Letters to the Editor, July 13, 2013
Start a crisis to prompt action on waste tide
I congratulate Michael Chugani for his insightful observations in his column Public Eye ("Council's stance is simply garbage", June 26). Finally, we have someone telling it like it is.
Unfortunately, we are already drowning in rubbish in Luen Wo Hui near Fanling.
Household rubbish is disposed of at and around street bins or simply cast into the gutters. The stacks of household waste attract scavengers who sort and spread it.
Without our heroic street cleaners, who are shielding residents from the reality of the looming crisis, the Nimbys would finally see the situation for what it is - dire.
Chugani is quite right when he suggests that the crisis is the only thing that will jolt Hong Kong people out of their blinkered state of denial.
Just how deep-seated this blind indifference towards rubbish has become is aptly displayed by young people who blithely litter their basketball courts, football pitches and schools. A change in thinking or a call to action is certainly not going to come from this quarter.
People who love Hong Kong and fear for its future need to precipitate the crisis.
Let us encourage our street cleaners to strike (agent provocateurs). As Chugani points out, the smell of decaying garbage in the streets has a habit of focusing the mind.
The environment secretary, Wong Kam-sing, needs to instruct his bureau to start implementing the HK$1,500 fines, which are designed to deter the dumping of household rubbish in our streets.
My requests for information regarding the number of offence notices and fines collected have been met with stoney silence. One suspects the silence indicates nothing to report. Money also has a habit of focusing the mind in Hong Kong and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is negligent in the extreme by not enforcing its own by-laws.
Logic and common sense are simply not going to work, and in the absence of any decisive leadership from the government, the current situation will only be remedied by crisis.
Paul Brownlie, Fanling
HK needs not one but three incinerators
I would like to add to Alex Woo's excellent letter ("Incineration a key part of a responsible waste disposal system", June 29) and your editorial ("The rubbish of a waste policy", June 25).
To add to your correspondent's Nimby comments, in metropolitan Tokyo there is an incinerator in each of its wards, covering a population of 13 million.
Choosing a single site for one incinerator is a poor policy.
Legislators should accept that we will need at least three, for Hong Kong Island and west and east Kowloon.
I do not understand why industrial solid waste and glass are being dumped in landfills, when there is so much water surrounding Hong Kong. Why isn't it being used for reclamation or just dumped in designated areas at sea? This would extend the life of the existing landfills.
Finally, why are Friends of the Earth or the green groups not putting forward these ideas to legislators and executive councillors? It would appear they are poorly informed or just not interested in this important issue.
J. R. Paine, Tai Hang
Tax tycoons to fund universal retirement goal
At a recent edition of RTHK's City Forum, it was suggested that raising tax rates for rich and privileged businessmen would be an appropriate way to help fund a universal retirement scheme.
I fully agree with this proposal which, I believe, was previously proposed by the pan-democrats.
I'm afraid, however, the government of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will hesitate before implementing such a measure, for fear, like his two predecessors, of offending rich entrepreneurs.
If he is sincere about tackling the financial difficulties many of our citizens experience, he should put his wholehearted supported behind such a proposal.
If he did this, I would hope the opposition parties would give their full co-operation so that he could achieve this goal without facing political obstacles.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
Basic rights for all - so long as we agree?
The appointment of Professor Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon as president of Lingnan University has drawn a fierce attack from some students, who say he does not endorse academic freedom, and he is a fan of the chief executive.
Yet the critics have not been able to cite one example of how Professor Cheng had infringed academic freedom. Instead, they claimed he supported Article 23 (which he has denied), and the introduction of national education.
Article 23 [on national security] is part of the Basic Law, just like Article 45 [universal suffrage]. The Article 23 Concern Group (later Civic Party), an opponent of Article 23 during the 2003 debate, said it was not against the legislation but against the process.
National education per se is nothing evil. The Fresh Fish Traders' School has done a good job teaching the subject, which opponents have not been able to find fault with.
Most importantly, we always say in Hong Kong we are against political screening and emphasise the importance of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Isn't it contrary to those beliefs if someone is denied the position of president of a university only because he has his own views and he is seen as pro-government? July 1 marked the anniversary of the end of colonial rule in Hong Kong. Yet, not everyone celebrated. Those who decided to march had the right to do so.
By the same token, those who organised a show and those who performed at it should not be criticised.
We should ask ourselves whether we genuinely stand by our core values, or we believe only those who are like-minded are entitled to some basic rights.
Susan Chan, secretary general, Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong
Pour concrete on countryside only for homes
I am opposed to the commercial development of some of the more remote areas of Hong Kong, including the building of shopping malls, to ease overcrowding in congested areas such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.
The needs of local citizens should be the priority and we have a lot of malls already which all look the same. The government's priorities must be more public housing and a better living environment.
Any available land should be used for more homes.
Li Tik-sze, Ma On Shan
Direct action to help polluters see the light
More attention is now being drawn to the problem of light pollution in Hong Kong and many letters have appeared in these columns about it.
Some correspondents have urged the government to pass a law restricting the light intensity of advertising hoardings and maybe even ban lights from remaining switched on in office buildings after midnight.
However, I have lost confidence in the ability of this administration to deal with the city's environmental problems, including land and light pollution. It does not seem able to come up with effective measures.
Instead, I think it is up to companies to take responsibility and play their part in helping to protect the environment through the adoption of eco-friendly practices.
To give an example, in Mong Kok there is a large LED screen promoting the services of Citibank.
If you go there at night, the ground underneath it is so bright it feels like it is still daytime. I just feel having such a large, brightly lit screen is an irresponsible act by this company.
The images and words on the screen are constantly changing. This has to affect the sleep of some residents in apartments near the sign.
Because of this, I will not use this bank's services. These firms have to adopt a policy of corporate responsibility and stop shutting out our beautiful night sky.
Louis Lo, Tsz Wan Shan
An end, please to golf's great land grab
A book written early in the 20th century, commenting about golf, said that "to play golf is to spoil an otherwise enjoyable walk". I could not agree more.
I can think of no other "sport" (a recognised definition of a sport is an activity necessitating the wearing of special clothing, which golf does not) which requires so much valuable space to give pleasure to so few.
The government, in its wisdom, turned the popular orienteering island of Kau Sai Chau into three municipal golf courses.
I would argue that this should be sufficient for a city so short of space for housing and other more widely practised recreational and sporting activities, and that private golf courses on leased land should be phased out.
I would make an exception for the historic Hong Kong Open course at Fanling provided that better public use is made of the other courses there. That said, I remain grateful to the Hong Kong Golf Club for allowing the Police Athletics Club and others to use the land for a cross-country running competition for the past 30 years or more.
Guy Shirra, Sai Kung