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Letters to the Editor, June 26, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 3:44am

Widespread waste charges are essential

Nowadays, it seems that all political parties oppose the landfill extension proposals, not just for Tseung Kwan O, but for the other districts.

The government seems stuck, partly through its own weakness, and it now faces strong opposition on environmental and other issues in society. However, discussions were more rational when former environment secretary Sarah Liao Sau-tung presented the 10-year Waste Reduction Framework Plan in 2005, where landfill extensions and incineration were included.

It received considerable acceptance from various stakeholders, as it was comprehensive, holistic approach to waste management that put the emphasis on policies that were likely to boost waste avoidance, coupled with the necessary end-of-pipe measures.

As a green group, Friends of the Earth (HK) understands the need for waste avoidance policies and waste treatment facilities to achieve holistic waste management.

But the government must act swiftly and do more in the area of waste avoidance instead of giving high-profile support for landfill extensions and incineration.

I visited Taipei City recently on a study trip focusing on waste management. There are many good practices that our government should learn from.

Taipei introduced legislation on waste charging by volume in 2000, and its government has subsidised waste recycling so that residential estates and commercial buildings can collect over 10 different types of recyclables. These subsidies are needed for recyclables with a low market value. The city authorities also employed workers to look after recycling facilities at housing estates every evening for three hours, to teach residents to dispose of various types of recyclables in collection bins.

To effectively tackle the big growth in waste in Hong Kong, the top priority should be waste charging for the whole society. Landfills are inevitable but in order to lengthen their lifespan and avoid future extensions, they should not accept waste that has not gone through certain treatment processes. If the waste is recyclable, it should be banned from landfills.

Only with these policies can we solve our critical waste problem.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director-general affairs, Friends of the Earth (HK)

 

No trucks needed to deliver waste

In his letter ("No denying this view of waste plan", June 14), John Steventon stated that a long bridge would be built from South Lantau to the island of Shek Kwu Chau for thousands of refuse trucks to deliver waste to the proposed integrated waste management facility.

This is untrue. No such bridge or trucks are needed. The municipal solid waste will be compacted into enclosed containers at the existing refuse transfer stations and the containers will be transported to the facility by marine vessels in a clean and efficient manner.

At present, this waste is delivered from the refuse transfer stations on Hong Kong Island and in West Kowloon by specialised vessels to the landfill for disposal. The Environmental Protection Department has 20 years' experience delivering containerised waste by sea efficiently without causing any littering problems or nuisance.

Mr Steventon was concerned about the smoke emissions from the waste management facility.

The emissions will fully comply with the internationally most stringent, European Union emission standards for modern waste incinerators.

Many such modern incinerators are being operated around the world. It will not cause any unacceptable environmental impacts.

We will set up an open and transparent monitoring system and provide the public with easy access to the emission monitoring data.

Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection

 

Dangerous precedent set over Snowden

As an American who has had the great fortune to visit and live in Hong Kong for a period of time, I am concerned for what I see as a slippery slope over Edward Snowden's departure.

However you view what Snowden did, you can't ignore the law or the spirit of good faith that countries enter into when dealing with diplomatic agreements.

The Hong Kong government says that, yes, it was aware of an extradition request but because of a paperwork issue, it couldn't detain him.

The decision to have no faith in your legal system, and take the casual "out" with clerical errors does not bode well. Today it's a foreign national, but what happens when a Hong Kong citizen finds he or she is in an awkward situation abroad and the government tries to help but is met with the same apathy or willingness to overlook the agreements the country has made with Hong Kong?

Actions determine your credibility in the world, whether as an individual or a people, and Hong Kong has now lost some of its credibility. When the politics of this is gone and the excitement of it is in the past, what will be remembered is the bad-faith act Hong Kong exhibited.

Lee Elliott, Fullerton, California, US

 

Government enhanced HK's reputation

Our much-maligned government acted with consummate professionalism in the way in which it handled Edward Snowden - both during his presence and in his departure.

Congratulations on a job well done enhancing Hong Kong's reputation as a place where the rule of law and freedom of speech are paramount.

David C. Parker, Pok Fu Lam

 

Praising loyal father of whistle-blower

I watched a television interview with Lonnie Snowden, the father of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

He said he wanted his son to be safe and happy and "I know you're your own man and you're going to do what you feel that you have to do".

I salute Mr Snowden for having such an extraordinary son who has spoken out because he is a man of principle.

I also salute him for being a loving father and not blaming his son over the leaking of state secrets. Although we are living on different sides of the world, I believe human beings hold some universal values no matter what our cultural roots are and what political system we adopt.

William L. Zhang, Singapore

 

'Secrets' pages help classes to interact

There has been a trend for school students to open "secrets" pages on Facebook.

Our school has followed suit and I welcome this online facility.

It is such a good idea as it provides a platform for pupils to share their views and learn more about the school.

Anyone can join and the confidential nature of the page allows people to frankly express their opinions. Sometimes, they just share views and memories.

It also enables people from different classes to talk to each other.

As students always want to know what is going on in their school, I think these Facebook pages will definitely grow in popularity.

Tsoi Wing-tung, Sheung Shui

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More on this story

Letters to the Editor, June 14, 2013
14 Jun 2013 - 12:00am

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This article is now closed to comments

impala
@ Lee Elliott, Fullerton, California, US

Congratulations, you now you have a thin sliver of an idea of how the rest of the world feels about Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, CIA 'black site' extraterritorial detention practices, lethal drone strikes in non-war zones, the unilateral way in which the US imposes immigration and airline security measures, the invasion of Iraq under false pretences, the continued refusal of the US to sign up for the ICC (or even just CEDAW for crying out loud!), and all the other ways the US has shown its utter disregard for international law or any form of rule-based cooperation over the past decades.

If we have to single out one country in the world that systematically ignores diplomatic, legal or other rules whenever it suits it, it would be the US. Right now, it is merely getting a tiny taste of its own medicine. And now the likes of you and the US government are digging up ye olde rulebook, kept in a dusty bottom drawer, and lament how regrettable it is the rest of the world doesn't want to play by the letter of the rules (anymore)... it is just laughable.
dynamco
"The emissions will fully comply with the internationally most stringent, European Union emission standards for modern waste incinerators."
I suggest Mr Blinkers Au and Legislators read these reports:
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412012002279
see what peer reviewed data from Spain states about living downwind of modern incinerators
www.ecomed.org.uk/content/IncineratorReport_v3.pdf
news.newclear.server279.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Incineratorhealthmatters.pdf
www.ipsnews.net/2013/05/pioneering-italian-town-leads-europe-in-waste-recycling/
Sell the MSW to Europe. It's a commodity there. They cannot get enough for their outdated E2W plants.
honkiepanky
Re: recycling and waste charges: these work in Taipei because residential buildings have ample space for accessible recycling bins. In HK, even "luxury" residential buildings have space only for a tiny garbage bin in the stairwell of each floor.
Like so many things in HK, the problem comes back to the government's long standing high land price/tiny living space policy.
mymak
David Parker why must you try to call a trick a victory. Yes, yes. yes. Very clever. But we all see it for what it is. Hong Kong hasn't improved its reputation, it's merely shown itself not to have any punching power in world affairs. Rather than take a position, rather than stand and fight for that position the HK Gov't has done what it does to us residents on an almost daily basis. Hiding behind words and prevaricating.
Does the HK Gov't support Snowden, who the h*** knows. They simply passed the hot potato.

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