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Letters to the Editor, June 24, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 3:35am

Glossing over US record in East Asia

Hilton Cheong-Leen describes how he was so inspired by Henry Kissinger's seminar 45 years ago ("Universal franchise in HK can strengthen Sino-US relationship", June 20).

He goes on to say that his dreams have been fulfilled by seeing the two leaders of China and US to "meet on equal terms and make the world a more livable and happier place for all mankind".

At this time when the US is getting a worse media bashing than the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the most prominent personality on the world stage - Edward Snowden - had to secretly leave the US in fear of his life, why is so much of Mr Cheong-Leen's letter based on his obvious admiration of Kissinger, whilst silent on the benefit to China and the world, of Mr Snowden's revelations of the US's Illegal, if not criminal, communications hacking?

Mr Cheong-Leen hopes he will be around to see the Hong Kong government "elected by universal franchise".

Well, if and when that day comes to pass and if his political idol Kissinger is still around, he shall be unable to accept Mr Cheong-Leen's invitation to attend the celebrations in Hong Kong due to Kissinger's part in the carpet bombing of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam war.

One more reason for Kissinger never to visit Hong Kong is that he would be subject to arrest - citizens' or otherwise - as the bombing was a crime against humanity.

Hilton Cheong-Leen and Henry Kissinger: strange bedfellows.

John Charleston, Tuen Mun


Landfills not only solution to our waste

In response to a reader's criticism of Hong Kong's waste management strategy ("Unjustified criticism of waste disposal", June 21), the undersecretary for the environment, Christine Loh Kung-wai, argues that constructing more waste-treatment facilities, such as waste-to-energy incinerators, and expansion of existing landfills are the only options to transform our waste practices.

As a policy analyst and someone who works closely with the environmental industry, I would argue that this is simply a popular fallacy that drives people into believing that expanding our three existing landfills is the only way to solve our waste-management crisis.

Just look at how New York city deals with its waste. The city does not deal with its waste within the city boundary, but send it to its less populated neighbours for landfill or incineration.

New York city takes on this strategy mainly because it yields three stunning benefits. First, land in the metropolitan area can be saved for dire needs such as affordable housing, park land and office space.

Secondly, there are more jobs and revenue for the neighbouring cities as a result of the influx of waste.

Finally, the city has lower garbage fees from maximising the usage of existing waste-treatment facilities.

We have that luxury in Hong Kong, too. Our not-so-distant neighbour, Shenzhen, has incinerators that are not fully utilised. The facility operators over there certainly want our waste for more revenue.

And from a legal perspective, it is legitimate to send our waste to Shenzhen to be incinerated.

The Basel Convention, the treaty that governs the transportation of waste internationally, states only that our waste could not exported to other countries.

Since Shenzhen and Hong Kong are technically under the same sovereignty, sending waste to Shenzhen therefore is not part of this restriction.

Tim Lo, Tseung Kwan O


Protect Sai Kung from development

Time slows down like Salvador Dali's painting The Persistence of Memory whenever I come to Sai Kung. Andrew Maxwell is correct to proclaim the government's plan to renovate Sai Kung as paving the way for big business ("SMEs saving Sai Kung from big business", June 20). Don't touch Sai Kung unless it cries.

Sai Kung is full of natural beauty, country parks and many unnamed little white-sand beaches good enough for holiday-makers and scuba-divers to spend a day without pollution. It also has the Jockey Club's Kau Sai Chau golf club, is surrounded by many small islands and countless clear-water ponds greeted with a picturesque sunset every day. Dinner in any one of the small restaurants in town is very economical and cosy.

Apart from the aforementioned attractions, the access roads to Sai Kung - though narrow - are much safer compared with those leading to the beaches and country parks on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, such as Repulse Bay, Stanley, Shek O and Chung Hum Kok.

Those access roads are also narrow, but filled with many sharp bends on top of cliffs like something out of a James Bond movie. Looks like these dangerous roads more desperately need widening than Sai Kung to protect residents and visitors.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling


Airport needs improved air traffic control

I am concerned about poor air traffic control at Hong Kong International Airport.

Those who travel a lot and are frequent users of the airport may have noticed constant delays sometimes for up to an hour when approaching Hong Kong because the weather is only slightly less than perfect. Things are worse during typhoons. Chaos at Chek Lap Kok lasts for days after the typhoon has left. Some passengers have no choice but to sleep on the floor at the airport terminal.

Japan gets more severe typhoons, but very often at its airports everything is back to normal a few hours after the typhoon.

A few years ago, experienced expatriate air traffic controllers were let go at the airport. Many of their replacements were young Hongkongers who lacked experience.

It is important to have local staff who can grasp the highly complicated art of air traffic control, but there will be problems if you do not have enough staff who can match the experience of the expats who have gone. This leads to the delays I talked of and this can costly for local carriers with a lot of aircraft landing here, as holding airplanes at low altitude burns significantly more fuel.

Also, having aircraft unnecessarily burning a large amount of fuel above our heads is certainly not environmentally acceptable.

The Japanese transport authority now oversees a fuel-efficient approach by air traffic controllers. The Airport Authority in Hong Kong should take note of this and take a long hard look at its cost.

Yuki Nozaki, Lantau


A wish list for roads on Lantau Island

Given the tragic death recently of a motorcyclist in Lantau, I have a wish list for transport officials who are responsible for Lantau.

A massive banner should be erected across the road in Tung Chung as people enter the restricted road area.

The banner should say: "You are entering the countryside. Relax and enjoy the scenery. That's why you are driving here.

"There are hazards. You have buffalo and cows sharing the road with you and errant dogs running out from houses. So sit back, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy."

