Letters to the Editor, November 13, 2013
Think tank cannot clean up bad air
There have been calls for Hong Kong and neighbouring authorities to establish a regional think tank to tackle air pollution in the Pearl River Delta.
I do not think this is a feasible suggestion. I believe it would end up being a committee with no teeth and therefore could do little to clean up the bad air of the delta region.
There is no doubt that there must be co-operation between the Hong Kong and mainland governments to deal with this serious problem. But the administrative structures and the way they are run are very different on either side of the border.
In Guangdong province alone there are many cities which are within the delta region.
I do not see how a think tank could bring together all these local authorities and ensure effective co-operation.
It would be a very complicated process and such an organisation is unlikely to be effective.
There are already many environmentalists in the region who are concerned about this issue and who have ideas about how to deal with it.
I do not see how this think tank would be any more successful at getting regional authorities to change their policies.
Unless this organisation actually had legal powers to force officials to take action to reduce pollution levels, there is little it can do.
The serious air pollution in the Pearl River Delta region is very complicated, as it is also affected by what is happening in other regions in China.
Therefore, just having an organisation which confines itself to addressing issues in the delta is not going to help us deal with issues that go beyond the region.
Angel Cheung Kin-yi, Sha Tin
Improvement work on toilets is under way
The Star Ferry wishes to respond to Hans Wergin's letter ("Central Star Ferry toilets disgusting", November 11).
Mr Wergin's comments are well noted, and we have repeatedly reported the same complaints to related government departments as the government is the responsible party for the remedial/improvement works to be done for the pier toilets.
Over the past six months, the relevant department has secured funding for the works, and some repair works on sewage blockage have already been done. Having checked the progress of the work, we were told by the department that sewage defects had been fixed, work on the toilet ceiling would also be done in two weeks, and improvement works on the automatic flushing system and ventilation would be done within this financial year.
The cleaning frequency in the toilets has already been improved.
We shall keep monitoring the progress of the improvement and remedial work.
Pally Tsang, Star Ferry
Threat of sanctions must now be lifted
As the Philippines mourns the deaths of thousands of its citizens, perhaps it is time for Hong Kong to reach out and aid a country that serves this city daily.
Sanctions must be forgotten and the arm of friendship extended.
It is time for humanity to heal the hurt that both peoples have suffered.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Time to ban trade in all ivory products
Increased publicity in recent months tells us that one elephant is killed by poachers every 15 minutes and, at the current rate, there may be none left within the next 10 years.
Increased activity by border and customs controls indicates that most of the demand for ivory comes from China and there appears to be no let-up.
Education and efforts to stamp out corruption will lower this demand, but is there time for this?
Hong Kong has, for many years, been a centre for the ivory trade. The time has come when the government must take a firm lead and ban the sale of, and trade in, all ivory products, no matter whether the ivory is said to be new or old.
This must be followed up by strong action by the authorities to enforce this ban with very tough penalties imposed on those who flout it.
By sitting back and allowing this trade to continue, Hong Kong has blood on its hands and, if the elephants become extinct, it will be blood that can never be washed away.
Colin Dawson, Central
Surely market thrives on competition
Having listened to explanations from the government on the free-to-air licence controversy, I wonder if the rejection of the bid by Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) is good for competition.
Teachers keep telling us that competition brings progress. It enables our society to move forward. The stronger firms survive and the weaker players leave the market. However, our government seems to take the opposite view.
Also, because we have not had a detailed explanation, there is a feeling of mistrust in the administration. It talked about HKTV having less financial support [from a parent company]. But why should that mean it would not do well?
Look at the present situation with free-to-air licences. TVB has strong financial support, but there is much room for improvement when it comes to the quality of its programmes. I am not satisfied by the government's explanation.
Stephanie Leung Chi-yau, Fanling
Removing channels is not improvement
PCCW basically supplies B-movies that are 20 to 30 years old, or C-movies that are five to 10 years old.
In between, they screen the odd blockbuster to have something to show off with in the commercials for their services.
I recently received a letter from PCCW informing me, once again, that they are seeking to improve the quality of their services by reducing the number of TV channels, this time by removing MGM.
About six months ago, they removed another film channel. Why would that improve the quality?
In most of the civilised world, you can record, stop and preselect programmes with the decoder.
Why can't you do that with PCCW in Hong Kong?
With the worst offer imaginable, PCCW got a free-to-air licence while HKTV, widely assumed to be vastly superior, did not. I cannot imagine why.
Sven Erik Topp, Lantau
Helping people to deal with tragic loss
Earlier this month, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang lost a brother to suicide.
Suicides are just another item on the news until you can put a human face to the tragedy. Mrs Chan, a well-known public figure, and her family are bereaved by the inexpressible tragedy of her brother's suicide.
It is a tragedy unlike any other as it floods the bereaved with questions that all start with "Why?" and a mixture of guilt, shame, powerlessness and the heartbreaking question: "What could I have done?"
It is to support all these bereaved families and friends that the Hong Kong Samaritans has organised the International Survivors' Day Conference on Saturday, November 23, in Central.
For information on this event, call 2896 0000 or e-mail (Jo@Samaritans.org.hk).
Deborah Crouch, director, The Samaritans Hong Kong Hotline