Letters to the Editor, October 3, 2013
Levy will aid sustainable development
A survey by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong related to the household-based waste-charge scheme has found that more than 40 per cent interviewees supported households buying their own prepaid garbage bags ("Prepaid bin bags the way to go: survey", September 30).
This is the most practical scheme aimed at reducing volumes of waste generated in Hong Kong and it should be implemented as soon as possible. There is an urgent need for this waste levy for a number of reasons. Our three landfills will reach capacity within a few years.
If volumes of waste are not reduced, more land, including possibly country parks, will be added to the landfill sites. Some people support the building of incineration plants, but I think this could cause air pollution and therefore immeasurable damage to the environment.
The main reason some residents oppose a waste charge is the cost. However, having a charge is necessary and it should not be too low. For example, having a maximum charge of HK$20 month is not high enough.
Citizens need to be less selfish. We must have a long-term vision and embrace the idea of "no pain, no gain". The levy can ensure sustainable development in the city. It can also lower pollution levels and help us attract more tourists.
A waste levy has proved successful in Taipei and Seoul where volumes of waste generated have been reduced substantially.
Leung Tsz-lam, Sha Tin
Disappointing effort by Globe Theatre troupe
While I understand Julia Moffat's complaints ("Appalled by school pupils' behaviour at Shakespeare play", October 1), I have a lot of sympathies for the schoolchildren who had this terrible travesty of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew inflicted on them. I was turned off Shakespeare more than 55 years ago by forced readings of A Midsummer Night's Dream in my UK grammar school days.
It was only after seeing Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of The Taming of the Shrew that I was persuaded that some of Shakespeare's plays might be worth seeing.
My wife and I went to the opening night of the Globe Theatre Company's production of this play at the Academy for Performing Arts. We would have walked out - as so many others did at the interval, never to return - but having paid HK$625 a ticket, we thought that we'd better try to get some value for our wasted money.
Our sympathies went out to those patrons in "the gods" who could not have heard the performers as they did not use radio-microphones.
Not only was it hard going to hear every word, especially when the actresses spoke their words at the wings, but the clarity of speech left much to be desired from some of them.
My wife and I often found it difficult to determine who was which character saying what and we were sitting in a raised area close to the stage.
No, just give me Burton's and Taylor's film of the Shakespeare play, which was a fine rendition.
Four thumbs down for this travesty of a famous play at APA's Lyric Theatre. I guess the schoolchildren agreed with us.
Anthony R. C. Green, Pok Fu Lam
Co-operation key to having more flats
Lawmakers have criticised the government's target of building 470,000 units in 10 years, saying it is not enough to meet housing demand ("New flats target is too low: lawmakers", September 28).
I agree that an annual construction target of 47,000 new units is insufficient and the administration should be aiming for a larger figure.
However, some legislative councillors do not seem to realise that they themselves present the biggest obstacle to the government whenever it proposes developing new land.
I can understand indigenous residents in the northeast New Territories opposing the plan to develop new towns as these projects will directly affect their lives.
However, some lawmakers appear to criticise all proposals put forward by officials, including those for new towns and the redevelopment of older areas of the city and then claim that by doing so they are representing citizens.
It seems strange that they would say this when they oppose projects which could provide additional much-needed units and also extra job opportunities.
Then, if the government is forced to withdraw a housing plan, these same lawmakers accuse it of doing nothing to try and solve Hong Kong's housing problems.
It is not going to be easy to solve our city's housing problems.
It requires the efforts of the government and also of lawmakers.
The administration has to come up with proposals to redevelop the older districts and implement plans for more new towns so that more houses can come on line every year.
What is crucial is that it strikes the right balance between the interests of stakeholders and society in order to avoid conflict situations at the sites chosen.
If supply is increased, prices of apartments will drop.
Instead of just being critical, lawmakers have to come up with concrete proposals to ease the housing problem.
I am sure we will see an improvement in this very important policy area if the government and legislative councillors try to co-operate with each other.
Chan Tak-yung, Ma On Shan
Shopkeepers encroach on pavement
Pavements in Sham Shui Po are usually packed with people.
This is partly due to the fact that shops there offer textiles and computer hardware at affordable prices. This attracts a lot of tourists to what is already a populous district.
To make matters worse, it is quite common to see shop owners and tenants selfishly trespass onto the pavements, by displaying goods for sale or putting up advertising signboards.
This makes the already narrow pavements even narrower, causing extreme inconvenience to pedestrians and even posing a risk to people in wheelchairs.
It is important for shop owners and tenants to exercise self-constraint and not to trespass on the pavement.
It is also important for the relevant government departments to step up monitoring, and even prosecution if necessary, to ensure that public places are not obstructed.
As a matter of principle, no one should be allowed to turn public land into a place for their own use, therefore causing inconvenience to others.
Michael Ko, Sha Shui Po
Students from mainland badly treated
Last month, a group of Form Six students from Hunan travelled to Hong Kong to sit the ACT college entrance exam in Kwun Tong.
Having spent an enjoyable six years living and working in Hong Kong, I prepared them to enjoy their short visit to one of Asia's most exciting cities. And they did, as they revealed during their post-trip essays written for English class.
Unfortunately, their trip was marred - along with their first impressions - at the very end by an unscrupulous coach driver hired to shuttle them from Times Square to the bullet train in Shenzhen for their return trip.
Said driver arrived late and then pretended to be a new coach driver who said he could get them to the train by taking a shortcut for an additional HK$220, which they gladly paid. But when one of my colleagues chaperoning the group asked for a receipt, he refused.
She called the travel agency for verification and the driver's other mobile phone rang. Realising the discovery of his swindle, the driver then proceeded to slow the coach down and threatened to make the group miss their train. As a result, the travel agency reimbursed my colleague for only half of the extra money she had paid out of her own pocket.
This week, Hong Kong was preparing for yet another national holiday week, heralding the arrival of "the locusts" from the mainland.
But my students are not "locusts". They are impressionable teenagers working hard to improve their lives through overseas study, and this is the way they were treated in Hong Kong. First impressions, as they say, are lasting ones.
Craig B. McKee, international department, Yali High School, Changsha, Hunan
Confucian attitude to education
I share the views of former principal Chan Hung that some students are not treated fairly ("The educator who's thinking outside the classroom", September 20).
As a student, I have seen the best groups of students get all kinds of advanced assistance from schools, and the well-off ones get private tutors. But the underprivileged students who are not so smart get no assistance.
Under this exam-oriented system, schools tend to put all resources into their best students so they can record good overall public exam results. Other youngsters who are eager to learn are ignored.
I admire what Mr Chan is doing as an educator ("to give every child in Hong Kong a shot at quality education").
His aim in education follows Confucian ideals while many teachers are simply doing the job because it pays well.
Carl Cheung, Tseung Kwan O