These officials must ensure that road surfaces are tidied up, especially on corners. The potholes and seams left over from road work are dangerous for motorbikes.

I for one would be happy for some of my taxes to be spent on a contingent from the Transport Department to fly to New Zealand to check out their road signs.

The country has an outstanding record when it comes to coaching its drivers on etiquette, safe driving and the obligatory signs for speed.

Hong Kong drivers would learn an enormous amount.

They seem to forget much of what they learned the moment they pass their driving test.

Carol Adcock, Lantau


West needs to curb its own aggression

I think M.C. Basquejo needs to stop drinking the National Security Agency's Kool-Aid ("Self-centred Snowden no kind of hero", June 21).

It seems the writer has built up a whole character of Edward Snowden based on a few bits of tittle-tattle.

If living with your mother, playing computer games, viewing anime, having the latest gadgets and changing jobs frequently is how we now judge whether someone is a good human being or not, then half of Hong Kong must be feeling a little uncomfortable right now.

M.C. Basquejo seems to just want to believe gossip.

Perhaps he or she ought to consider what it takes to make such a momentous and dangerous decision.

I think it takes qualities of self-sacrifice, compassion and bravery - traits highly respected in democracies and in heroes.

Presumably your correspondent thinks that it is alright to spy on our online lives - if it protects us from terrorism (which the West has largely brought on itself - found any weapons of mass destruction recently?).

However, Prism didn't protect us from the Boston bombers or Lee Rigby from his assailant - so we lose our privacy, but still have terrorism.

Perhaps the West should stop invading other countries and then we all might enjoy greater security.

Gareth Jones, North Point


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This article is now closed to comments

@Carol Adcock, Lantau

Regarding your banner that you propose should read "You are entering the countryside. Relax and enjoy the scenery. That's why you are driving here. There are hazards. You have buffalo and cows sharing the road with you and errant dogs running out from houses. So sit back, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy."

Quite a message. It would probably take 10 successive banners to fit all that. Another 10 banners for the Chinese version. At night, we will have to light them up with spotlights for them to be legible.

I am sure that will not distract people from driving at all. Completely safe. And it will of course solve the problem entirely, because we all know that all people do as told immediately and with complete obedience. Especially on the road, as is shown by the complete absence of road rule violations in the universe known to mankind.

Banners are a much better plan than just getting the bloody cows off the road, obviously.
re captam:
because it makes sense to both hong kong (hk) and shenzhen (sz). in sz, the price of treating one tonne of waste using incinerator is about 90 hkd and many of their incinerator operators are crying about how little of a margin they get for dealing with the local's trash. hk on the other hand costs over 500 hkd to deal with one tonne of trash. if hk pays sz something in the middle, say 300 hkd, chances are hk could lower their trash bill and not have to expand landfill, while sz incinerator can get more profit. a win-win for both parties.
now you could argue that hk could build her own incinerator too. but note, building an incinerator in hk isn't quite friendly to the environment because it would require land reclamation that could potentially destroy marine life. furthermore, incinerators create pollutants that harm people's health. as there will be 40 incinerators within the pearl river delta region that are slated for operation within the next 2-3 years. why would hk want to build 1 more incinerator to get all the pollutants in everyone's faces and worsen our own air quality?
@Yuki Nozaki, Lantau

While you might have a point, I am afraid your comparison with Japan misses any validity. Japan's busiest airport, Narita, handles less than 200,000 flight movements a year with two runways. Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport handles almost double the number of movements, at 350,000 per year, and that with a single runway.

Those are enormous differences in capacity and level of activity, and those matter greatly when dealing with bad weather, delays and their aftermath.

Hong Kong Airport may well be able to improve the way it handles these things, but pointing anecdotically at Japan claiming they do better is not a valid argument.
Re: sending our waste to Shenzhen
One might make a similar argument about putting Hong Kong's third airport terminal at the Shenzhen airport and extending the airport express to T3. Govt keeps talking about integrating with the Pearl River Delta; let's see tangible ideas that benefit both sides.
I have a better idea. Let Shenzhen send their waste to a new land fill in Hong Kong. Happy Valley would be a good location for giant smelly hole.
Why the hxxx should Shenzhen become a dumping ground for selfish Hongkongers?
Tim Lo omits one important adjective regarding the transboundary transportation of waste + that is 'hazardous'.
"Aware also that transboundary movements of such wastes from the State of their generation to any other State should be permitted only when conducted under conditions which do not endanger human health + the environment, + under conditions in conformity with the provisions
of this Convention
Y46 Wastes collected from households"
Under the treaty consenting parties can trade in non hazardous waste. Hong Kong and Macau are listed under China as parties.
Europe has 7 million tonnes incineration capacity , however only 1.5m feedstocks due to effective recycling legislation hence MSW is a commodity in Europe. Their overcapacity system was setup to burn MSW to generate heat and electricity for the grid. Netherlands and Germany import waste from many countries in Europe + from afar to keep their burners operational. Oslo announced willingness to buy MSW from USA; so GIVE THEM OURS + in the meantime bring in new plasma + bio digester tech to reverse mine our landfills. New York City will have mandatory waste food disposal legislation by 2015 covering the food industry + Mayor Bloomberg specifically excluded incineration from the City's waste solution policy + current tender.
dynamco, thank you for your comment. the point i am trying to make is how we could alleviate the need of expanding our own landfill while utilizing existing methods available. shenzhen is definitely one option. honestly, transportation of waste endangers human health no matter where you ship them to. since that will always remain a problem, shouldn't we start looking at how we deal with trash in a more economical and less socially destructive manner? in that case, utilizing shenzhen existing incinerators that are away from residential zones might not be a bad idea after all. -Tim


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