Letters to the Editor, July 21, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 3:24am


We need to be serious about tackling waste

I have seen government adverts on television which repeat the slogan; "Reduce waste at source."

The slogan may sound catchy, but it would appear to come in one ear and go out the other when it comes to the vast majority of Hong Kong's seven million citizens.

The uproar over the expansion of our landfills, which according to officials will reach capacity within this decade, has me wondering if the Hong Kong people and their government are really looking at, and understanding, the bigger picture.

I unequivocally believe the answer is a resounding "no".

Let's look at the facts:

  • Our landfills will be full very soon;
  • Hongkongers do not want to expand them; and
  • Tuen Mun residents feel it isn't fair that the landfill there must expand while the one in Tseung Kwan O does not.

No one really knows what to do, so citizens and elected officials just protest and point fingers.

When it comes to reducing waste at source, how many people can honestly say that they recycled their styrofoam takeout dinner containers from last night? Did you recycle your plastic drink bottle today?

Styrofoam does not decompose and releases toxic styrene.

If people simply throw away their MTR free newspaper in the bin instead of finding a recycling receptacle, then they have no right to complain as they are part of the problem.

Instead of protesting and complaining people need to start asking questions.

They need to ask if there really are enough recycling receptacles in Hong Kong.

Is our recycling being separated and taken care of properly?

Can there be some monetary incentive for those who do choose to recycle, thereby adhering to the government's plan to "reduce waste at source"?

We must be mindful of the choices we make every day and how we dispose of our waste.

People have to ask themselves if they are part of the problem, or part of the solution to Hong Kong's imminent waste crisis.

Nick Anderson, North Point


Blue marlin catch was just small fry

I refer to the comments on the report about the 226kg blue marlin caught in Hong Kong waters (" 'Once in a lifetime' catch for hedge fund traders", July 7). Thomas Tang's letter ("Traders who killed marlin no role models", July 14) irrelevantly emphasises wealth as a factor, before lamenting the rare sighting of these fish, conveniently forgetting Hong Kong's tiny geographical area.

He naively claims the money spent on this one fishing trip could have been better used to improve our oceans.

Mark Footer ("In the blood", July 14) hysterically deduces that catching a fish is the first step on a slippery slope to embracing misogyny and slavery.

I respect the need for sustainable fishing, but Mr Tang and Footer lack perspective.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and Fishery Resources Monitoring System websites indicate that sport fishing comprises a small volume of the annual catch of blue marlin - perhaps less than 5 per cent of the total estimated 27,000 tonnes worldwide.

Commercial longline fishing has by far the greatest impact.

Alex Fletcher, Sai Ying Pun


Overindulging children is worrisome

I have just returned from Britain, so have only just seen the almost vitriolic reply from Veronica Bennett ("Seating of children on public transport a matter of safety", July 7) to my letter ("Mannerless generation in motion", June 30).

I suggested that adults, especially those of senior age, should be given priority regarding bus seating, rather than young and healthy children.

It appears she considers people of my opinion responsible if one of those children is hurt if a driver braked suddenly.

Fortunately, two other correspondents subsequently pointed out that the accompanying adult can hold the children's hands in order to stop them falling.

Of course, safety is always an issue, but until Mrs Bennett produces evidence that standing rather than sitting, where a child can be flung into the seat in front, is more liable to serious injury, and also tells us how many people, with age group categories, are injured on Discovery Bay buses, I cannot take her remarks seriously.

Mrs Bennett aside, it would appear that the majority of your correspondents favour elderly people being offered seats in preference to children if a bus is full.

What I don't think was appreciated from my letter was that it did not refer to Discovery Bay buses alone.

On the MTR, for example, one often witnesses children rushing to get seats for themselves and their family members. The children do not offer their seats up to other, slower, adults who entered the train behind them.

There just does not seem to be the same culture that existed when many of us were younger and our parents told us to give up our seats.

Now the children expect to get a seat from a young age and this expectation remains with them.

I think this is a worrying trend. Many parents, but of course not all, are, in my opinion, overindulgent towards their children in this area, and this can have unfortunate consequences.

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay


Significance of incense tree overlooked

There used to be an incense tree ( Aquilaria sinensis) on the side of the road between Aberdeen Country Park and Wan Chai Gap.

I last saw the tree in late April.

It was situated within a games area and I believe it was planted there by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

However, during a recent visit to this games area, I found that the tree was no longer there.

This tree was closely related to the naming of Hong Kong.

Some people think that Hong Kong means "fragrant harbour". But at the time of colonisation by the British, it was an important export port for the incense industry in southern China.

Incense, which came from the wood of incense trees, was brought to Hong Kong and then shipped to its final destinations, so Hong Kong should mean Incense Harbour.

Since these trees are not easy to come by nowadays, and because of their educational value, I urge the department to reinstate the tree to its original location.

Kenneth Chu, Wan Chai


Digging our graves through development

If you look around this city we would appear to have the perfect infrastructure.

Everywhere there are skyscrapers housing major international financial institutions which provide jobs for many Hong Kong citizens.

The city's economy is flourishing and as a consequence people keep wanting higher living standards, but more infrastructure projects are needed to satisfy these demands.

However they come at a cost to the environment, with, for example, more reclamation. In other parts of the world dams are built and trees felled leading to deforestation. This causes more global warming and it could be argued that in an environmental sense, we are digging our own graves.

Greater economic development leads to an imbalance in the food chain. In densely populated areas, more resources are needed. Trees are burned and animals lose their habitats, with some species facing extinction.

With non-renewable energy in short supply, there is increasing use of hydro-electric power. When dams are built, the upper courses of rivers often have excess water and this can lead to flooding. People living nearby may lose their homes.

In Hong Kong, the building of so many skyscrapers can lead to what is known as "wall effect" that blocks the circulation of air. Having an accumulation of bad air around them is bad for affected residents.

I think when you consider all these factors it is fair to say that given what we are doing to the environment we are putting ourselves at risk. It is time that we made environmental conservation our priority, rather than economic development.

Janet Chan, Sha Tin


PCCW abuses broadband monopoly

As a PCCW broadband customer of over 10 years, my loyalty to them has not been reciprocated but further humiliated by an increase of service charge of over 100 per cent since the beginning of the year (from HK$190 to HK$398 monthly).

This is for just their 8MB speed service, which they have priced at the same rate as the optic fibre service.

They are using their monopolistic power as the sole internet provider of our housing estate to coerce us into signing up for their optic fibre service which they've already installed to our doorstep. On top of that, they demand an exorbitant, cut-throat installation charge. This is ludicrous and unethical.

If we have no legislation to tame the continuous ferocious appetite of rampant price increases, I believe it is the consumers like us who will suffer eventually.

Charles Chan, Kowloon Tong