Letters to the Editor, October 15, 2013
Wind power is no solution to energy crisis
The failed turbines at Shanwei (Lai See, "Typhoon Usagi's message for Hong Kong's wind farms", October 1) will hopefully be a wake-up call for proponents of industrial wind energy in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong needs to revisit the policies that are encouraging Hongkong Electric and CLP to forge ahead with plans for useless, expensive and destructive offshore industrial wind energy installations.
Whether or not giant offshore turbines can be engineered to withstand typhoons, they do not produce affordable, dispatchable energy.
As experience in overseas jurisdictions shows, they generally make no appreciable difference to carbon emissions, due to the need for instantly available backup and the associated grid instability and inefficiency caused by having them on line.
They cause social, economic and environmental problems and result in increased consumer and taxpayer costs for no benefit (except to their investors).
Onshore turbines also pose environmental, health and safety issues for nearby residents, as graphically demonstrated in Shanwei.
Overseas experience in Ontario, Denmark, England, Spain and many other jurisdictions is demonstrating that these things are quite simply a boondoggle.
The proliferation of onshore industrial wind energy installations in Ontario to a theoretical 4.8 per cent of grid capacity has resulted in energy costs that are expected to be up about 50 per cent over the five years to the end of 2014. Offshore wind energy is approximately three times as expensive as onshore.
The ongoing air pollution crisis in China clearly demonstrates that we need a solution to burning fossil fuels, but wind energy is not it.
Ian Dubin, Central
Braemar Hill gridlock delays thousands
It is disappointing that the Chinese International School in Braemar Hill has made no response to Nigel Bruce's letter ("School should follow car-ban example", September 24) which described the very serious gridlock that occurs at the top end of Braemar Hill.
Mr Bruce has suggested that CIS should follow the example of the Repulse Bay Hong Kong International School and ban private cars from dropping off or picking up pupils. Each school day, a couple of hundred six- or eight-seater space wagons converge simultaneously on the CIS campus. Meanwhile at least a thousand, possibly two thousand, people in neighbouring educational institutions have their journeys significantly delayed as public buses and mini-buses trying to climb the hill are stuck in the gridlock.
It is especially galling when the fleet of private cars descends; invariably the professional driver is accompanied by one solitary teenager sitting in splendid isolation in the rear.
Come on Chinese International School, please inculcate a stronger notion of social responsibility into your students.
Paul Stables, North Point
Batteries solve electric car charging issue
I refer to Lynn Cheung Yuk-lam's letter ("HK not ready for electric car revolution", October 4).
The problem with there being too few charging stations can be resolved with a battery exchange scheme whereby you don't have to take your vehicle out of service to have its battery recharged in situ in the vehicle.
Instead you go to a quick-change battery exchange station to have your rundown battery exchanged for a ready charged battery, just like going to a petrol refilling station to have your car's petrol tank refilled.
If the charging station problem could not be resolved, the cities in Canada, Germany, US and the Netherlands would not have contemplated buying electric buses.
It's a vicious circle - the fewer electric cars there are, the less interest there is in investing in such battery exchange stations, just like the early days of taxis and minibuses switching to liquefied petroleum gas.
I would have thought Vauxhall's hybrid car would have made more sense, whereby a small diesel or petrol engine runs at a constant, low-emission r.p.m. to keep charging the battery.
I'm sure the in-built diesel emits far less pollutant than the power station supplying the electricity to charge the electric car's battery, unless it is a hydro-electric or nuclear power station. You only have to worry about topping up the fuel tank.
I recommend steering clear of the energy-recovery type of hybrid cars where during deceleration the electric motor becomes a generator to turn the kinetic energy into electricity to recharge the battery. It is far too complicated and expensive to maintain for now.
Fire hazard (as encountered by a Tesla S electric car recently) is less of a problem because the electricity in a ruptured battery does not spill and spread like liquid or gas fuel.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Parents should let kids enjoy 'growing up'
It is understandable that most parents nowadays want their children to be outstanding in academic performance, but parents should also give attention to their children's personal development.
It is widely acknowledged that "helicopter parents" are on the rise, with parents overprotecting their children. I believe that parents should sometimes let go of their children.
Some experts claim that overprotection would result in adverse effects on children when they grow up. Experts emphasise that this kind of inappropriate teaching and guidance may hinder the development of children. They explain that children might not be interested in what they were forced to do, and somehow they might get fed up with it.
Nowadays, many Hong Kong parents have one child only so they devote everything to that child.
Children should be left to experience their childhood and unique personal development.
Emily Wong, Tin Shui Wai
Poor education is behind lack of manners
An influx of Chinese tourists has raised concern about the manner and etiquette of Chinese. Lots of people complain that Chinese tourists are impolite, rude and uncivilised. Actually, they are not particularly rude and bad, they are only being themselves.
China is one of the earliest civilisations in the world. Confucianism emphasises li, which means propriety and etiquette in English. Everyone expects that Chinese people should be polite and civilised.
However, the behaviour of Chinese tourists fails to meet their expectation.
People are wondering why citizens from the "country of courtesy" cannot behave themselves. One of the reasons is that middle-aged Chinese received little education during the Cultural Revolution. Moral education is the only way to improve overall quality of society.
Paul Yeung, Tai Wai
Stop blaming foreigners for social discord
I refer to the comments by Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai ("'Don't be exploited by foreign diplomats'", October 6).
Ms Fan should stop blaming the foreigners for the thoughts and wishes of Hong Kong people. It is Hong Kong people that wish to elect their own leader, not the foreigners.
Most foreigners couldn't care less. If the leaders in the city stopped pandering to the bosses in Beijing for one minute and started to actually defend Cantonese culture, then there would be much "social harmony" in Hong Kong.
If the SAR government could actually make some decisions that benefited the lives of Hong Kong people, then there would be much "social harmony" again. Is this not something that the central government wants? Stop blaming the gweilos - especially the British - they left 16 years ago.
Also, Ms Fan should start defending Cantonese culture, because I see it being eradicated well before 2047.
And just remember one thing - when Ms Fan sees people waving the old colonial flag around near the border, it isn't British people or foreigners doing this, its bona fide Hong Kong Chinese people.
They are smart and maybe the flag waving is an expression of their frustration that the British, for all their faults, could make decisions that advanced the city, while the present set of Hong Kong leaders are incapable of helping their own people.
David Howarth, Kennedy Town
Locals deserve first choice of kindergartens
In response to the article ("New policy to stem preschool queues", October 12), education is crucial to pupils' development, at any age.
We can see on various media channels images of parents rushing about trying to secure a spot in kindergarten for their children, a phenomenon far from satisfactory.
The government has published a policy to help parents secure a seat for their children in one kindergarten. The intention of this policy is good for local parents, but I believe the government can take it a step further.
The tension in the North District is created by the mainland parents who snatch the opportunity from local parents and create unnecessary stress. A structured system can be established by the government instead of first come, first served. Local parent requests are to be handled first, and only after all of them have a spot, mainland parents will be allowed to apply.
Hong Kong belongs to Hongkongers. The interests of locals should be top priority instead of the economy and politics. The government should take this into account when carrying out policies.
Charmaine Li Wing-huen, Tsing Yi