Letters to the Editor, May 10, 2014
End functional constituency system
The article by senior counsel Johnny Mok on the nomination process for the chief executive election is interesting ("Broad mandate", May 5).
However, it is marred by one critical oversight. He suggests the nomination committee must seek a capitalist balance of representation analogous to that provided in the Legislative Council by the functional constituencies, and so be dominated by forces that could actually deny a candidate, favoured by a majority of the Hong Kong population, the right to stand for election.
He forgets that the "gradual and orderly progression" foreseen by the Basic Law is intended to lead to the ultimate abolition of functional constituencies.
This is very sensible, as a major reason why there is conflict between the government and Hong Kong people, and a perception of "government-business collusion", is that vested interests are so well protected by the current system.
Why lock ourselves into a set-up for chief executive nomination that will perpetuate the very systemic problem we should be trying to eliminate?
The functional constituency system is actually dysfunctional. It diminishes competition and the power of the market; it diminishes the respect in which government is held; and it diminishes us all by continuing to align us with some of the worst states in history - Italy and Germany in the 1930s - which loved such systems.
Hong Kong really deserves to be liberated from this system, which has far outlived its usefulness and now only serves to divide us.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Incineration plans are outdated
Thanks to Elsie Tu for enlightening readers on the history of incineration plans for Hong Kong's waste ("Incinerator benefits must be explained", May 2).
It is evident that bureaucratic intransigence, inertia or ineptitude was the reason for the urban councillors' seemingly wasted fact-finding-trip to incineration facilities in Japan and Singapore over 25 years ago.
Many people who have written on various aspects of the Shek Kwu Chau project consider that the Environmental Protection Department is now still endeavouring to implement those 25-year-old incineration plans, though at that time the government had expressed no intention to use a pristine island and an unjustifiably expensive reclamation as the site for the incinerator. I strongly doubt that our then-earnest urban councillors would ever have supported such a nonsensical scheme.
However, Mrs Tu must realise that in a quarter of a century waste management technology has moved forward, and incineration is no longer the solution that it was once considered. Scientific research and experience have revealed practical and health drawbacks.
History has repeated itself although this time it was legislative councillors who were recently taken to Europe on a waste management fact-finding mission. But the department's apparent purpose was to convince them of its outdated incineration plans, rather than expose them to more modern and effective options.
The New Territories Concern Group recently made such a visit, and returned enthused by the strong merits of plasma-gas arc technology, and unconvinced by incineration as a present-day solution.
I agree with Dr Martin Williams' letter ("Officials have failed to convince public about merits of incinerator", May 1). We need to know if the government, and/or its professional project consultants, are bound by contractual penalty clauses if the incineration project at Shek Kwu Chau is shelved.
Otherwise it is difficult to understand the Environment Bureau's stringent stance in supporting yesterday's solutions in the face of so much logical and reasonable public opposition.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Owners of buildings waste energy
I refer to Robert Allender's Concrete Analysis column ("Building owners must care about HK's power future", April 30).
The accompanying photo shows light pollution in Central, with the tops of several buildings overlit with either a strip of bright light or a searchlight - energy going sideways or upwards. The caption reads, "Hong Kong's iconic buildings need plenty of energy to light up the night sky." When wasted energy is labelled "iconic", it remains wasted energy.
Allender says buildings use 90 per cent of the city's electricity. Has anyone measured how much of that 90 per cent goes to external lighting until midnight or even dawn?
How much coal or gas must be burned to continue that waste of electricity?
Michael J. Sloboda, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hongkongers must tolerate tourists
There has been heated debate on both sides of the border over a picture taken of a toddler being allowed to urinate in a busy Mong Kok street.
The child's mother then tried to grab the memory card of the person taking the picture to prevent it going online.
Increasing clashes between mainland visitors and Hong Kong citizens show that huge cultural differences exist.
Both sides have to take some responsibility for these confrontations. The parents said they could not find a toilet.
I understand the problems in this regard when having to join a long queue for a toilet in a busy shopping mall. However, at the very least they could have ensured the child had a nappy.
While I am critical of the parents, it was wrong for anyone to take a photograph of the child, who is innocent and was not at fault.
Hongkongers are in general hospitable and helpful, and rather than taking a picture, people could have tried to help the couple locate a toilet and pointed out that allowing a child to relieve himself in a public place is not considered acceptable. As I say, it is important to try to be hospitable and show understanding.
We should remember how important it is to leave a good impression with tourists.
The government must ensure there are enough public toilets in Hong Kong.
It should also publish a brochure on the dos and don'ts in Hong Kong so that tourists learn what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
Hongkongers and mainlanders come from the same nation. We should learn to respect and appreciate each other. We do not want to see conflicts, which lead to polarisation.
Hong Kong citizens ought to promote their culture in a peaceful way.
Rachel Yeung, Kowloon Bay
Reduce quota of individual travellers
Recent disputes between Hongkongers and mainlanders have centred on allegations of unhygienic behaviour by visitors from north of the border.
The problem was made worse by the photo of a toddler relieving himself in a street in Mong Kok being circulated on the internet, which led to a great deal of discussion online. These disputes appear to be getting worse.
This problem has to be dealt with and the first step is education. The message should be got across to tourists about what is not acceptable behaviour.
The government must also review the individual visitor scheme. It has led to an influx of mainland tourists and this has been in part responsible for high rents and shortages of some essential products in some areas of Hong Kong.
If the quota for individual travellers is reduced, we will see fewer disputes between visitors and local residents.
Vicky Chan Hei-ling, Ho Man Tin
Traffic wardens failing to act
I refer to the letter by Ken McGowan ("Zigzag lines help protect pedestrians", May 5).
He is absolutely correct that frequent parking on what is supposed to be a restricted zone will result, eventually, in loss of life.
He refers to enforcement of the law [on pedestrian crossings] in Britain. In London there exists an army of traffic enforcement officers who do exactly what their job description entails.
In Hong Kong, we have the laziest traffic enforcement force.
It is probably easier to observe an enforcement officer zigzag his way to avoid doing his job, than see an offending motorist actually fined for illegal parking.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Shocking response to acrobat plunge
I refer to the report ("Acrobats hurt in plunge as circus rig collapses", May 6). This was a shocking accident, with 11 people being injured.
What I also found shocking was the reported response from a class-action lawyer who obviously saw large dollar signs when he envisaged "the possibility of claims being filed on behalf of children who could have been traumatised".
It appears that in litigious America, every event and eventuality presents an opportunity for blatant money-grabbing, rather than compassion.
The US is certainly no model society and it seems that its morality is also collapsing.
J. F. Kay, Lai Chi Kok