Letters to the Editor, August 20, 2013
Scheme will lead to illegal dumping
I refer to the letter from the undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai ("Public acceptance of waste-charging scheme is essential", August 15) where she admits that the cogs of government are grinding rather slowly on the matter of a waste-charging scheme.
Loh cites the necessity of public consultation, though in Hong Kong this usually doesn't amount to much more than going through the motions.
It appears certain that the logistics of introducing such a fee-charging scheme into this highly congested high-rise environment will be a bureaucratic nightmare.
Such charges will surely encourage illegal dumping and disposal, while not meaningfully reducing the volume of waste going to landfills.
I think the Environmental Protection Department's time and effort would be better spent on how to maximise waste recycling.
Presently those three little bins that have been introduced are no more than a sorry joke. The undersecretary seems to take umbrage at Philip Bowring's criticisms ("Land policy on shaky ground", August 11). but Loh has (pointedly) passed up the opportunity to address the more serious allegations that "officials here refuse to discuss options" to the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator - thus avoiding public consultation.
Loh should respond to Charlie Chan ("Come clean on waste disposal strategy", August 13) and the many other correspondents who have complained through these columns on the official choice of the Shek Kwu Chau site.
I agree with Bowring that "the public naturally suspects pecuniary interests, not the public interest, are again at play".
It appears that the Environment Bureau has dug itself into an entrenched position, and those pecuniary interests will not become clear until after the contracts connected to this massive project have been signed off.
K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill
Pro-gay lobby struggling for equal rights
I refer to the letter by Peter Shek ("Pro-gay lobby seeks to silence differing views", August 15) which I found offensive.
Claiming that this alleged "lobby" succeeds in silencing anti-gay views "in the West", he warns of the "verbal and sometimes physical abuse" faced by anyone who dares speak out against homosexuality there.
He goes on to assert, inexplicably, that "saying a homosexual act is a sin (which is what the Bible and many religions say), and abnormal, is not discrimination," and seems shocked that gays might object to a requirement of celibacy for acceptance by an ill-defined "Christian coalition".
Those who do not conform - that is, who do not remain celibate - he warns, "must live with the consequences".
Presumably, left-handed redheads too, must face the repercussions of their abnormal condition.
Proclaiming that sexual orientation is not "set in stone", Mr Shek implies it is a choice, forcing one to wonder at which point in his life he chose to be straight.
"Why should special rights be granted based on particular sexual behaviour", he demands, "to the extent that you cannot speak out against it?"
It may come as a shock to Mr Shek to learn that the "pro-gay lobby" isn't struggling for special rights, only equal ones. May I suggest a rereading of Matthew 7:1, "Judge not that ye be not judged."
Reuben M. Tuck, Macau
Americans avoid home truths on race
It was intriguing to read your very fine columnist Wee Kek Koon mention Bruce Lee's Eurasian heritage ("Original spin", August 11).
It's really an anomaly that the Chinese embrace Lee as wholly of their ethnicity.
I just wish Mr Wee had clarified the issue by revealing which relative gave Lee the Eurasian link.
This struck me as similar to the fact that Americans seem oblivious of Barack Obama's mixed ancestry, treating it as wholly black.
This may be tied to the guilt which white Americans generally feel over the historical issue of slavery, which is why they've gone along with the Afro-American mindset that anyone with a drop of black blood is black. Just look at celebrities Halle Berry and Mariah Carey, for example, to know that one of their parents was white.
Other countries recognise the fact of the races mingling, using labels like mestizo, or hyphenating ethnicities, which is one way of precluding racist attitudes.
Renata Lopez, Wan Chai
UN must help to end serious crisis in Egypt
The tragedy that is happening in Egypt now has us humanists wanting to place our message of non-violence and non-discrimination there, into a society increasingly polarised and with no visible way locally of overcoming the divide.
The clear need for negotiations and dialogue is there, between the military-controlled government and the ousted parliamentarians that are with president Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The coalition which includes Mursi is protesting over the military's violent crackdown, as are people who are not affiliated and just want their peaceful daily life back.
The United Nations, flawed as it is, is the only institution that can adequately address all sides in this civil conflict. The UN can ask for a compromise on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood to begin speaking with the military-led government. The world's nations can stop financial and arms-related material support to Egypt's government.
Everyone has to calm down.
There is a need to stop using non-uniformed security personnel on the street because people get confused and begin setting up vigilante bands, not thinking about the need for neutrality on the part of law enforcers.
The media can transmit a message of "No to Violence, Yes to Life". The government can decree no killing and have the police take over responsibility for law and order.
The military should be immediately sent back to their barracks. They are not trained to deal with civil strife.
The Muslim Brotherhood must be part of the political process, as should be any group proposing a political way forward.
All groups and individuals should ban violence. It is not the way to find a solution to the problems being faced by the country.
Freedom of expression and choice are of paramount importance.
Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong
Economic plan in Japan unrealistic
The Bank of Japan has promised to unleash a massive programme of quantitative easing in a bid to restore the economy to health and banish the deflation which lasted for 15 years.
This policy shows the government is determined to deal with the economic problems in Japan, but is the policy appropriate or a bit overambitious?
The consumer price index revealed that the inflation rate rose for the first time and it seems that quantitative easing really helped stop deflation. But, many analysts agree it is too early to declare victory over deflation. They note that the so-called good inflation of domestic demand stoking wage growth and consumer prices remain elusive.
Also, many private-sector economists believe achieving 2 per cent inflation in two years is overambitious. Even one of the Bank of Japan's policy boards has publicly called on the central bank to loosen this time frame.
It is too early to determine whether the policy is effective or not, but the government should listen to the clamour of the public and economists to revise its time frame.
Also, it is important for the government to supervise the operation of the banks and monitor the lending rate. The banks have an important role, which helps encourage consumption and investment of citizens and so stimulate the economy, if they do not lend money at a low rate, all efforts will be in vain.
The government should also be alarmed at public sentiment as the tremendous government debt may spark fears among investors that the massive purchases of government bonds will never be wound back.
Sherry Wong, Kwun Tong
Idling engine ban law is ineffective
The Hong Kong government could not care less about the quality of Hong Kong's air.
This is evident in the laughable enforcement of illegally parked cars which spend their entire days idling, free of fear of prosecution.
On days when the very hot weather signal is in effect, these drivers can legally sit for hours on end idling away in air-conditioned comfort, adding to the city's air pollution totally secure in the knowledge the law is on their side. How can this be the policy of a government concerned with the air we all have to breathe?
That the Environmental Protection Department and police enforcement of illegal parking and illegal idling is incompetently pursued is no longer news. That the government of Leung Chun-ying continues to look the other way and allow this illegal activity to continue unabated reflects his own nefarious neglect of Hong Kong people's right to clean air.
Mark Peaker, The Peak