBC should reassure over ATM fears

A number of letters have appeared in these columns in response to the report ("HSBC ATM cards less usable overseas", May 12).

Your correspondents described their own experiences related to this issue.

It appears that in one of the most industrialised countries of Europe, France, HSBC ATM cards are routinely rejected. Other countries, such as New Zealand, were also mentioned. This situation beggars belief and is a cause for concern.

As a shareholder I am worried because it can only be a matter of time before there is a mass exodus from the bank. If clients cannot withdraw their own money overseas, what is the point of banking with HSBC?

Of concern at this juncture is that my 17-year-old daughter will shortly go to spend more than a month in the United States and Canada. She will take some cash but, for safety reasons, will not take enough for the whole stay.

I am expecting her to withdraw more money using her ATM card.

We have been advised that it is not a good idea for a person of her age to carry a credit card, so she will be relying on her ATM card.

If it is not accepted then she could have a serious problem.

Would HSBC please reassure us that her card will be accepted and also reassure all interested parties that this whole ridiculous business will be taken care of as soon as possible?

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay


Scheduling drama needs forbearance

I refer to the letter by Beatriz Taylor ("TV stations failing to offer anything new", May 13), commenting on the broadcasting arrangements for the drama series Downton Abbey on TVB Pearl.

We hope viewers would appreciate that different programme distributors have different sets of terms and conditions.

As far as Downton Abbey is concerned, it is the best and earliest possible schedule we could arrange during prime time.

Winnie Ho, assistant controller, corporate and community relations department, Television Broadcasts Limited


Hi-tech tools a blessing and a curse

I am writing to express my opinion about the unprecedented popularity of digital products.

Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of people's lives. Wherever they go, the gadgets are always in their hands and have their undivided attention.

This culture has spread like wildfire, and our youths and children are well aware of the multi-functions of the gadgets.

Undeniably, smartphones and tablets have several upsides, even if the users are at a young age.

Firstly, they are a great form of entertainment. You cannot carry a bag with your favourite toys around with when you go out, but these lightweight gadgets provide a diversity of choices to amuse children. Secondly, educational applications with online reading and teaching material can help children learn at their own pace. Thirdly, use of these tools makes children more familiar with the hi-tech products that are now essential to communication.

Nevertheless, many opponents of digital products point out that they can undermine children's lives physically and mentally. Statistics show that children who use smartphones or tablets for long periods are at risk of suffering short-sightedness and astigmatism when they grow up. Bad posture could also result in scoliosis.

Worse still, the long-term use of such products obstructs face-to-face interaction, human touch and collaborative learning. Children could easily become unsociable and this hinders interpersonal development.

In addition, children may squander most of their time on the smartphone once they are addicted. They cease to have a motivation for learning and this has a negative impact on their academic studies.

Digital products are a double-edged sword, and the deciding factor should be when is the ideal time for parents to let their children use them. Their effects depend on a child's personality, level of self-control and analytical skills.

Experts suggest those aged 15 or above are sufficiently mature to use digital products appropriately.

I believe it does more harm than good for children to use these gadgets at an early age.

Heidi Chau Hoi-yi, Tsuen Wan


HKU wrong to remove grass playing field

I can see how it happens, the destruction of a rainforest.

Over the past couple of weeks the University of Hong Kong has been running an enlightening and disturbing demonstration of how easy it is to sacrifice the environment.

I have learned that all you need is some "private" land, so that you can say, "This is ours, we can do what we like with it because we are not building on it." A person in a bulldozer just gets on with clearing the land, no matter what, avoiding all discussion on the subject.

One of the two remaining real grass ovals (I wonder how many of them are left in Hong Kong) at HKU's Stanley Ho Sports Centre in Pok Fu Lam is being stripped of its grass, soil, worms and egrets and is being laid with fake grass. This started two weeks ago.

There has been no consultation in this matter. Users found out what was planned only when ground staff answered a query as to why the oval had been closed.

There has been no subsequent response to requests for discussions, and, there is plenty to discuss. Shame on you, HKU.

Where is the responsible educator of tomorrow's leaders which stands up to make Hong Kong a cleaner place. Obviously it's a case of "not on our turf".

A. O'Regan, Pok Fu Lam


Ugly, intrusive tree labelling spoils view

Since the death of a girl hit by a falling tree in Stanley in 2008 the Hong Kong government has been putting a great deal of effort into preventing such incidents happening again. The first step was to set up a Tree Management Office in the Development Bureau.

This office set out to survey and label all trees of considerable size throughout Hong Kong, to facilitate better future monitoring of their health and viability, to help predict any threat to public safety.

However, the office has been doing the job of tree labelling in an ugly way. They simply use a big, white sheet of paper, laminated with a transparent plastic sheet, tied to every tree on the roadside. These labels can be easily seen, even from a distance.

With a lot of trees on the roadside, this practice has destroyed the attractiveness of the scene.

I drive along Clear Water Bay Road near Tseng Lan Shue daily and I am disturbed by this ugly view.

Of course, this happens all over Hong Kong, not only in Tseng Lan Shue.

It would be better to use smaller, green labels that match the colour of the trees, and to tie them neatly.

I hope the Tree Management Office will take note of my comments and suggestion.

Szeto Wing-kin, Diamond Hill