Letters to the Editor, June 9, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 9:22am

Women key to success of green crusade

Hong Kong citizens are becoming increasingly involved in environmental issues. This is a welcome, healthy trend since if "Hong Kong is our home", as the authorities like to depict it, we have to take better care of it.

Unfortunately, our political scene is dominated by business interests and "functional constituencies" whose main interest is money. Like their admired partners on the mainland, they prefer passive citizens who ignore their steady assault on our air, night sky, and environmental health.

History teaches us that people in power eventually become callous and indifferent to people's needs; they cannot adapt to changing realities, nor can they read the handwriting on the wall. Sooner or later, they are replaced by concerned citizens with more progressive ideas.

Both men and women are needed in this struggle to maintain our environment, but women are especially needed because of their rising economic power. However, Hong Kong and mainland women should be alert to a very crafty tactic used by the male-dominated corporate world. It is intended to get women so preoccupied with buying things that they fail to see the increasing damage caused by such a culture of consumerism.

Since women do most of the household, clothing, cosmetic and furniture buying, corporate advertising is aimed at women with money to spend.

Advertisers encourage women to engage in status-symbol competition with other women.

They have to possess the latest fashions, handbags, lingerie, cosmetics, hairstyles, holidays and other expensive goods.

The result? Enormous expenditure on frivolous items that end up in the rubbish bin, but which have wasted resources and caused unnecessary carbon emissions in manufacturing, transport, sales and disposal.

Businessmen welcome this as a boost for gross domestic product; future generations will call us environmental philistines as our children struggle to survive in a damaged world.

Are any feminist groups concerned about this issue? Or is looking good and having things more important than our long-term health?

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po


Service return a winner with promoters

I refer to the letter by Brian C. Catton, ("Tennis Association no match for privateers in game of risk", May 26).

The Hong Kong Tennis Association is currently in the process of issuing an open tender to reputable professional event management companies to operate the WTA Hong Kong Open, to be held in September next year.

In fact, we already have quite a few local and international companies expressing their interest.

Bally Bang, executive director, Hong Kong Tennis Association


Mock-grass arena idea one that will fly

I refer to the letter by A. O'Regan ("HKU wrong to remove grass playing field", June 2).

The decision to convert the grass pitch (Pitch 4) at Stanley Ho Sports Centre to an artificial surface was a lengthy one and not taken lightly. As an educator of tomorrow's leaders, the University of Hong Kong is committed not only to protecting our environment through sustainable development, but also to providing appropriate sport and exercise opportunities for its students. Our pitches, with the exception of Pitch 4, have long been overcrowded during peak hours.

This is especially so for Pitch 2, where both softball and hockey often must be played at the same time, raising serious safety issues. A sports facility usage survey of student opinions in 2011 exposed the insufficiency of provision of sports facilities. Introduction of the new four-year curriculum, which brings with it a larger student body, has exacerbated the space shortage problem.

Pitch 4 is not a well-groomed pitch and it is easily compromised by Hong Kong's weather conditions, rendering it unusable for long periods and literally only "for the birds". Therefore, it is our intention to modify this pitch to be suitable for sports such as softball.

The university is fully aware of the environmental advantage of natural grass. The current decision was made after exploring a number of alternatives and taking into account the constraints imposed by shortages of space and funding as well as the safety of our users. The university is also conscious of the need to minimise its impact on the environment when doing the conversion.

More trees will be planted to expand the green cover in the vicinity of the new pitch, to offset removal of the grass; and a much larger area of natural grass, Pitch 3, will remain intact. It is the university's sincere hope that the users and the egrets will continue to use the facility in natural harmony.

Professor Richard Masters, director, Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong


TV football dissent could kick off unrest

I have just been informed by Now Broadband that if I want to watch English Premier League (EPL) football next season, I will have to upgrade my sports channel package at a cost of an additional HK$160.

Not only that, but I will have to sign a new two-year contract, despite the fact that my current one doesn't expire for almost a year, bringing my monthly fee to more than HK$500.

Three years ago, when Now lost the right to show EPL matches, the company did not react to this situation by reducing affected subscribers' bills by HK$160 for the remainder of the contract, so why can't they include EPL coverage until current contracts are due for renewal?

Last time I had almost a year left on my contract and I was informed I had to continue paying the full price on pain of having to pay a financial penalty for cancelling.

When is the government going to intervene and stop big business doing exactly what it wants to cheat the Hong Kong public?

The road to social unrest is paved with many grievances, and though it pales in comparison with unaffordable housing, cage homes, protection of vested interests and government/business collusion, this kind of contempt for the public provides a daily reminder that we are continually being fleeced by the favoured few.

We should not forget that the Star Ferry riots kicked off over a 5 cent fare increase.

Raymond Day, Discovery Bay


Deck stacked when choosing cruises

I refer to the report ("Fire cripples Caribbean cruise liner", May 29) about the luxury liner Grandeur of the Seas.

The ship is operated by Royal Caribbean International. In November 2010, I went on a cruise from Hong Kong to Taiwan on another of the company's liners, called Legend of the Seas.

However, I was not impressed by my voyage. The interior of the ship looked tired. There was nothing of interest in the duty-free shop except the usual ship souvenirs. Also, the staff were not very friendly. They gave me the impression they were there simply because it was their job, rather than because they wanted to serve the passengers with a smile. I decided I wouldn't sail with Royal Caribbean International again. On my return to Hong Kong it took about an hour to go through immigration and customs.

By contrast, when I sailed with my family on Star Cruises we disembarked and there was no wait, because customs and immigration officials did their checks on board the ship before it docked at Ocean Terminal.

During our Star Cruises trip passengers could sit back and relax, or do all the shopping they wanted. You could even purchase a gold bar on board. The ship's crew were very friendly.

There have been a number of incidents involving cruise ships, such as the Costa Concordia which ran aground off Tuscany in 2012, killing 32 people; and the Carnival Triumph, which lost power following an engine room fire during a four-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. However, I read a report claiming Star had the safest cruise ships in the world.

Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay


Legislation vital to reduce light pollution

I agree with those who have called for legislation to control light pollution in Hong Kong.

There are some external lights that do not need to stay switched on late at night. It is just a waste of electricity. If they are not needed they should be switched off. If legislation is needed to make this happen then so be it. The government should ensure it is implemented by Legco.

This kind of pollution can adversely affect people's health and officials must recognise that this is an important issue.

Some people living in areas where bright lights at night are a particular problem may have trouble sleeping. This could affect their productivity at work.

Even if some lights are switched off tourists will still shop at night. It is all about reaching a consensus and striking the right balance, so there must be consultation with all stakeholders.

Jack Kan, Tai Wai