Letters to the Editor, September 18, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 3:05am


Department does tackle illegal trawling

I refer to the letter by George von Burg ("Illegal trawler put other vessels at risk", September 5).

Trawling in Hong Kong waters has been banned since December 31, 2012.

Anyone who is engaged in trawling illegally is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$200,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance (Cap 171).

Although we understand that the majority of trawlers have stopped trawling in Hong Kong waters, we will spare no effort in tackling illegal trawling. We will flexibly deploy resources to step up patrols and stringently enforce the law.

We will also enhance communication and co-operation with other departments concerned and, where necessary, carry out joint enforcement actions.

Since the implementation of the trawl ban, four cases regarding the use of a prohibited trawling device for fishing have been successfully prosecuted and four other similar cases are being investigated.

Besides, vessels engaged in fishing should exhibit proper lights and shapes in accordance with the requirements of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972.

We call on members of the public to come forward and provide information (time, location, and vessel operating licence number) on any suspected illegal fishing activities to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. They can call 2150 7108 during officer hours or the 1823 call centre round the clock.

To report vessels not exhibiting proper navigation lights at night, members of the public can contact the command centre of the Marine Department at 2385 2791/2.

Dr P. M. So, assistant director (fisheries), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department


Using country parks for flats not the answer

I do not think using country park land will be a good way to solve Hong Kong's housing problem.

My first objection is based on environmental grounds.

Encroaching on these parks to build flats will damage the habitats of animals, and trees will have to be felled to make way for homes.

Also, such a strategy could harm the tourist industry.

Many visitors who come here want to go hiking in the country parks and they will be put off if flats are built.

Officials talk about promoting a green Hong Kong and yet some people seem to want to put housing over environmental protection.

It is as if we are saying one thing and doing another, and this damages Hong Kong's image.

My broader concern is to do with the standard of living and quality of life of Hong Kong citizens.

We already have to endure air and noise pollution. Conditions will only get worse if we end up with fewer recreational facilities.

It is important to meet the housing needs of citizens, but surely not at the expense of our country parks and the health and well-being of Hongkongers.

There must surely be other available options to provide more housing so we don't have to sacrifice these parks.

This is also a political issue, because with regard to housing policies, citizens are angry about the lack of public consultation.

The government has to listen to the views of Hong Kong residents when it comes to housing and find out what they really want.

If it implements policies without a thorough consultation process, this will lead to feelings of greater dissatisfaction and we will see more demonstrations and protests in society.

Alky Pak Hoi-kiu, Ma On Shan


Valid doubts raised over 'local' Jetstar

I refer to the report ("Pansy Ho lets fly at Jetstar opponents", September 12).

While Hong Kong can benefit from more airline competition, Jetstar Hong Kong is really a franchisee of Qantas, which is still in control of the so-called network decisions.

I do not think this franchise model complies with the Basic Law, which requires a licensed airline's "principal place of business" to be in Hong Kong.

A scheduled air carrier is a network business.

Decisions and controls on the airline's networks, comprising the routes, brands, and certain operating and marketing platforms, are the critical functions of the business.

Where that critical function takes place is the "principal place of business".

The other disaggregated functions that the local franchisee provides locally - operating assets, personnel, maintenance, the board, marketing and airport agency services - may not be sufficient to ensure the control of the network, if the franchise arrangement keeps that control in another domicile outside Hong Kong.

Based on Qantas' regulatory filing with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Qantas, like a franchise owner, is keeping the control of the network, of which Jetstar Hong Kong is only one of the constituent parts.

Control of the network in Hong Kong as a criterion for carrier's principal place of business is important because it can help ensure that the network is most optimally serving Hong Kong and the licensed Hong Kong carrier.

The franchise owner that controls the network out of Hong Kong may optimise its overall network, but put Hong Kong in a suboptimal position in the network.

Air travel is strategic to Hong Kong's economy. And the Basic Law is there to protect the SAR's autonomy. The Air Transport Licensing Authority should not grant a licence to a local franchisee whose decision-makers on its place in the network are outside of Hong Kong.

W. S. H. Peng, Central


Tutorial classes make a difference

I agree with Donald Mak about the benefits of tutorial centres in Hong Kong ("Students gain from tutorial colleges", September 9).

Following the introduction of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, teachers in schools have found they suffer from a lack of resources. Also, they do not have enough time to prepare for lessons.

For some of them, the pressure can be too much and it can adversely affect their teaching.

Because of these pressures imposed by the diploma, some young people will choose to attend tutorial classes.

They can acquire more knowledge and improve their examination skills at these colleges.

Catherine Chan Hoi-ying, Tuen Mun


Fight against pollution faces obstacles

I refer to the report ("Beijing unveils plan to cut air pollution", September 13).

The State Council has announced plans to reduce air pollution levels in "major city clusters" around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

It plans to close down polluting factories, improve fuel quality and reduce overreliance on coal.

There is no doubt this strategy could lead to improvements, but these are not the only sources of pollution. China has developed so rapidly that, in order to get extra land, forests have been cut down and there have been serious pollution problems.

Also, there is so much corruption on the mainland that I wonder how successful the government will be in its efforts to shut down polluting factories.

Jack Wu, Sha Tin