Efforts to recycle met with obstacles
I read with interest the comment by Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment ("Charging scheme provides incentive for waste separation", August 27), that the government needed to focus both on maximising waste recycling and waste charging. I cannot agree more.
Our family has been attempting to recycle our waste for a number of years but, regrettably, our efforts have been hampered on all fronts.
The estate manager of our complex gallantly confirmed that there was a good recycling programme in place and yet the cleaners regularly dump the contents of our recycling boxes with general domestic waste.
The government recycling containers in our neighbourhood are regularly full, at times with leaves and other rubbish collected by government-contracted cleaners who sweep the streets.
I also tried "paid" recycling and, after paying the required fee, I was told there was insufficient interest for the services to be extended to our neighbourhood and so it was not economically viable.
From time to time, we read in the press of difficulties faced by recycling companies and the purported lack of government support and funding.
Without stating the obvious, recycling companies will only operate if there is a profit to be generated and without the recycling companies, all efforts will be to no avail.
While our children have been coached in the message of RRR (reduce, reuse and recycle), I have yet to come across any evidence of efforts by the administration to make recycling a real and readily available option.
We have high hopes in Ms Loh and with her dedication and foresight, I am sure her department will strive to improve our environment.
Nevertheless, it would be helpful if she could enlighten us on the government's plans and actions and, more specifically, let me know where I should take our boxes of paper, cans, glass and plastic bottles; and how I can be sure that these are properly recycled.
Kelly Lam, The Peak
Curbing the hawkers has been difficult
I refer to the letter by W. K. Wong ("Why no action on hawkers at MTR station?" August 26) on illegal hawking activities at the underpass linking Pacific Place and Admiralty MTR station.
The management office of Pacific Place is aware of the presence of unlicensed hawkers at the underpass and has deployed additional staff to conduct regular patrols to deter these activities.
We have also, in some instances, called on the police for assistance.
Although there has been some improvement, it has proved to be a challenge to completely eliminate the illegal hawking activities as the stalls are highly mobile.
We will closely monitor the situation and continue to take enforcement measures to provide a safe and pleasant environment for the public.
Chris Heywood, senior portfolio manager, Pacific Place management office
Not all city's mainland visitors rude
A number of correspondents and columnists have commented on complaints about mainland tourists being rude when they come to Hong Kong.
The many mainland visitors who come to the city are often regarded by Hongkongers as being pushy, loud, impolite and unruly when, for example, they rush for seats in MTR carriages or jump queues.
I agree that lower educational levels affect the way some mainland tourists behave. Many come from poor families and had limited opportunities when it comes to their schooling.
They will often be unaware that their behaviour is unacceptable.
Also, Hong Kong is a prosperous city, but many citizens on the mainland endure difficult living conditions as China is still a poor country with many development problems.
Bad behaviour can become commonplace and turn into an unhealthy habit. However, I think it is unfair to tar all mainland visitors with the same brush.
Just because we may have an unpleasant encounter we should not then say all of them are impolite.
The fact is that not all of them are rude. It is important to deal with people in an impartial way and respect those mainland visitors who respond to us with good manners.
Milly Lam, Tseung Kwan O
Illegal trawler put other vessels at risk
On Saturday evening at 8pm, I was on a pleasure craft which was travelling between Stanley and Po Toi.
Between Stanley and Beaufort Island, I witnessed a large Hong Kong fishing trawler with only its basic navigation lights on, travelling very slowly, towing a net behind it (both side booms were extended, while trawling).
This vessel was completely darkened, with only minimal lights visible, due to the illegal fishing it was doing.
This act was a clear breach of the no-trawling law in Hong Kong waters, but worst of all, the vessel was a danger to all commercial and private vessels using this busy shipping channel.
I would like to know why there were no police boats patrolling the area and how this illegal and dangerous act is still possible in Hong Kong waters.
George von Burg, Tai Tam
Students are facing too much pressure
I agree with Yolanda Cheung that there are problems with the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education ("Diploma too demanding of students", August 30).
I understand the intentions behind the projects for liberal studies and school-based assessments. However, they cannot achieve their overall aim, because of the new senior secondary curriculum's tight schedule.
Teachers cannot finish all the teaching content in an academic year, resulting in extra lessons during holidays.
Students do not even have time to rest, so how can they think about self-learning?
They are forced to undertake these extensive projects and this reduces the incentive to do extra research which would give them a deeper understanding of the material. This discourages self-learning.
Hong Kong students are sometimes accused of being passive and lacking creativity. They must be given more opportunities to develop their potential.
The government had good intentions with the new curriculum, but it needs to keep reviewing the education system.
Clare Leung Tsz-kwan, Shun Lee
Correcting lever needed to tackle poverty
I wonder whether the financial secretary and his supporting officials lie awake at night, as I lie awake, worrying about the over one million who live below the poverty line.
We have a well-attended Poverty Commission, which is beavering away at this problem, but ultimately it is the financial secretary who has the responsibility to find a solution. I have been looking back over 40 years of policy addresses to see if I could find any early warning of a looming problem. There was none. Indeed, with the housing shortage, there were the comforting words that it was going to be solved by fiscal means.
Well, what happened to those policies? After waiting 10 years, they were an abject failure.
With poverty there has been the temporary solace of handouts, but nothing really to get to grips with the problem. Nothing like the post-war landlord and tenant legislation, with its whiff of a firm hand on the tiller, to deal with the two million or more refugees crossing the border. No one to deal with these latter-day Rachman characters in Hong Kong; only some crocodile tears from a magistrate recently when evicting a tenant. No one to put a stop to the landlords who feed more and more people into the money machine of divided flats, into smaller and smaller coffin tenancies whose rent sucks up a high proportion of a penurious income.
Market forces may be a fine driver of the economy and the steady accumulation of wealth in the coffers, but there must be some correcting lever in this great economic miracle of Hong Kong, and in the mind of the engine driver as he lies awake and before he turns over to sleep again.
David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei
Decision on TV licences long overdue
ATV has failed to attract more viewers and yet it continues to operate.
This is because of the government's system which regulates the number of licences.
The Executive Council has spent more than three years discussing whether or not to loosen the regulations and offer more free-to-air TV licences. Over that period, a great deal of legislation that is much more controversial has been passed from Exco to the legislature.
The lack of competition means that TVB has monopolised the market, with the resulting decline in quality of output. This is what happens when a monopoly is in place.
Only with adequate competition will the free-to-air TV sector improve.
The government may not be sincere about genuine political reform or dealing with social injustice, but at least it can ensure TV audiences have some quality entertainment.
Tony Chan, Kwun Tong