Letters to the Editor, August 22, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 1:31am


Alternatives to waste strategy are necessary

In his letter ("Cement plan not yet viable refuse solution", August 16), Elvis Au, assistant director of environmental protection, criticised a trial by Green Island Cement of a project to develop a waste incineration facility.

Mr Au is instead a staunch advocate of a waste incinerator he likes to describe as a "waste-to-energy" scheme. Yet while the government aims to build one of the world's largest waste incinerators, he conveniently omits to mention that there have been no trials whatsoever of such a facility in Hong Kong - that's unless you count Hong Kong's former waste incinerators, which were shut down last century for being too filthy.

In Mr Au's view, a "thorough environmental impact assessment study" is required for the Green Island Cement plan. Yet such a study is also lacking for the proposed Shek Kwu Chau incinerator scheme. All that I am aware of is an assessment focusing on selecting an incinerator site. This was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Department, which, conveniently, was also responsible for passing the study.

Information in the impact assessment report is often scant. For instance, emissions including particulates are a major concern, yet what little data there is has evidently been plucked out of thin air, rather than from trials involving Hong Kong waste.

I noticed no mention of studies finding links between proximity to incinerators and increased risks of birth defects and cancer. When it comes to its own project, the department seems unperturbed by data that is lacking or muddled.

Previous letters have noted issues with figures on waste, which should be crucial to determining strategies. The picture is hazy, thanks to varying methods of estimation.

Mr Au says Hong Kong's waste strategy needs "the joint efforts of the entire community", yet the government remains fixated on an outmoded strategy centred on dumping and burning waste, whilst showing no interest in considering alternatives and holding meaningful, open discussions.

Martin Williams, director, Hong Kong Outdoors


We must all work to fight corruption

We have been deeply touched by your editorial ("Keep faith in the work of the ICAC", August 13). We thank you for your firm support for this "institutional pillar" of our city and our community. We are retired officers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, many having served from its early years and some on its inception.

Like you, we stand staunchly behind the ICAC and serving ICAC colleagues.

For over 39 years, different generations of conscientious and highly professional officers have dedicated their time and energies to the ICAC's three-pronged approach to combatting corruption and the quest for integrity and justice. For close to four decades, we have spared no effort to root out the corrupt, plug loopholes for corruption and promote integrity and good ethics.

As you say, the ICAC's efforts have secured for Hong Kong the good repute as one of the cleanest cities worldwide. For many of us, this has been achieved at the expense of family life and personal sacrifice.

To this day, despite some hitches now and then, the evidence is that the ICAC's three-pronged approach continues apace without fear or favour.

However, this campaign cannot rest with just the quite small body of officers in the ICAC. Our community, government, legislators, the media and the professions as well as the man and woman in the street must all rally round and champion this cause in the interests of and to the benefit of us all in Hong Kong.

Ricky Hui, chairman, ICAC Retired Officers Association


Green energy is the past, not the future

The growing failure of green energy in Europe should warn Australia to abandon its bi-partisan policies dictating targets, mandates and subsidies for "green" energy.

I grew up at the end of the last green energy era - solar energy powered our growing crops and dried the washing, but it was weak in winter and ceased under clouds and at night.

Wind energy pumped water, but only when the wind blew.

Draft horses powered farm machinery, but they had to be fed whether they were working or not.

Wood gave us home heating and cooking, but it consumed energy to collect and chop it up.

Our only help from carbon energy was kerosene for the kitchen lamp and coke used in smelters and forges to produce our metal tools and machinery.

We also practised "sustainability" - we purchased little, and most of the farm produce was consumed on the farm by family, farm labourers and draft horses. We were rescued from this life of hard labour by carbon energy - a kerosene-powered tractor, a petrol-powered truck, and coal-powered electricity for lighting, heating, cooking, refrigeration, milking machines and pumps.

The horses and farm labour were no longer needed and, at last, the farms produced a decent surplus of food for the growing cities.

Wind, solar, wood and muscle power are tools of the past and they work no better now than they did then.

Forcing people to use these ancient technologies will just return us to laborious poverty on the farms and hunger in the cities. Green energy should not be forced on consumers - those who want it should pay for it.

Green energy will eventually be abandoned, but the cost rises for each day's delay.

Viv Forbes, Rosewood, Australia


Students were wrong to criticise C Y

It is very depressing to read the article posted by the Hong Kong University Students' Union ("CY is fanning political discord, say students", August 15) which condemned our honourable chief executive as the one who fans political discord in our society.

The union referred to his speech about primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze, who does not even know what proper behaviour is, as vividly seen and heard from the video clip posted online [showing her swearing at police over their handling of a protest].

Her action is not the expression of freedom which the pan-democrats have claimed, but a pronounced challenge to authority.

It is very sad to see no action being taken by the commissioner of police, who should have protected the integrity of his staff.

Fortunately, Mr Leung stood out and remedied it.

Tommy Chan, Sai Ying Pun


Development must respect views of locals

Regarding the Kwun Tong town centre redevelopment project, I found it quite interesting that the Urban Renewal Authority plans to name the rebuilt area "Kai Fong Lane", as the authority thinks this would appeal to the locals because of its "neighbourhood warmth".

I think "Kai Fong Lane" appeals to tourists rather than the local community.

They plan to clear away those old shops and invite developers to rebuild four residential blocks with a new shopping mall and stores, which has nothing to do with "neighbourhood warmth".

In my opinion, the URA is shovelling away an entire association and building a completely unfamiliar new community, which changes the lifestyle of the Kwun Tong neighbourhood by turning the area into a commercial attraction.

URA also removed Lee Tung Street (as known as Wedding Card Street) in Wan Chai, and built a street mall named Avenue Walk months ago, which provoked public anger as it was disrespectful towards the history of the district.

Its current actions might yield the same result for "Kai Fong Lane".

We need to preserve people's "good old days" and memories. The URA should make the effort to hear people's views, rather than go against public sentiment.

Gabriella Lai, Fanling


Make greener driving habits compulsory

I agree with Johan Olausson's letter ("'Toothless' law lets drivers avoid fines for idling engines", August 2).

It is imaginable that many drivers have violated the idling ban, but have escaped being fined, since it took effect in 2011.

Although there are some successful cases of drivers being penalised, it is still not effective enough in reducing the number of idling vehicles.

The situation is getting worse, especially in the summer when the narrow streets are packed with pedestrians and street vendors alongside the roads.

Some drivers are so selfish that they simply ignore the feelings of most pedestrians walking under strong sunlight, who have to suffer the filthy air emitted by their cars.

Some drivers claim that it becomes stuffy inside their car if they switch off the engine when the temperature is high - but isn't it the same for pedestrians walking along the street?

The government should go beyond law enforcement and publicity campaigns. Drivers should be trained to foster the greener driving habit of switching off idling engines. A green driving habit should be made compulsory, perhaps by forming part of the criteria when granting driving licences.

Leung Kit Yan, Diamond Hill