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Letters to the Editor, November 6, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:46am

Fears peaceful protest could turn violent

I agree with the core purpose of the Occupy Central movement that Hong Kong people should be entitled to choose their chief executive through genuine universal suffrage.

However, I am concerned about what will happen when it launches its protest next year.

The founders of the movement have talked about peaceful protests against the government.

However, there is always a risk that such a large-scale event could become disorderly and turn violent. This would be bad for the city's economy and could damage its global reputation.

If that reputation is compromised, then it could adversely affect the tourism and services sectors, which are very important parts of this international finance centre. We could suffer substantial economic losses.

I am also concerned about links with some politicians in Taiwan ("Business groups 'worried' by Occupy co-founder's meeting in Taiwan", October 29).

I would not support any actions being taken which could undermine "one country, two systems".

Hong Kong people should negotiate with the central government to handle any potential conflicts within the country, rather than seeking any outside help and this includes universal suffrage.

We need to have rational discussions with the SAR and central governments.

Christina Leung Ka-yu,Kwai Chung


Group must provide more information

The Occupy Central movement is proving to be controversial.

People who support it have claimed that it is their last resort to pursue genuine universal suffrage.

Some of them have even compared the movement to the non-violent civil disobedience campaign led by Mahatma Gandhi which eventually resulted in India achieving independence.

They argue any attempt by the administration to prohibit the movement's activities would be an infringement of basic civil rights in Hong Kong.

To a certain extent, they are right to say so. Our freedom of expression and right to protest are protected by the Basic Law, but it is important to point out we can enjoy these rights only on the condition that they are exercised in a lawful and peaceful manner. Opponents of the movement have voiced concerns that, when the planned protest is held, it could end in violent confrontation.

Given the current political atmosphere, I believe their worries are completely justified. But repressing activities merely on the presumption they will turn into social disorder is like fighting against an imaginary enemy. It may further intensify the conflict between the two sides and would be politically unwise. Hong Kong is a pluralistic society; we should uphold our core value of mutual respect.

To clear up the concerns some people have about their intentions, the movement's organisers should provide more details about their blueprint for political reform. They should also outline what contingency plans they have if the protests they are planning get out of control. In this way, they are likely to gain more public support and put pressure on the administration for genuine consultation.

I believe that, on our way towards universal suffrage, the means are just as important as the end.

Stanley Ip, Tseung Kwan O


Officials need to rethink role of biodiesel

There are some encouraging signs that the government is beginning to recognise our local waste-to-biodiesel industry as an excellent already-working model of what it hopes to achieve more broadly for recycling and food waste in Hong Kong.

But I must disagree with the Environmental Protection Department's ongoing assertion that the introduction of biodiesel will have little impact on roadside emissions ("Biodiesel maker pushes product use in market", October 28). Surely, given the World Health Organisation's recent pronouncement that air pollution is a leading cause of cancer, no government can afford to ignore any positive incremental impact.

The department's position that Euro V fossil diesel is as good an alternative as biodiesel (EN14214 standard) is misleading. While some parameters of Euro V fossil diesel (such as sulphur content) are equal to those of EN14214 biodiesel, the fundamental difference between the two is that biodiesel contains oxygen. This means it burns more completely, producing fewer emissions.

The department's position is also not supported by the science. Nearly 100 scientific studies conducted on a wide variety of engines in the past decade have confirmed that biodiesel reduces most roadside emissions. B20 (a 20 per cent blend of biodiesel) has been shown to reduce particulate emissions, unburned hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide by 10 to 20 per cent compared to fossil diesel.

The reduction in particulate emissions occurs across the range of particle sizes, including the very dangerous PM2.5 particles that are known to cause heart and lung disease, cancer, and respiratory infections. Nitrous-oxide emissions have been shown to be essentially unchanged for blends of B20 or lower. B20 also lowers emissions of the cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydro-carbons by 15 to 20 per cent.

I do not think these reductions can be called insignificant or marginal and I would encourage the department to review the science again. While we fully support the scheme to retire old diesel vehicles, we note it will take until 2020 and cost HK$10 billion.

Meanwhile, biodiesel is another tool in the clean air toolbox that we could be putting to work right now without the need for subsidies and with only a 1 to 2 per cent increase in fuel prices.

Locally produced biodiesel also comes with the added benefits of significant greenhouse-gas reductions and the safe disposal of one of our waste streams.

Anthony Dixon, chief executive officer, ASB Biodiesel


Pointless wait for golf clubs at airport

As a 17-year resident of Hong Kong, and a diamond card holder with Cathay Pacific, I am accustomed to wonderful service at Hong Kong airport and on Cathay flights.

Why is it, then, that whenever I return to Hong Kong with a set of golf clubs, I need to wait an extra 20 or 30 minutes to retrieve them from the oversized luggage location?

Many airports, such as Incheon, South Korea, deliver the clubs on the same carousel as normal luggage and almost all airports deliver them more efficiently than Hong Kong. Can this please be fixed?

Michael DeSombre, Stanley


Appoint more staff to check on neon signs

The government has to allocate more resources to tackle a roadside ticking time bomb that is waiting to explode.

The government has been criticised for insufficient checks on neon signs on buildings and this has raised concerns about lack of regular maintenance and safety.

We were made more aware of the problem following the incident last month in Nathan Road ("Swinging sign causes traffic chaos in Mong Kok", October 29). Luckily, it did not fall and no pedestrians were hurt, but traffic was disrupted for more than six hours.

This should be a wake-up call for the government and I hope it will act.

It must appoint more staff to undertake checks so that any signs where there is a potential risk are removed. The administration should not wait until a tragedy occurs.

Susie Li, Tai Wai


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This article is now closed to comments

Re: Biodiesel
It takes energy to convert biomass to biodiesel. The EROEI (energy return on energy invested) is not very efficient. There is still carbon footprint involved in the conversion. I only see advantage in making some practical use of local food waste (rather than going into landfill). I think a better way to make good use of local food waste is to promote local farming and local composting concurrently. Composting, if done correctly is a natural organic process, and have no carbon footprint. Local farming will results in less reliance on food import (reducing transportation gas consumption and roadside pollution).
From the BD Website: "No person shall carry out any building works, including the erection of signboards or TV displays, without obtaining prior approval of plans and consent to commence works from the Building Authority (BA). An authorized person (AP) should be appointed to coordinate and supervise the works, which should only be carried out by registered contractors," the spokesman reminded the public
"To facilitate persons to erect signboards in compliance with the statutory and safety requirements through the proper procedures, BD has since June 2003 implemented a fast-track system for processing building plans of proposed new signboards submitted to BD for approval. The department will process the submission within 30 days," "To curb the proliferation of newly erected unauthorized signboards, BD has appointed private consultant firms to carry out inspections within 48 hours of receiving any complaints relating to unauthorized building works (including signboards) under construction. The consultants also carry out patrol inspections in various busy districts and take photographic records of signboards. BD will issue removal orders under the Buildings Ordinance to the owners concerned to remove any large unauthorized signboards found to be under construction or newly erected during inspection. Owners who, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with such removal orders may be prosecuted and are liable on conviction to a maximum penalty of a fine of $200,000 and impri
So,if you see any, photograph them and report them. Don't just moan to the press.
PCC/Susie - there is a better way. When vehicles are re-licensed every year, proof of insurance must be provided. Do the same for Business registrations for companies with signs. Let the insurance industry be responsible for the inspections and/or repair costs
after an insurance policy is issued. This way Government inspectors only need to validate that there is insurance cover. The insurance company will assess the risk and charge accordingly, or deny coverage. If denied, the company cannot re-register.


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