Letters to the Editor, June 20, 2013
SMEs saving Sai Kung from big business
Sai Kung, like almost everywhere else in Hong Kong, is having to move with the times.
"Big Business" constantly threatens to engulf our home, but, thanks to the thriving small and medium-sized enterprises there, Sai Kung is keeping its head above water.
So, rather than wasting countless millions on unfathomable whims, such as the widening of Hiram's Highway, for example ("more roads, less congestion" - really?), why don't the government seize the opportunity and do more to help protect and preserve Sai Kung?
I'm not paid to think of ideas on how to achieve this (someone is!), but maybe pedestrianising Sai Kung town at weekends would be a good thing to do.
Sai Kung "old town", which is off limits to privately owned vehicles, is mobbed at weekends, and SMEs are doing a roaring trade.
If the rest of Sai Kung town were made a no-car zone on Saturdays and Sundays, I'm sure everyone here would be happier (bus drivers would be beaming from ear to ear).
All would be happier - except for visitors who come to Sai Kung in privately owned vehicles, that is.
So, as most visitors come from Kowloon side, why not build a big car park on Hiram's Highway and introduce a park-and-ride scheme here?
There has to be a solution to the worsening traffic problems Sai Kung is having to deal with, and maybe a park-and-ride would help, at least in the interim.
Andrew Maxwell, former chairman of Friends of Sai Kung
Consumerism a poor reward for Myanmar
It's a sad reflection on democracy that its headlined progress in hitherto autocratic Eastern countries is measured in terms of how quickly the mega corporations of the West are able to insert themselves into their economies.
Myanmar's leadership is at last loosening its grip. And here, predictably, comes Coca-Cola, charging back into the fray.
It used to be possible to buy fresh coconuts in bars and on beaches in the most popular resorts in Asia; there are palm trees everywhere you look.
But now it's as if no one's ever heard of them. From being available for cents, they have now been sidelined in favour of the usual canned concoctions of chemicals and water.
And why? Because these can be sold for about a hundred times more money. There's profit all down the line.
Shame about that, because coconuts are infinitely more tasty and refreshing than any of that manufactured rubbish.
But what vendor is going to fill his cool box with coconuts when the big corporations are booming their publicity spin to everyone?
Coca-Cola sells only because of the millions of dollars it has put into image and advertising. I've never once seen hot young things in bikinis and shades drinking anything natural, either on the beach or on the billboards and television screens.
How much will Coca-Cola spend on public relations in Myanmar, I wonder? Maybe that will depend on whether Pepsi tries to get back in.
Will the Burmese people learn to love Big Macs and fries as well?
Andy Smailes, Pok Fu Lam
No time for delay over waste crisis
I was disheartened to read that a group of environmental scientists support landfill expansion in Hong Kong ("Scholars support plan to expand landfill sites", June 18).
Why should we accept the government's waste strategy, which would take three to 10 years to put in place, and aim for only a 40 per cent cut in waste dumped in landfills by 2020?
We have a waste disposal crisis now and we need firm action now. We need to dramatically reduce our waste at source, not plan to expand landfills.
Here's what are needed: a big increase in the number and locations of recycling bins, all of which must include glass; more frequent emptying of recycling bins; more robust management of recycling personnel; more support for recycling plants; an increased and ongoing publicity drive and civic education.
The costs involved will not be significant compared to landfill expansions.
If the above suggestions are implemented, they will substantially reduce the amount of waste reaching our landfills and buy us time to put in place the longer-term solutions being discussed.
So, have we a champion in the Environmental Protection Department to take this on?
Patrick Wilson, Pok Fu Lam
MTR users led along path to nowhere
I'd like to award the operators of Langham Place shopping mall the prestigious award of "Dumbest Management on the Planet". I was trying to exit the mall at about 11pm via MTR. All the signs pointed down two levels of escalators to basement level 2, I think.
There was even a banner that said "This way to MTR via supermarket". On reaching level 2, the supermarket was closed, but there was still an illuminated sign above the shuttered supermarket door that read "MTR" in big letters.
Inevitably there was a steady stream of locals going down the escalators, then back up again, only to go outside onto the street to find the elusive MTR.
I'm sure the tourists coming out of Langham Place Hotel trying to find the MTR late at night are very impressed with "Asia's world city". Come on, guys, sort your signage out.
David Howarth, Kennedy Town
Action, not prayer, is the path to change
In reply to Patsy Leung's letter, "Religious faith the city's last comfort in troubled times" (June 8), if prayer is our only hope, we are in deep trouble indeed!
If prayer had ever been an effective strategy for change, we would live in a very different world from the one that we actually do.
If Ms Leung and the "thousands of members of congregations in churches in the city" really want change, they will need to get out of their churches and into the real world and actually do something tangible.
The concerted actions of people working together to bring about change is what actually works, and in this lies our only real hope for the future.
To paraphrase Einstein, "Hope for peace is easy, but ineffective".
Kerry Hasell, Fortress Hill
A correction is best way to cool real estate
I have a message for those bosses of the Big Four property agencies who will shortly be demonstrating against the government's cooling measures: since your main wish is for a rebound in transaction volumes, tell your agents that instead of talking the market "up" (prices are on an ever-upward trend; into the stratosphere and so on), tell them to talk the market "down".
The market zeitgeist will change, sellers will start off-loading, and, hey presto, transactions will return.
As they themselves never tire of telling us, there is plenty of pent-up demand.
The way to unleash it is with a price correction.
David Konn, Kwai Chung
The benefits of a shark fin ban outweigh costs
Some cities around the world are starting to ban the sale, distribution and possession of shark fins.
But Hong Kong and China cannot just suddenly stop consuming them. For instance, some older Chinese people view the consumption of shark fins as a right, and need time to change and accept such a restriction.
Huge resources are needed to reduce the import of shark fin, and huge costs are involved.
According to a report in this paper ("Petition aims to end city's shark fin trade", May 11), Hong Kong imported more than 10,200 tonnes of shark fin in 2011.
If there was a ban, the government's income would be affected and there would be a domino effect on top hotels and the economy.
The world's perception of shark fins' value is changing.
Due to the number of sharks dropping rapidly, diverse green groups are protesting and encouraging Hong Kong citizens to avoid killing sharks and consuming their fins in order to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.
The risk of extinction of sharks is high and will be more serious in the future.
Hong Kong and mainland China are the main consumers of shark fins as shark fin soup is popular at wedding banquets in traditional Chinese culture.
People in Hong Kong and China cannot go on ignoring the consequences of their habits.
But international organisations and people elsewhere are working to reduce demand.
For example, in Vancouver, one of its biggest Chinese restaurants was persuaded to drop shark fin from its menu.
So the world's awareness of the value of shark fin is changing, even as the ecological problem is getting serious. More are getting involved to address the problem.
In my view, the costs of a ban on shark fin are outweighed by the need to take action.
Sophia Lee, Tseung Kwan O