Letters to the Editor, April 21, 2014

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 3:11am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 3:14am

Waste tax offers cheap solution

I strongly agree with the proposal by the Hong Kong government to impose a waste charge on all Hongkongers.

Firstly, with regard to landfill saturation in Hong Kong, the government has proposed to extend the three landfills and to build incinerators to solve the waste problem.

In discussions over landfill extensions, some have talked of possible compensation for residents who have to live near it. However, compensation for waste disposal and treatment projects can prove complicated and officials may argue that it would not be feasible.

More importantly, no matter how large the proposed extended landfill area is, it will eventually be filled.

As for the proposal to build incinerators, dioxin emission is a cause for concern as carcinogenic chemicals could harm residents nearby and increase air pollution. Plus, the implementation costs would be high.

Some green groups have estimated that the introduction of a waste charge would lead to a 10 per cent reduction in waste.

This tax would be cheaper to implement than building incinerators and would avoid the problem of landfill saturation. Green groups have suggested a HK$30 levy per bag of rubbish, which would not be a huge financial burden on citizens.

It has been suggested that there should be a scheme to reward households that reduce their waste. I think this is a positive way to tackle the problem.

Ultimately, I believe the advantages of a waste charge will outweigh any negative aspects.

Fion Sy Hoi-ki, Kowloon Tong


Expansion will eat into limited land supply

The Hong Kong government says that there is a shortage of land available for residential housing and yet it is proposing to extend three landfills.

This would not only eat into land supply but would also lead to bad smells near residential areas, toxic chemicals potentially entering the environment and a greater carbon footprint though increased rubbish transportation.

This is the wrong approach. More effort should be put into reducing waste and fewer resources should be devoted to storing waste.

Hong Kong's waste management approach is illogical. Singapore burns most of its waste and uses some of the ash created for reclamation. If Singapore can do it, why can't we?

A successful person looks for solutions but an unsuccessful person looks for excuses.

Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho


Laws against laundering money in force

I refer to the report ("'Dirty money' probes up sharply", April 14), in which you quote Julian Russell, director of Pacific Risk, as saying "Most criminals launder their own money through offshore companies registered in places like the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands".

The British Virgin Islands is not a money laundering centre. In fact on some levels the BVI's exposure is diminished as a result of the territory's making the deliberate decision not to become a major banking jurisdiction.

Moreover, the British Virgin Islands has for more than 20 years been involved in international co-operation matters by providing mutual legal assistance to combat money laundering and other financial crimes and has an extensive regime of legislation to facilitate international co-operation.

The British Virgin Islands was one of the first jurisdictions to introduce anti-money-laundering legislation back in 1999 and has comprehensive anti-money-laundering laws. It adopts stringent rules on know-your-customer due diligence consistent with the Financial Action Task Force's 40 recommendations.

The law in the BVI relating to countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism is contained in several acts and codes, currently consisting of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act of 1992, the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act of 1997, the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act of 1993, and the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice 2008 and The Anti-Money Laundering Regulations 2008.

These laws have been effective in the fight against financial crime, as pointed out in the book, Global Shell Games: Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime and Terrorism (Michael G. Findley, Daniel L. Nielson and J. C. Sharman, 2014). Our laws stand up when put to the test.

The book says, "One of the most surprising results of the study is that the tax havens that have long been suspected to be weak links in the global financial systems are among the most law-abiding countries anywhere in the world".

The same study pointed out that these countries commonly referred to as "tax havens" often had the highest levels of compliance when compared to the large majority of developed countries.

Casting unfounded aspersions and applying negative nomenclatures on smaller and less powerful financial centres is not in line with the spirit of international co-operation to combat money laundering and other financial crimes globally.

Elise Donovan, director, BVI House Asia


Only some democrats are not welcome

I for one was dumfounded to read the headline ("Pan-dems not ruled out of 2017 election", April 14), as if it's some earth-shattering new discovery.

Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, made it clear last year that the door of welcome was open to the pan-democrats for the election of chief executive in 2017, as long as they loved the country and Hong Kong.

His comments were widely reported.

Only some are unwelcome, such as "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, who tried to enter Shanghai on April 13 with his June 4 paraphernalia, and those who aborted that meeting with the Beijing officials in protest against Leung being denied entry to Shanghai with those offensive, self-righteous articles. Who do they think they are?

It is wrong to argue that restricting nominations to those by the nomination committee is depriving some people of the right to stand for election.

The nomination committee will have considered all those among the population who might be suitable candidates.

In that way everybody will have exercised the right to stand for election despite some being screened out.

On the other hand, allowing public nomination in parallel would also be screening out some people, particularly if political parties are involved in the nominating.

In any case, universal suffrage is by definition about the right to vote only.

Hong Kong will not be more ungovernable if the pan-democrats should block the 2017 election in Legco, because it already cannot be more ungovernable.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan


Government opening door to nepotism

I refer to the report ("Plan to extend retirement age sparks fears", April 5).

Once again, the Hong Kong government has attempted to dodge the issue of imposing a mandatory retirement age in this "world-class city".

Companies can still discriminate on the basis of age through mandatory retirement.

They are allowed to reduce salaries, benefits and working hours for employment extension beyond their self-imposed age limits.

In most developed countries, this would contradict human rights legislation and be regarded as a discriminatory practice based on age.

Permitting employment extension beyond the age of 60 for civil service workers that is based upon an annual assessment and supervisory approval is wrong.

The government is opening the door to nepotism, favouritism, and corruption. Not to mention the undue pressure on employees to gain favour in the hopes of continued employment.

The government hopes this will extend to the private sector. Great.

The government should be for the people, not big business. Give the people of Hong Kong a legislated retirement age of 65, so that families can plan for their future.

Hong Kong SAR legislators, open your eyes: the year is 2014.

Bob Gates, Hung Hom


Watchdog is now needed for charities

Every Saturday you see different charitable groups asking for donations on the streets, some with a designated flag day.

There are times when you want to give, but know nothing about the organisation and therefore you are not sure if it is genuine. People who have these doubts will often decide reluctantly not to make a contribution.

I think it would be a good idea for Hong Kong's charities to join a government register.

At the moment there is not a formal registration set-up and charities can be incorporated as companies, trusts or societies.

This can make it difficult sometimes to decide if a group is a real charity.

I would also like to see a centralised watchdog which would monitor all the different organisations and deal with those which are bogus.

This kind of regulatory framework can help to restore public confidence in groups which are doing important charitable work to help those in need.

It is important that there should be transparency when it comes to a charity's finances so that people who give know that the money is going to those who need it.

This makes it easier to expose fraudulent acts.

Wang Tsz-man, Tseung Kwan O