Letters to the Editor, September 11, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 3:39am

All citizens must get used to recycling

Waste management is a real problem as the volume of waste produced in the city increases.

I do not think that continuing to rely on landfills is a sustainable solution as Hong Kong has only limited land. Once the landfills have reached capacity we will be left with the dilemma of where to then dump refuse. Using landfills just delays facing a problem, but does not solve it.

It would seem that one solution would be the use of incineration, which would lead to a substantial reduction in volumes of municipal solid waste. Also, the incinerators can produce energy which could be used to provide electricity. But some citizens are opposed to such plants being built, because of the high operating costs and fears that they would give off toxic gases.

We must look at different options and we should have to pay for the refuse we produce. This will have a knock-on effect. People will be given a bill based on the volume of waste in their household and this will encourage them to recycle more and generate less waste.

We all have to take responsibility for waste in this city and try to recycle more. Critics talk about the financial burden a charging system will cause.

However, for citizens there is a simple solution. Their bills will go down if they generate less rubbish and recycle as much material as possible.

I also think education is important, especially in schools. We need to ensure the next generation understands the importance of recycling and that this becomes a habit youngsters follow as adults.

Jack Lo Chiu-pang, Kwun Tong


Privacy chief's stand is cause for concern

I refer to your editorial ("Balance privacy and free speech", August 30) and to earlier comments reported in your paper by Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang, regarding use of information in public records, with particular reference to their being accessed via a mobile phone app. I am a former government records service director and an archives legislation advocate.

It would appear to be axiomatic that the purpose of designating certain classes of records as "public records" under legislation - for example registers of lands and companies - is to place the information they contain in the public domain. And when information is provided to, or collected by, the creators of those records under the provisions of that legislation, the individuals concerned will have necessarily consented to their information being made available to the public. Arguably, this meets the personal data protection use-limitation principle of original or directly related purpose.

I would also submit that access to that information, whether directly by a visit to consult the public register in person or remotely through a database or phone app, is still access as allowed by the statute under which the public records are created and made available.

While one acknowledges the need to protect personal data against inappropriate access and use, there is a danger that, in seeking to restrict the use of information that is in the public domain, the freedom of information, together with that of free speech, may be significantly eroded. It begs the question where limitation of the use of public information will stop.

The zeal with which the privacy commissioner has exercised powers claimed under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to prevent the use of a phone app to access information contained in public records should ring an alarm bell that resonates with Hong Kong people's concern to protect their freedoms.

Restricting access to and use of information in the name of privacy or the public good may well become an addiction that the government finds hard to break. Take care when you seek to restrict freedoms lest you tread a path that cannot be retraced.

Don Brech, Causeway Bay


Golf club benefits city's economy

Two years ago, I relocated to Hong Kong to become the global chairman of KPMG International.

My wife and I have enjoyed the wonderful features and advantages of the city.

Indeed I believe with some improved marketing Hong Kong should be a natural base for many more global companies and expatriates to boost its economy and talent base even further.

From a business perspective, shopping, food and the vibrant social life, Hong Kong is hard to beat.

There are limitations, however, in relation to culture and sport for those coming from other major regional hubs with which Hong Kong, marketed as a world city, has to compete.

Therefore I am delighted to see the government's programme to raise the cultural base of the city through the West Kowloon development, which brings us to the issue of sport.

Outside of the Rugby Sevens, world-class sporting events and facilities are relatively limited in Hong Kong.

You can imagine my dismay at the initiatives designed to convert one of the few world-class sporting facilities, the Hong Kong Golf Club [in Fanling], into a residential housing development.

While I agree that a solution to Hong Kong's affordable housing situation is desperately needed, much business is done on the golf course and this contributes to the vibrancy and economic success of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Golf Club is an icon recognised by golfers all around the world.

The ability to take your clients, introduce international guests, and attract some of the world's leading talent for corporate days is an essential business feature. And the Hong Kong Open is a much cherished world-class sporting event enjoyed by many of Hong Kong's sports fans.

Can I urge whoever is writing this policy to bear in mind the impact such a policy would have on business connections in this B2B, globally connected city?

Michael Andrew, Central


Very difficult decision for US president

Seldom a day goes by without more newspaper reports on Syria and the use of chemical weapons and the continuing debate about whether the US should go ahead with a military strike.

Critics talk about the "drums of war" and it is certainly an issue that requires an in-depth investigation and discussion.

We know from past experience that the use of chemical weapons puts many people at risk and I can understand why Washington has taken such a firm stand on this issue.

It feels that if nothing is done to stop the use of these weapons we will see many more victims of attacks.

If I was in President Barack Obama's position I believe I would take the same stand as he has done, although it is a difficult decision to take.

I am also concerned about what might happen if some of these chemical weapons managed to get into the hands of terrorists.

Fred Wong, Tseung Kwan O


Not all tourists from mainland behave badly

I agree with those who have complained about the rudeness of some visitors from the mainland in Hong Kong.

I have noticed that many of them are reluctant to line up in queues and obviously this is something that I find annoying. There are rules within our society which many of them seem to be reluctant to follow.

Also, some of them stand in groups in the middle of the street and thereby create an obstruction for other passers-by. I have seen incidents where they have been asked to make way and became abusive.

I hope we will see an improvement. Also, it is important to emphasise that it is unfair to generalise. Not all mainland tourists are rude and it would be unfair to suggest that. It is important when looking at this issue to be objective.

Chan Sai-cheong, Sha Tin