Letters to the Editor, June 4, 2014

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 5:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 5:26am

Other ways to deal with our rubbish

I refer to the letter by Ivan Chan Ka-yau ("Incinerator proposal makes sense", May 29) and the bad decision to concentrate our waste management on the method of incineration and the location at Shek Kwu Chau, which makes no sense.

Your correspondent has been sold the government's line that the choice is between landfills or incineration.

Mr Chan is right to be alarmed by the amount of food waste now being dumped into landfills, which is about half the total volume.

What I find alarming is that the government ignores pertinent facts in its determined quest to implement a decade-old decision, which involves a hugely expensive reclamation and yesterday's technology.

There are other methods of dealing with municipal rubbish.

Food waste does not easily burn due to the high water content which has a negative impact on the efficiency and cost of incineration. Tonnes of toxic ash residue are a result of incineration, which then must be taken by barge from the island back to the landfills, which Mr Chan would "prefer to see closed".

The leading professional body on waste and environmental management recommends that it is much better to "garburate" [shred] food waste at source and flush it down the drains.

With such a display of head-in-the-sand bureaucratic thinking, it is little wonder that citizens are losing faith in our administration's ability to manage Hong Kong.

I also refer to the report ("Waste plan on verge of approval", May 28). Such an ill-considered HK$29 billion plan deserves to be filibustered and defeated at Legco's finance committee.

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels


Risk from incinerator may be greater

I agree with the letter by Dan Carew from Cheung Chau ("Clarify reasons for incinerator site selection", May 31).

On your front page the same day, there was a revealing article ("Hazardous level of trace metals in China's air"). It was claimed this affects Hong Kong and that China's air contains "10 to 20 times more fine metal particles" than in the US.

We now learn that the level of PM2.5 is not what is critical but what these particles are. Apparently, the presence of health-threatening trace metals is the reason for a "potential public health crisis".

This leads one to ask if the feasibility study of the incinerator included this assessment.

If the information was not known, it is almost certain that emissions from the incinerator were not investigated for the type of PM2.5 they would release into Hong Kong's air.

Tackling a reduction in waste instead of incinerating it remains an option.

Simple education will reduce waste, as will simple regulatory measures.

The government should reconsider its policy for the sake of the health of citizens.

Concerns over air quality will increase.

Also, if you look at the influx of tourists, the rise in living density and the increase in consumption in Hong Kong - simple maths results in the conclusion that one incinerator will be as quick to reach capacity as current landfill projections.

It will not be long before we end up with five incinerators. What will this mean for Hong Kong's already hazardous levels of air pollution?

Lizette Smook, Sheung Wan


No template for good parenting

I refer to Alex Lo's column ("Tiger mums, pussy parents are both right", May 31).

Judging by the still fiery debate, both appalled by and in support of, Amy Chua's contention that strict parental supervision and restriction of social privileges enhance a child's academic achievements, the best approach to realise a child's academic potential remains unresolved.

The welcome research by two Stanford University psychologists suggests more than one road leading to Rome, with no standard formula for success, whether it be the "tiger mother" approach, their antitheses, or a combination of both. The secret to success may be individually different for each child.

Discussions so far have focused on single family experiences that may not apply to children in general.

There has been an absence of reliable educational, psychological and longitudinal child development research in support of opposing views.

Thus far, all we have are passionate accounts advocating childrearing strategies that have worked (or not worked) in single families.

I am still indebted to immigrant parents who fostered my ambition to become a physician.

As a product of an academically focused Malaysian-Chinese family, whose parents strictly encouraged rather than enforced sustained effort in my educational endeavour, I never felt coerced to study to achieve my goals, which fortunately aligned with those of my parents.

On the other hand, I have colleagues whose parents let them follow their aspirations much more freely, achieving the same result.

To each family their own recipe for life and professional advancement.

Dr Joseph Y. S. Ting, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Computer games can help teenagers

Some people argue that playing computer games has a negative impact on teenagers' development.

I think it is wrong to say that playing these games must always be bad for teenagers. They can actually bring some advantages.

There are many of these games that can help the players to improve their hand and eye coordination. Teenagers have to stay focused and keep their hands steady if they want to hit targets.

Also, there are some games which can help youngsters improve their problem-solving skills.

The scenarios created put players in a complicated world where they must face many challenges.

They have to make quick decisions under pressure. They can acquire and hone skills that they can use to their advantage in the future.

I think some computer games can benefit the many teenagers who are an only child in a family.

Some of the games can help them to learn how to collaborate with others and recognise the importance of team work, because with the situations created, they have to work with fellow game players.

This forces them to show patience when working with others, as each person has to finish his or her tasks.

It is important to look at the positive aspects of these computer games and the ways in which they can actually help young people.

Wong Siu-yuk, Sham Shui Po


Beijing should ban cruel dog meat festival

It makes me angry that the annual Dog Meat Festival continues to be held in Yulin, Guangxi, on the summer solstice later this month.

The bond between dogs and humans is a strong one and they can even, for example, be trained to help us as guide dogs, or be trained to sniff out illegal drugs.

China has made great economic strides as a developing nation over the past few decades.

It should also be advancing culturally and such festivals are not appropriate.

It should be recognised that animals have rights and that we have a duty to protect them.

I hope that the central government will ban this festival and urge people to think as citizens of a modern country where animals are treated with respect.

Rowina Lo Wing-nga, Kowloon Tong