Letters to the Editor, May 31, 2014

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 4:43am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 4:43am

Cost-effective option should be chosen

I refer to the letter by Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection ("Proposed incinerator will meet latest EU emission standards", May 26).

Your correspondent demonstrates again why Martin Williams' point about officials' unconvincing arguments is correct ("Officials have failed to convince public about merits of incinerator", May 1).

Mr Au simply restates the long-held government position and ignores the many valid questions posed over the past few months.

If the proposed incinerator is no threat to public health, why has the government selected a site in a remote (unspoilt) location off the coast of south Lantau rather than the other shortlisted site at the Tsang Tsui ash lagoons near Tuen Mun, which could be in operation sooner and at a much lower cost?

Mr Au need not repeat the usual line that there has been a full site selection process. However, he should spell out clearly the reasons why he recommends spending more time and taxpayers' money on a substantial industrial-scale public facility so the public can be assured the site selection decision was based on objective criteria and not on political expediency.

It is surely the duty of every government department to select the most cost-effective option for any project so that Hong Kong's Capital Works Reserve Fund can be prolonged for as long as possible.

In this regard, the public should be told clearly how much extra money will be required to build and operate an incinerator on an artificial island close to Shek Kwu Chau rather than at the Tsang Tsui ash lagoons.

Chan Fung-chun, Sai Wan Ho


Clarify reasons for incinerator site selection

I have a problem with the government's plan to build a waste incinerator on an artificial island attached to pristine Shek Kwu Chau (next to Cheung Chau, where I live with my family).

If it is as safe as government officials say it's going to be, why not build it on existing land in the city? One of Hong Kong's last pristine islands would not be despoiled and the chance of accidents in busy shipping channels would be reduced. And, if the incinerator is built near a landfill, the cost and risk of moving tonnes of ash long distances will be reduced.

It seems to me the only reason to build the incinerator in a remote place is if it is going to spew smoke and toxins. The Environmental Protection Department should say if the incinerator will produce toxins and pollutants or not.

If yes, please don't build it less than 5km away from my garden and where my two small children are growing up.

If no, can't we please build it where it will do less damage to the environment?

Dan Carew, Cheung Chau


Free sports would hurt pay-TV firms

Viewers in Hong Kong find it very frustrating when all or most of a major world sporting event is shown on paid-for television channels. This has happened with the winter and summer Olympic Games and previous soccer World Cups [with free-to-air channels getting limited or no coverage].

There is a growing demand for the government to introduce legislation to ensure that these internationally important sporting events can be watched by all Hong Kong viewers free of charge. However, I disagree with this argument.

Hong Kong is a capitalist city and the government should not interfere with lawful business deals. Satellite and cable TV firms spend millions of dollars to get exclusive deals on things such as the World Cup, and the government should not interfere when they have won a bid. This is free trade and blocking it would be wrong.

Why should people be allowed to see top events free of charge when people attending them have to pay a lot for tickets?

If the whole of the Olympics or World Cup was on free-to-air channels, then Now TV and i-Cable would find it more difficult to sell their packages to potential subscribers.

If the government felt that, for example, Hongkongers should be allowed to see all World Cup matches on free-to-air channels, then it should join the bidding process along with the pay-TV companies.

Justin Chan, Hung Hom


Extremism stems from despair

In Tibet they self-immolate. Imagine the sense of frustration and outrage that leads to such an act. And the philosophy behind it - not to harm another being.

I do not condone such actions, as how could one condone suicide?

Now turn to Xinjiang , where some soul-searching is needed from both sides of the extremist camps: those who jailed [Uygur scholar] Ilham Tohti, and those who bomb and knife indiscriminately.

Who comes out as being superior in this triangle of tragedy, arrogance and despair? Whatever answer you give, therein lies whatever "truth" there is. And maybe my truth will be different from yours. Should I kill you, or jail you, for that?

What is a dangerous person? Or rather, who? What behaviour justifies loss of liberty, or life? John Stuart Mill had a lot to say about this; most notably, perhaps, that it is no more right to silence one man than it is for one man to silence all the rest.

While l am not absolutely certain about the merits or otherwise of democracy per se, I do not believe in absolute power for one individual or entity. I believe in two fundamental principles - freedom of speech and the rule of law.

Ultimately, when people generally do not regard their government as legitimate, there is a revolution. There cannot be peace or stability forever under a dictatorship.

Dictatorship is just another form of extremism, and spawns its own enemies. It strangles hope. And from the ashes of hope rises despair and the tragedies it breeds.

Jon Fearon-Jones, Macau


Democrats should abstain in 2017 election

I fail to see how the Occupy Central movement is a democratic process. Perhaps 500 or so ardent supporters can disrupt commercial life in Hong Kong, but what does that prove?

In terms of universal suffrage, we are told we will all have a vote for the chief executive for 2017 but that in accordance with the Basic Law (Article 45), the shortlist of candidates will in turn have been pre-selected by means of a "democratic process" by a broadly representative election committee.

My advice to all the pan-democrats who object to this system is that if all of the nominated candidates are deemed unsuitable, then abstain.

I wonder what percentage of abstaining ballot papers is required for the electorate to demand a re-nomination?

J. Latter, Happy Valley


Simple to set up public nomination

I refer to the letter from Lam Cheuk-see ("Difficulties with public nominations", May 21).

Your correspondent is worried that it would be very difficult to implement public nomination for the chief executive because this could result in a large number of candidates and there might be no one able to get one-third of the votes.

Your correspondent's concern is understandable but it can be answered quite easily. First of all, there would be a threshold to pass before a person could be nominated as a candidate. Say he needed to obtain the nomination of at least one per cent of the 3.5 million registered voters. The number of candidates would then be limited.

Second, there could be two rounds of voting: if no candidate receives the requisite number of votes, then all but the two candidates who received the most votes would be eliminated, and a second round of voting held.

This ensures the elected candidate gets a simple majority of all the votes cast. This voting system is practised worldwide, including in the French presidential election.

In any event, putting aside any practical difficulties arising therefrom, allowing the public to nominate a candidate to run in the chief executive election is the best way to ensure that no potential leaders considered adverse to Beijing will be arbitrarily screened out.

Michael Ko, Tsing Yi


Beijing must offer tourists travel advice

Some correspondents, in discussing the confrontations between Hongkongers and mainland visitors, have pointed out that Hong Kong citizens can also misbehave.

However, we cannot deny the problems that mainland visitors have brought to the city. And while correspondents argue that many SAR citizens [or their ancestors] came from China, they integrated into society here. They learned the language and acceptable forms of behaviour.

The problems we are experiencing at the moment stem from the fact that Hong Kong has by-laws decreeing what is and what is not allowed, for example, in our streets and public transport systems such as the MTR. Some visitors from north of the border are flouting these by-laws.

I accept that they have helped Hong Kong's economy, but citizens here have also lost out.

The central government has an important role to play.

It needs to educate mainland citizens who are planning to come to Hong Kong on holiday and those going abroad and explain what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. If this is done then I do not think we will have any more problems.

Leung Chun-wai, Tin Shui Wai