Letters to the Editor, May 15, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 4:37pm

Government unconcerned about our air

I refer to the report ("Central pollution levels are double WHO limit: study", May 12).

The poor state of Hong Kong's air has affected the city for decades.

What makes it worse is that the government's response to deal with the problem has been inadequate.

We have had measures to stop idling engines, but they have done little to alleviate the severe pollution levels in urban areas such as Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

Green groups like Friends of the Earth propose measures to improve this state of affairs, but the government turns a deaf ear.

High pollution levels are so closely associated with Hong Kong that we all just seem to get used to them. And yet because of these levels, more people are contracting chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and dying from them.

The government does not seem concerned that our air pollution has given us some notoriety, something we should not be proud of.

It has a negative effect on the city in many ways.

The government must surely recognise this, so what is it waiting for?

Andy Ngai Wai-lok, Sham Tseng 

Promotion of glass recycling must be better

The level of public awareness about the importance of glass recycling is low.

Unlike with plastic, paper and metal, citizens do not really understand the concept of recycling glass bottles.

They can grasp the system of handing back bottles to be used again and getting paid for that, but not recycling and how it can help the environment.

There has been insufficient promotion about the importance of citizens recycling glass bottles.

People do not really understand the recycling process with regard to glass.

After the caps and stoppers are removed and the bottles are cleaned, they are crushed into glass sand. This is then added to cement to be used as construction material for roads (replacing the use of natural river sand).

There needs to be more promotion of glass recycling by the government, and it must target households.

The government produces leaflets, but it must do more.

Posters need to be widely distributed, explaining to people which types of glass cannot be used again and how they should prepare empty bottles before depositing them in bins.

These posters should be placed at the noticeboards of all residential buildings in Hong Kong so they reach as many citizens as possible.

I hope the message will spread to all family members so that they come to recognise the importance of not discarding empty glass bottles in ordinary bins.

The relevant government department could also put out public service messages on television and in newspapers.

Ruby Chan Shun-lok,Sau Mau Ping

Start planning new airport for HK now

Many questions have quite rightly been raised about the third runway at Hong Kong airport, including those concerning existing and future runway capacities; the absence of a provision for a fourth runway; regional airspace limitations; conflicts of approaches and departures; cost and environment, and the inadequacy of existing air traffic control hardware.

If the responsible decision-makers could be made personally liable, they might address these issues more convincingly and think twice about pushing ahead, ignoring these rather serious shortcomings.

The costs are staggering, and we don't want to finish up with a white elephant.

I would like to raise just a couple of issues.

When the provisional airport authority in the 1990s presented its case for the implementation of the second runway, it projected a gradual build-up to 84 or so movements per hour.

The maximum current movements some 17 years after opening are in the mid- to high 60s. The discrepancy is staggering.

A senior controller at the airport explained recently that the projected movements at the time were of a generic nature, while the actual movements include more heavy aircraft, requiring a larger spacing between them. If this was not deliberately misleading with an unrealistic projection, then what was it? What are we to believe now? How can we trust the capacity figures and how can we believe the cost figures of HK$84 billion in 2011 and HK$141 billion now are accurate?

One other rather important issue has received very little consideration.

If we build the third runway now, what will happen when the airport reaches capacity?

We will hear the same arguments for increasing capacity as we hear now, but adding another runway will be an unlikely solution.

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we then will need a new airport.

If we are going to need a new airport in the foreseeable future, why not maximise the existing facility and start planning a new airport now?

It will be cheaper in the long run, and any of the current issues can be resolved in a timely manner.

Heinz Rust, Wan Chai

Raise age limit on some jobs to help elderly

I refer to the report, "Too old to work, too poor not to" (May 7).

I feel sorry for those people who still need to work and earn money for their families even when they are 65 and older.

There are a lot of people approaching 65 who face limited job options. For security guards, it is the retirement age. The problem of needing to find work after 65 and not being able to is very real for a lot of Hong Kong people.

There are elderly people who are forced into retirement, but do not have enough money. They walk through the streets of Hong Kong collecting discarded material that they sell to recycling operators.

For many people who are 65 and older, it is too much to expect them to be lifting heavy boxes and other materials and pushing them around on trolleys. This is a tough job that most of them cannot handle and should not be doing.

The regulations do allow security guards to work after the age of 65 in single-block residential buildings.

However, these are older buildings, and as many of them are redeveloped into larger units, fewer single-block units mean job opportunities are scarce.

Therefore, it will become increasingly difficult for older people to find work.

The government should change the regulations to raise the retirement age for security guards from 65 to 70. Some elderly people are looking for jobs not because they love working at that age, but because they have to.

Chloe Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Apologies due, and not just from Japan

Ben L.P. Tsang rightly points out ("Not too late for Abe to apologise for Japan's wartime atrocities", May 11) that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed "deep remorse" for Japan's actions before and during second world war. This follows Tomiichi Murayama's apology on behalf of the Japanese people in 1995, yet he seems to completely dismiss these expressions of regret.

Is something being lost in translation here? "Remorse" is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "deep and painful regret for wrongdoing".

The same source goes on to define "apology" as "the regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure".

Surely the former is even stronger than the latter.

I think many people would be very happy if President Xi Jinping , on behalf of the Chinese government, expressed deep remorse for the events of June 4, 1989, in Beijing.

And if President Barack Obama used the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings to express his remorse on behalf of the American people.

All humanity should feel deep remorse at the loss of innocent human life wherever it occurs.

Failure to do so demeans all humanity.

John Hone, Mid-Levels 

Better goods on mainland solves problem

There have been calls to build shopping malls at the border to meet the demand of mainland visitors.

The suggestion is a response to the problems that have been caused by parallel traders buying essentials here and selling them for a profit north of the border.

As there are a lot of them and they buy in bulk, their actions have led to shortages in parts of the New Territories and price rises of these essential items.

With high prices adversely affecting citizens here who need these essential items, I accept that something has to be done.

The problem is that people do not trust the quality of goods manufactured on the mainland, following various scandals, such as tainted food. There are a lot of fake and low-quality products, and they know that higher quality is assured if the item is purchased in Hong Kong.

However, I do not support the building of malls. What should be done is for mainland authorities to enforce tighter controls on manufacturers so that standards are raised.

If this is done across the board, people will start buying their daily necessities at home, parallel traders will disappear and there will be no need to build these border shopping centres.

Janice Yuen, Sai Kung