Letters to the Editor, April 18, 2015
Airport on Lamma would wreak havoc
Regarding Francis Cheung's article ("Why not a second airport for Hong Kong?", April 7), I am appalled at his suggestion to build an airport at the southern end of Lamma Island. The idea should not even be considered on environmental grounds alone.
Cheung argues that the conservation value of the area is "much less significant" than northern Lantau. This despite the fact that Sham Wan remains the sole regular nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle in Hong Kong, and one of a small number remaining in southern China.
The Planning Department has identified South Lamma as a potential country park and marine reserve in a Recommended Development Strategy (for the southwest New Territories) published in 2001. According to WWF, its waters are also a known habitat of the finless porpoise, with a high density of sightings off southwest Lamma.
A direct route for planes to come in over the South China Sea may sound plausible in theory, but Lamma's southern shoreline lies roughly 3,300 metres from Hong Kong's maritime boundary - not enough for a runway capable of handling commercial jets. Those at Chek Lap Kok are 3,800 metres long, excluding the space required for overruns and approach lighting.
Cheung claims his proposed site is "properly expandable", but it is also hemmed in by Mount Stenhouse, a 350-metre peak. Flattening a mountain of such height would only wreak further havoc on an environmentally sensitive area.
James Louie, Tai Hang
Dam ban not a real win for environment
China's environmental protection ministry has overruled the controversial Xiaonanhai dam project on the Yangtze River ("Bo Xilai's controversial Yangtze dam project axed", April 9).
Mainland environmentalists view the official ban as a rare victory because they have been lobbying for nearly six years to scrap the project.
They shouldn't be too optimistic about a change of heart on dam projects and environmental protection. The decision on the Xiaonanhai project is more likely political rather than environmental.
Beijing will not give up a dam to protect fish. Over the last 20 years, it has ignored mounting opposition to the Three Gorges Dam from experts at home and abroad. The dam has destroyed some local ecological systems, yet the central government refused to call a halt to it.
As you reported, the Xiaonanhai dam was widely seen as a pet project of disgraced ex-Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and was mired in corruption.
Given that Beijing is pushing on with its anti-corruption drive, scrapping the Xiaonanhai dam is related to a crackdown on local corrupt officials who were behind the project.
The project's axing is merely coincidental and should not be taken as a positive signal that the government will sacrifice economic benefits to protect the environment.
Chen Guang, Western District
Volunteers can boost police image
With the government extending the retirement age of new civil servants, I suggest that retired auxiliary or regular frontline officers with good service records should be allowed to rejoin the police force as volunteers.
It is not the manpower but quality that matters, especially when the police have been criticised for lack of integrity and professionalism these days.
This policy will not be difficult to implement as these voluntary officers would be like the current auxiliaries, only they would not get paid. By having volunteers in the force, I believe the image of the police will definitely be enhanced.
The Hong Kong Police Force is one of the best in the world, and experienced voluntary officers can certainly help maintain its good reputation.
Lawrence Choi, Tuen Mun
Luxury goods shoppers evade tax
Much has been said recently about the parallel traders and the overcrowding of Hong Kong's shops and streets by mainland visitors. Retailers say the new visa rules will hurt them - they should thank mainland customs officers for not doing their jobs.
If they did, there would not be massive buying of expensive jewellery, clothing and accessories as they would be taxed the moment shoppers returned to the mainland.
It is not hard for customs officers to pick out these shoppers. Take any plane arriving from Hong Kong (or Europe) and look at the number of shopping bags with famous brand names that people are carrying. Or simply ask them to hold up their hands and officers will see the fancy watches.
A much easier way to stop this large-scale shopping is for China's customs officers to check incoming passengers and maybe departing passengers because many carry more cash than they are allowed to to pay for their purchases.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Thin models warped vision of beauty
Over the last few decades, the ideal of female beauty in Western societies has been of women who are very thin.
Everywhere you look you see adverts featuring very thin models and some of them, frankly, don't look well. These are not healthy images, but they are what the fashion industry demands. Advertising feeds us images of how we should look. Young women especially are brainwashed by this and equate being thin with beauty, which is totally wrong.
This distorted mindset can create serious health problems for some teenagers.
For most of these youngsters, it is not possible to look as thin as some of these models, but they try and so you have a pervasive slimming culture for teen girls.
Some will risk their lives to get the ultra-slim look they mistakenly see as perfection. They may take slimming supplements or pills, or develop serious eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
How did these warped fashion and beauty industry standards develop and become so dangerous and unhealthy for young girls?
People are now waking up to this problem and recognising the need to deal with it ("France to crack down on anorexic models", April 4). In France, it is a "crime to use anorexic models or encourage anorexia".
There have been similar moves in Israel and Spain. I am glad France has taken the first step as it is the international fashion hub.
Teenagers need to understand that there is no such thing as perfection. If we all looked the same, we would be very boring. They must learn that their characters are more important than how they look.
Cherry Wong, Yau Tong
Now TV kills the thrill of drama series
For my sins I admit to having belatedly become a firm fan of the HBO Game of Thrones drama series about a mythical land in a pre-industrial era.
Fortunately, through the internet, I have been able to catch up on the first four series and was eagerly anticipating the launch of the first episode of series five on Now TV, this being the first time I had watched it on regular TV.
However, I was extremely disappointed, having watched what is typically a 55-minute episode in 44 broadcast minutes, with obvious heavy cutting and editing to the extreme detriment of the narrative.
I can only presume that the heavy-handed editing was due to potential sexual or political references, with some of the sexual scenes perhaps being fairly near the knuckle.
However, surely if there were scenes which some people deemed unsuitable, they could use the off button.
Suffice to say that whoever made these decisions has not only discouraged me from ever watching my favoured programmes on their TV channels in future, but is also effectively encouraging me to download them off the internet instead.
I struggle to understand why a television broadcaster would actively try to encourage its potential viewers to watch a highly rated TV programme on an alternative medium in order that it can be viewed as the producers intended and ultimately leading to viewers cancelling their channel subscription.
Surely this is just a path to their own demise?
Is this what has happened to ATV?
Piers Bennett, North Point
Expect more empty words on recycling
I refer to the letter by Tom Yam ("Three-colour recycle bins are window dressing and a sham", April 3).
Your correspondent said the minister for the environment was going to give the keynote speech at the opening of an international conference on solid waste being held in Hong Kong next month. He wonders what Wong Kam-sing will say, given that we trail so far behind many other governments in policies and action in this area.
Having attended many conferences over the years, one learns that keynote speeches given by ministers usually amount to nothing more than platitudes and unsubstantiated hopes.
Invariably they conclude by wishing the audience a happy conference and promptly departing.
But these are the very people who need to stay, meet those with real expertise and hear, with their own ears, what is going on in the world.
They never do and it is unlikely to be any different this time. Should we be worried?
S. P. Li, Lantau