Letters to the Editor, October 18, 2013
Criticism of Aquino media grilling unfair
I am furious at Mr Jake van der Kamp's suggestion ("Journalists out of line with Aquino", October 10) that Hong Kong people should leave behind us the cold-blooded killing of eight Hong Kong tourists in Manila and the gross mishandling by the Philippine government three years ago.
Van der Kamp criticised the Hong Kong media who fired questions at Mr Aquino at the Apec meeting as being "out of line" because "this is offensive to the entire population of the Philippines". Really? Then what about our Chief Executive Mr Leung Chun-ying being sidelined and embarrassed in his meeting with the Philippine president?
What about their refusal to allow the Hong Kong media to cover the meeting while unilaterally releasing the content of dialogue to the Philippine media?
It is true that Hong Kong has lost its status as an economic jewel in Asia since the handover, and it is sad to see that the Hong Kong government has repeatedly failed to stand up for its people. But we, as individual Hong Kong people, can do something. Over the past three years, for example, I have not hired a Filipino maid, travelled to the country or bought any products that I know are from the Philippines.
There is no need to take to the street or chant slogans. All we need is to boycott it, and do so quietly and resolutely.
Even if this still cannot force the Philippine government to budge, so what? At least we can gain back our dignity.
Rodger Lee, Tung Chung
Guide dogs for blind is matter of urgency
Despite the large number of totally blind people in Hong Kong, there are just six guide dogs available ("Training to unleash possibilities for the blind", October 3).
It is high time for us to give a helping hand to rectify this unsatisfactory situation. The Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association has already taken its first step, sending two Hongkongers to Britain to receive two years' specialist training in the hope that they will become the core professionals after graduation. Such a proactive attitude is really remarkable.
However, not only are the organisation's efforts important, but help from all of us is also vital. Guide dogs need to be trained and bred in a suitable homestay before they can be designated to work for visually impaired people.
There are also some ways for the government to help. Firstly, it can co-operate with the media so as to publicise the importance of guide dogs. The government can also support the people who adopt guide dogs by subsidising them for the expenditure.
Given that the needs of the blind are so urgent, none of us should shy away from helping with the shortage of guide dogs.
Wong Hoi-wing, Sha Tin
Ban on forced shopping is welcome
I am writing in response to the report on a mainland law which aims to protect tourists from forced shopping and took effect on October 1 ("Ban on forced shopping hits takings in HK stores", October 2). Before the law took effect, forced shopping on mainland tourists was quite common in Hong Kong.
The tourists were asked to shop in the stores to which travel agencies brought them. If tourists refused to buy anything, they might be locked in stores for hours or they might be scolded by tourist guides.
The reason there was forced shopping was that travel agencies would use low prices or even a free tour to attract mainland tourists to join. In order to make a profit, travel agencies would co-operate with stores. They would force tourists to buy and travel agencies would profit from commissions paid by the stores.
It is good that a law has been set up to protect tourists. Travel agencies can no longer use low prices or free tours to attract people to join. When the tour prices become normal, tourists may think twice before joining the tour.
Besides, they can visit other tourist spots rather than stores in Hong Kong. The tourists can experience more of the special culture of Hong Kong by visiting different locations. The number of complaints will decrease due to the prohibition of forced shopping and Hong Kong tourism's image will not be badly affected anymore.
However, the shops that rely heavily on mainland tourists will be affected. The profits made by those shops will decrease too. But I believe that, although the shops earn less money, they still can make a decent profit.
I really hope the development of tourism in Hong Kong and the stores will benefit in the long term from this new law.
Xavier Chong, Tsuen Wan
Camping on Lamma beach is unlawful
I wish to express concern and appeal for action over the high incidence of flagrant unlawful camping on Lamma Island's Hung Shing Yeh beach, which is a government-controlled beach under the responsibility of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
During the days of the Chinese October "golden week", I spotted camps daily when I went to Hung Shing Yeh beach between 7am and 8am.
I reported the unlawful activities to the Lamma police several times and each time they responded and sent officers to handle the campers.
However, the police pointed out that it's really the job of the leisure department to handle the matter of their beaches.
I heard from the police and also some of these illegal campers that they were tourists from mainland. They said they did not know it was illegal to camp on Hung Shing Yeh beach; in fact they learned about the recommended camping on this and other beaches from some public websites.
The cleanliness and hygiene on Hung Shing Yeh beach has deteriorated badly in the last year, particularly when tourists and illegal campers left a great deal of rubbish and debris around the washroom facilities.
I want to ask the relevant authorities - Hong Kong Police, the leisure department, Tourism Bureau and the local district board - if such flagrant illegal camping on public swimming beaches is condoned. If not, what has been done to stop and prevent its occurrence?
Wing Leung, Yung Shue Wan
Bringing your own lunch box can cut waste
I have an idea that will make a difference to Hong Kong's waste: carry your own lunch box. Hong Kong did a very good job with promoting "bring your own shopping bag". This is the same idea.
When you go to buy lunch, instead of getting the traditional foam box, give them your lunch box and let them put the food in that. The shop saves money and there's less waste. Win, win.
It won't effect the portion size of the meal as the shops know how much to serve.
Ross Clarkson, Sai Kung
Floating an idea for cleaner fuel
I refer to Kenneth Chu's letter regarding liquefied natural gas supply ("New gas terminal could promise future of cheap fuel bills", October 6).
A recent development suited to Hong Kong is environmentally friendly and relatively low-cost compared with the billions needed for a land-based receiving terminal. It consists of using a floating storage and regasification unit, which is a ship that stores LNG and re-gasifies it. Such a ship only requires a mooring point, often in the middle of the ocean, and pipelines to shore where gas is used or further distributed.
In the event of a typhoon, the ship can sail to open waters. Since it cannot then supply gas, it is best employed where there is also pipeline gas supply. CLP, Hong Kong Electric and Towngas all already import gas directly from the mainland.
Such a ship would hardly be visible. It could connect to power stations and also hook up to the Towngas grid.
In the latter case, Hong Kong could abandon the current wasteful, costly and dirty practice of downgrading clean methane (burned directly all over the world) to low-quality town gas.
Consumers' appliances would have to be modified, but this was done for all the UK when North Sea gas was introduced. Then gas supply to consumers could be separated from ownership of the delivery pipelines, and supply competition introduced, leading to the usual competitive benefits.
LNG might also be barged to vessels in the harbour to replace dirty fuel oil, and to the Tsing Yi oil and gas terminals, then further distributed to operators of vehicles such as buses and trucks that presently use diesel.
Hong Kong would benefit from cleaner air and lower costs. And it would start to circumvent the current Chinese supply duopoly, thereby giving Hong Kong gas buyers some negotiating leverage.
Tom Young, Sham Tseng
Finding fault in a similar housing policy
The consistent policy of the pan-democrats to challenge the monopoly of local property developers over ever-rising housing costs has hitherto won public support.
Strangely enough, the policy of the chief executive now directed at the same aim has failed to win the support of lawmakers who are trying to find fault with it one way or the other.
Fortunately, members of the public have now expressed full support for the new measures against a minority of the business community with vested interests. To recover public confidence, those lawmakers should reverse their fault-finding stance with constructive ideas in support of a good housing policy in the public interest.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong