Letters to the Editor, June 05, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 June, 2015, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 June, 2015, 4:49pm

Where's the action on our foul air?

I refer to the letter by Christine Loh Kung-wai, undersecretary for the environment, and S. M. Yau, undersecretary for transport and housing ("Chief executive committed to improving air", June 2), in reply to my letter ("Departments lay the blame game over air", May 25).

Your correspondents say that the chief executive, Leung Chung-ying, is concerned about the foul air he and we breathe and that there is, in fact, coordination and cooperation between government departments.

If indeed Mr Leung made both the environment and transport and housing bureaus work in tandem to the benefit of the vast majority of Hongkongers, then we would already enjoy:

 

  • Many permanently pedestrianised roads in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon;

 

 

  • Low-emission zones not accessible to vehicles of less than Euro V standard;

 

 

  • An end to the daily, nonsensical, close to 24-hour traffic jams at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel;

 

 

  • Extensive dedicated bus lanes to the benefit of the public transport users; and,

 

 

  • Bicycle lanes, as are actively promoted by first-class cities around the world now.

 

Since we do not have any of the above, the conclusion I come to is that there is a lack of will and interest to fight home-grown air pollution with real action instead of words. I would be pleased to be proved wrong in the near future with visible deeds, instead of words, as we all would benefit.

H. P. Kerner, Sai Kung

Rich guys' cars should not escape law

Since the implementation of the plastic bag law only two months ago, 15 small businesses have been prosecuted and slapped with HK$2,000 fixed-penalty fines, including a hawker stall and a news stand ("15 retailers hit with plastic bag penalties", June 3).

While I would like to applaud the efficiency of the Environmental Protection Department, I would like to know how many owners of the vast number of chauffeur-driven private cars parked and idling in Central have been fined since the Hong Kong Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance, with a fixed fine of HK$320, was implemented on December 15, 2011.

Is the government intent on prosecuting and, from an outsider's point of view, persecuting small businesses while indulging the wealthy businessmen in Central by turning a blind eye?

Helen Cheung, Ho Man Tin

Number of idling engine fines baffling

The report ("Illegal idling city's least-enforced minor infraction", May 19) certainly showed the complete failure of the idling engine ban.

Between December 2011, when the ban came into effect, and November 2013, officers issued 86 fixed penalty notices. So, on average, 43 tickets a year were issued.

That is amazing. I do not know how many people were hired to do this most difficult task. Obviously it must be difficult, as so few have been caught, so please hire me. I will do better in one week in Sha Tin where I live.

Would it be possible for the relevant government agency to enlighten us as to how many people are employed and how many of our tax dollars are being wasted?

I doubt a response will be forthcoming as it would surely be an embarrassment to all concerned who started, but have failed to enforce the law.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin

Low emissions can't counter El Nino effect

Last month Australian meteorologists forecast a "substantial" El Nino weather phenomenon for 2015.

El Nino conditions are associated with the appearance of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific between the International Date Line and longitude 120 degrees west, including off the Pacific coast of South America.

The origin of this phenomenon is hotly debated without a consensus, including whether climatic impacts are regional or global.

The best explanation for a likely trigger is the sudden switching on of hot seawater by a submarine volcano off Tonga since December 2014. An analysis of maps of sea-surface temperature anomalies provided by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration supports this conclusion.

Another regional impact of the hot seawater is Super Cyclone Pam which devastated Vanuatu in March.

The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is not an effective solution to the El Nino phenomenon.

Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam

Banners at junctions a safety issue

Between June 2012 and April 2013, the food and environment hygiene and lands departments allowed the Youth Care Association and Falun Gong to occupy many black spot junctions in Tsim Sha Tsui with large and unauthorised banners. They blocked the sight lines of pedestrians and drivers on some of Nathan Road's busiest crossings.

Complaints lodged with the departments were ignored.

Banners are subject to Lands Department regulations. For road safety purposes, there are locations designated as no banner zones. They comprise areas within 30 metres on the traffic upstream side of pedestrian crossings, including signal-controlled, zebra, or cautionary crossings.

Last month, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy had signature campaign booths. Visibility at some Nathan Road junctions was zero during this campaign.

Again, these two departments took no action, even though there was an obvious danger to public safety.

Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group has no problems with freedom of speech and expression. However, campaigns should be conducted in compliance with existing regulations and guidelines.

Hong Kong will soon have elections when all sorts of banners and stands will appear on our streets.

It is now time for the two departments to implement the regulations without fear or favour so that all parties understand what the bottom line is and to ensure that members of the public can enjoy their right to a safe and unimpeded passage on our streets.

This is in line with the government's policy of "Zero Accidents on the Road, Hong Kong's Goal".

Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group

Nursing home deserves to stay open

I refer to your editorial ("Make care for the elderly a priority", June 1).

I do not think the staff of Cambridge Nursing Home in Tai Po were intentionally ill-treating or abusing the elderly under their care.

After what happened, this nursing home will surely make the effort to undertake necessary improvements and become even better.

It is one of the best private nursing homes in the area. I know because I have a close family member living there.

I hope the Social Welfare Department will reconsider its decision not to renew the licence, so that elderly residents can have a good nursing home to stay in.

Elsa Young, Tai Po 

Teenagers can help save environment

Many teenagers think that environmental problems are remote, something they do not need to worry about and that do not concern them.

However, they can play a crucial role in efforts to protect the environment.

Even in their daily lives, they can make a difference, for example, by using less electricity where possible.

We need to reduce electricity consumption because fossil fuel is used in our power stations and emits pollutants. A simple thing like turning off a light when you leave a room or leave your apartment, does matter.

Teenagers can also embrace the 4Rs of environmental protection - reduce, reuse, recycle and replace.

Teens should also be willing to join green groups as volunteers and help them in their activities such as tree planting and beach clean-ups.

Mabel Wong, Tiu Keng Leng 

Shopping mall just what airport needs

I support the planned shopping mall at the airport between Terminal 2 and AsiaWorld-Expo.

I think it will prove popular with tourists and local residents.

It is essential to maintain the city's competitiveness and economic status as an aviation hub. This will be especially important when the handling capacity of international passengers increases with the construction of the third runway.

If they have a long stopover at the airport, travellers want more than just a few shops, restaurants, a cinema and a smoking room.

Having this large mall will give them a spacious shopping experience.

Mukhjot Kaur, Tseung Kwan O