Letters to the Editor, May 29, 2014
Island site is perfect for eco-education
I urge those in charge of turning Lamma's former quarry into a housing estate to reconsider.
The amount and type of housing to be built at that site will not help those in greatest need.
Also, Hong Kong will lose the chance to retain one of its truly unique assets, which could serve society in other more creative ways.
Many people have suggested turning the site into an eco-education attraction, like the Eden Project built on a former quarry in Cornwall, England.
More than 5,000 signatures in support of this vision were collected from visitors to the island as they walked the path overlooking the quarry over the Easter weekend. No one wanted to see a housing estate.
An Eden Project would fulfil Lamma's planning intention and realise the goals of a 2000 Planning Department study that earmarked the quarry for eco-education, extreme sports and a range of tourist facilities that would be of major benefit to the local economy and would provide the focus needed to help clean up the environment.
The Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design has called the government's proposal a "standard track approach".
It has said that there is an opportunity to develop the site to provide local jobs, city-wide recreation and education and tourism. It pointed out that the housing proposal missed these opportunities, nor would it address Hong Kong's housing deficit.
Local community leaders have said the government should make clear its intentions for the whole island. Existing communities are certainly in need of improved services, as well as investment to support the island's role as a tourist destination.
We wonder why the study team has failed to address these concerns and so blatantly ignores any reasonable objection or alternative in its myopic pursuit of the type of property which is beyond the means of those who require housing and is too remote for those who can afford it.
When so many people, including some senior decision-makers, are so disconnected from nature that they fail to grasp the real impact of their decisions and daily habits on future generations, surely a world-class attraction that reconnects people with the planet and inspires change is just what Hong Kong needs.
Jo Wilson, chairperson, Living Lamma
HK must have a housing minister
What has become known as the "MTR fiasco" has thrown light on the heavy responsibility borne by the secretary for transport and housing.
Transport covers a large field, comprising air services, land and marine transport services, the bridge to Macau, the third runway, the tunnel to Tuen Mun, all with their various ramifications.
Then there is housing, and the well-publicised shortage of flats, the Urban Renewal Authority, the Housing Authority, the Housing Society, public and private building regulations, small houses and so on.
The lonely figure of the present transport and housing secretary with an unrelated academic background has to be accountable for this vast empire - all of which bears heavily on the lives of the good citizens of Hong Kong and their livelihood.
I rest my case without further explanation for an adjustment in the allocation of responsibilities and the appointment of an additional minister for housing.
David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei
Taiwan can help ensure peace in region
I totally agree with Frank Ching that Taiwan has an opportunity to play a regional role as a peacemaker ("Taipei's moment", May 21).
As a peace-loving country, Taiwan has the duty and obligation to address rising tensions in the region through taking a practical and rational approach.
This is in line with the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative put forth by President Ma Ying-jeou and the principles of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint development of resources.
The peace initiative will reduce tensions, promote dialogue, help to resolve disputes and ensure peace and cooperation in the region.
The initiative has helped further boost Taiwan's credentials as a peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid. This is illustrated by the country's support of Japan and the Philippines following natural disasters, as well as resolving fisheries disputes with both countries.
There is no reason why the spirit of the initiative should not apply to disputes in the South China Sea
The Republic of China government expressed serious concern over recent confrontations in the waters off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
We urge all parties neighbouring the islands and reefs to uphold the principles and spirit of international law.
They should practise self-restraint, and refrain from taking any actions that might affect peace and stability in the South China Sea.
They should also resolve disputes through peaceful dialogue in order to avoid escalating regional tensions.
Suzie Chen, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
Positive view of studies helps careers
Secondary school students in Hong Kong face enormous pressure and many have become disillusioned.
They feel that what they are studying is not enabling them to acquire the kind of knowledge that could be of practical use when they leave school and try to join the workforce.
I appreciate that much of what they are studying is theoretical and may appear to be of little use in the real world. But there are other things they need to learn to help with their overall development.
At school, they are trying to train their minds so they can acquire new knowledge. Hopefully, this will mean that they come to regard learning new knowledge as a lifelong experience that continues into adulthood, even when they are working full-time.
Having this kind of attitude can help with a career as it can make the employee more effective and more competitive.
If students can overcome the difficulties they experience with their studies in school, this will help them deal with the challenges they will face in the future.
I think young people who have managed to do this will develop more positive attitudes, have an optimistic outlook on life and be more adaptable than others.
Again, this will improve their prospects in the workplace.
Teenagers need to see beyond the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education and appreciate the benefits of long-term studying.
Shirley Sham Wing-yin, Kowloon Tong
Too much emphasis on exams
As a teenager, I am grateful that I get a free education in Hong Kong.
However, I think there is a need for the education system to be modified so that students can enjoy the whole learning process.
We all know that the system here is narrowly focused on getting results and this puts young people under too much pressure.
They have to cram for exams and are constantly being urged to work harder if they want to secure one of the limited places at a local university.
This means that teenagers spend most of their time at school preparing for the Diploma of Secondary Education examination.
They have to do a lot of homework and revise for regular tests.
They must feel that they are being turned into exam machines and this makes it difficult for them to enjoy the learning process.
Therefore, I would like to see some changes to the present education system.
Teachers and students should be focusing less on exam results.
Education is not only about these results, but should encourage students to gain more knowledge and develop their own interests.
To this end students should be encouraged to join different kinds of extracurricular activities, instead of just concentrating on their studies.
Miki Hui Nga-sze, To Kwa Wan
Incinerator proposal makes sense
An incinerator in Hong Kong will make it possible to burn a lot of rubbish that presently goes to our landfills that are nearing capacity.
The city creates large volumes of municipal solid waste every day and much of it is food waste.
It is alarming when you think about the amount of food waste that is being dumped in landfills and therefore it is no surprise that they are close to saturation.
The government wants to expand landfills and build a proposed incinerator, but I would prefer to the see the landfills closed.
I have read press reports about a particularly bad smell coming from the Tseung Kwan O facility last June.
The unpleasant odour from landfills is a long-term problem for nearby residents and of course they complain that it affects the quality of life.
They have therefore opposed proposals to expand the sites.
I think the use of incinerators can be an integral part of a policy of sustainable development.
They incinerate the waste and the burning process can generate energy.
Ivan Chan Ka-yau, Sha Tin