Letters to the Editor, March 26, 2014
Be realistic about public nomination
I agree with University of Hong Kong academic Yash Ghai that Hongkongers need to be pragmatic ("Public nomination 'not essential'", March 22).
Our democratic legislators need to wake up because public nomination is not going to happen and their unrealistic and egotistical demands are not helping Hong Kong to create a fairer and more effective system of governance.
The debate about the election of our next chief executive effectively hinges on the interpretation of the word "broad" as applied in the statement that the nominating committee should be "broadly representative".
It seems that what the authorities want to impose is neither broad nor representative. They use the "rough, vague and imprecise" meaning of broad, whereas most Hongkongers would apply the "all embracing, inclusive, open and undisguised" meaning. The previous election committee was narrow, serving the elite, the bureaucracy and vested interests.
The myopic democrats need to become broad-minded as it is vital that the community is better represented on the nominating committee. Otherwise, a frustrated sense of disenfranchisement and possible social instability will result.
The democrats must engage in this issue of how to broaden the committee so that all sectors of society are fairly served.
I. M. Wright, Happy Valley
Trade pact will boost Taiwan's economy
I refer to the violent clashes in Taipei in the past few days when students occupied Taiwan's legislature ("Occupation of legislature was 'months in the making'", March 24).
The protesters are opposed to a bilateral services trade pact between Taiwan and Beijing.
I believe this pact is key to breaking Taiwan's self-isolation. Instead of viewing this agreement with the island's largest trading partner as a threat to domestic jobs, the pact should be perceived as an open door to more opportunities.
For instance, Taiwan's airline industry was reinvigorated after direct flights to and from the mainland started in 2008. This substantially boosted the number of destinations, and gave airlines the ability to compete with other carriers in the region. At the same time, the increased flow of people and information led to a boom in tourism.
If competitiveness is the concern, there is even more cause to liberalise the services sector. China is not the sole competitor; the world is. In today's globalised economy, the resolve to compete and upgrade continuously is crucial for upward mobility.
As for the protests, one should note that democracy is not synonymous with unlawful acts and civil disobedience. Some students proclaimed themselves "defenders of democracy", but mob-like behaviour and the paralysis of government is not a mature representation of Taiwan's international standing.
Rex T. C. Wang, Tsim Sha Tsui
Help public to report idling engines
Could the police set up a hotline for reporting cars and buses with idling engines?
I overlook one of Hong Kong's few bus parking spaces and, even in this wonderful cool weather, many is the bus that parks with its engine running so the driver can snooze with his treasured air con running at full blast.
Chris Maden, Hung Hom
Hotel's policy on uneaten food is wrong
I'm confounded at the preposterous waste of food at one grand hotel in Hong Kong.
The blueprint for sustainable use of resources for Hong Kong has a vision to waste less through instilling an environmentally sustainable culture in citizens. It hopes to accomplish that through conservation of resources and reduction of municipal waste, of which food leftovers is a major constituent.
Last week, I took four affluent overseas clients to lunch at Mistral, at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. We ordered the set lunch and three of us ordered pizza. At the end of the meal, there were three perfectly good, half-eaten pizzas left over. With waste being absurd, archaic and thoughtless, the obvious and socially responsible thing was to box up the food and give it away. So we called the waiter.
How many of us have boxed up leftovers and given them away, to be consumed by grateful street cleaners, elderly recycle ladies, and the man under the escalator?
The point of a cost-benefit analysis is that if it's taken away and consumed, there is benefit; if it's thrown away, it costs the earth resources, and Hong Kong, money.
The waiter refused. Then the manager showed us their printed policy - food could not be taken from the restaurant.
This was food that was freshly ordered and paid for - it was not part of the buffet. When asked what the hotel would do with it, the manager said it had to be thrown away.
The Environmental Protection Department says that "existing landfills will be exhausted by 2020 if waste levels continue to increase at current levels". If solutions are not "identified immediately, we could face a crisis in the next decade of having nowhere to put the thousands of tonnes of waste thrown away each day".
We produce over 3,200 tonnes of food waste daily. What good comes from bizarre policies that throw good food into our landfills, when that very food could so easily feed someone? Could someone at the Grand Stanford explain?
Ravin Melwani, Happy Valley
Urgent need for all of us to recycle
With so much food waste being generated every day in Hong Kong from businesses and households, a food waste recycling scheme is essential.
Food waste that is recycled can be turned into compost which is used as a fertiliser for plants and as pig feed. It can also be turned into fuel to generate energy.
For such a scheme to work, there would have to be enough food waste collection centres. There would also have to be promotions by the government and more education so Hongkongers came to recognise the importance of recycling.
A similar scheme has been effective in Taiwan, where nearly 2,000 tonnes a day is recycled.
Given the pressure on our landfills, recycling should be introduced as soon as possible.
Connie Tsui, Sha Tin
Honesty best policy for market traders
A Baptist University study has found that just over 16 per cent of the vegetable stalls in markets across Hong Kong's 18 districts did not provide any certification that their products marked as organic were legitimate.
I can understand why some people do this, because they can charge more for produce which they claim to be organic.
However, I think this is a short-sighted view to take. Stallholders who insist on quality of produce and being honest with customers may not make profits straight away. But, in the long run, winning the trust of shoppers and being straight with them will pay off.
The key to a successful business is to have a good reputation. Then, customers will keep coming back.
Rebecca So Hoi-kei, Sheung Shui