Letters to the Editor, September 26, 2013
Country park land could be developed
Future land development in Hong Kong is a controversial issue.
One of our former chief secretaries, Sir David Akers-Jones, has proposed a development on Lantau ("Build a 'parkland city' in Lantau South: Akers-Jones", September 20).
He wants part of Lantau South Country Park turned into nature trails, bicycle tracks and sites for flats, saying the parkland would be "full of excitement and discovery".
Even though it has met with opposition from environmentalists, I back Sir David's plan.
Most of the New Territories and urban areas have already been fully developed and the government is struggling to find more land for public estates and private housing to meet the demands of a rising population.
Lantau South is the largest of our country parks, with 5,640 hectares, and Lantau North Country Park was expanded by 2,360 hectares in 2008. So I think there is nothing wrong with these proposed residential developments, especially as there will also be nature trails.
Some people may oppose it because they think that once it is accepted by the public, the government will try to push through similar plans in other country parks.
However, we have to accept that some of that land will have to be sacrificed to develop new residential areas. What officials must do is strike a balance between nature preservation and development plans.
Cannis Wong Ming-yan, Tsuen Wan
Mainland location for HK's overspill
The Hong Kong government and residents should face the fact that in a little over 30 years, the present status of Hong Kong will change dramatically.
It may remain an SAR but will no longer enjoy the privileges it has today and the Hong Kong permanent residency much sought after by mainland Chinese will become meaningless. So why not look to the future and build a new development over the present border with the mainland? By building it somewhere near Shenzhen, what little is left of the open space of Hong Kong, including country parks, could be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
As an example of what can be achieved by such a move, take a look at Milton Keynes.
It is a new town in England some 72 kilometres north of London. It was originally built to cope with the London overspill.
It took some 20 years to fully develop into what is now a thriving new town equipped with transport links, industrial areas, schools, hospitals and private and government housing. So why not a Hong Kong overspill, which is exactly what we are facing today?
With the new town built over the border, with industrial areas, schools, hospitals and improved transport links, residents can enjoy the best of both worlds, the mainland's improving standard of living, cheaper housing and at the same time the available attractions of nearby Hong Kong.
Obviously there is a need to resolve the issues of the joint governance and financing of such a venture until "one country, two systems" becomes obsolete and to convince Hong Kong permanent residents that by such a move, they and their families will benefit in the long term.
Ray Partington, Tuen Mun
Department should explain long delays
I was most impressed on Monday morning with the speed with which the Leisure and Cultural Services Department cleared the fallen trees, branches and other debris in King's Park after Sunday night's typhoon.
However, I have been less impressed with the Water Supplies Department.
More than two years ago, it put up a notice saying that works were to take place at the service reservoir, which would be completed by December 31, 2011.
December 31, 2011 passed and so did December 31, 2012.
The department is now 20 months behind its initial completion date and still people using the park have to negotiate incomplete works at the top of the flight of steps leading up from Yau Ma Tei Fire Station.
Would the Water Supplies Department like to explain why these works are so far behind schedule?
Angus Hardern, Mong Kok
Corruption hurts air pollution battle
I refer to the report ("China's path to less polluting economic growth is full of hurdles" September 15).
I share the disappointment expressed by many air quality experts and environmentalists over the State Council's national action plan to "address the country's air pollution crisis".
A few months ago, when President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang said environmental protection would be given a higher priority, I had a slim hope of seeing China's air pollution problems solved, but I no longer feel that way. The failure to come up with strong measures is a political one.
Local governments have opposed stronger measures because there are hidden agreements between officials and industries. This culture of bribery will make it difficult for the central government to effectively curb air pollution.
What is needed is for industries on the mainland to accept corporate social responsibility.
They seem to lack an awareness of the need to reduce pollution levels and their priority is profit maximisation. This is why they object to environmental protection policies from Beijing. They need to be made aware that air pollution affects people's health and hits the tourist industry. This lowers China's competitiveness.
As long as the culture of bribery prevails, China will not implement tough anti-pollution measures.
Koey Chow Chau-yin, Ma On Shan
More electric cars reduce emissions
Levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne pollutants most harmful to humans, have increased in China, especially in Beijing.
There is an urgent need to deal with these air pollution levels and all citizens should co-operate.
I would like to see more electric cars on the road, as this would help to reduce exhaust emissions. Also, where possible, more citizens should opt to use public transport instead of private vehicles.
Also, citizens could try to reduce their use of air conditioners, which would lead to less energy being consumed and lower air pollution levels.
Raymond Chan Kwun-hin,Tseung Kwan O
Fish ladders to help migration at dam
I refer to the report ("Mekong dam could devastate local life" September 13).
Environmental activists, including Dr Eric Baran quoted in your story, have mounted an intensive campaign to make it appear the Xayaburi dam is in some way responsible for the decline in population, and eventual extinction, of the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas).
In an interview lasting more than an hour, I explained to your correspondent Tom Fawthrop that the population of the giant catfish has been in decline for decades, and subpopulations in some areas disappeared nearly a century ago due to human activity (urban development caused by population increase) and pollution.
I also explained that there exist today several small subpopulations of giant catfish in specific locales of the Mekong River but none are in the vicinity of the Xayaburi site.
Dam or no dam, the Mekong catfish might be doomed to extinction; however, the developer of the Xayaburi project, along with the Lao government and scientists from Laos and Thailand, are committed to breeding the giant catfish and other Mekong species to ensure their future existence.
Finally, scientists are at work in Laos today designing fish ladders and fish lifts that will effectively assist upstream and downstream migration of Mekong species.
These positive points were not portrayed in the article.
Dr Sinthavong Viravong, deputy director, Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre, National Forestry and Research Institute, Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Vientiane, Laos
Co-operate on homeless problem
I refer to the letter by Kammy Lo Wing-lam ("Concerted effort can help street sleepers", September 12).
Your correspondent said that the government should be allocating more resources to deal with the problem of homeless people.
I agree with the comment that officials should be careful before speaking in public, given that criticism was made of "good-hearted citizens" who are trying help the homeless in Sham Shui Po.
Hong Kong does not face a large-scale problem. However, there are still a lot of street sleepers.
The government must formulate whatever policies are needed to deal with the problem.
Also, as Ms Lo pointed out, officials must seek greater co-operation with those citizens who are providing the necessary manpower (which the government appears to lack) to help these people who have nowhere to live.
Winky Tsang Wing-ki, Tsuen Wan