Letters to the Editor, July 01, 2015
Indifferent attitudes to animal welfare
Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS) strongly supports the views expressed by Sharon Yip ("Stray dogs policy cruel and ineffective", June 20). It is also fiercely critical of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's "catch and kill" policy, which is outdated, uncivilised and devoid of common sense or compassion.
To our knowledge, the department certainly does not vaccinate any dogs that fall into its clutches since, unless they are reclaimed or taken out of the government kennels by NGOs, their fate is to be euthanised.
Hong Kong's stray dog crisis is created by the humans here, and PALS has long lamented the complete lack of initiative on the part of the department to rigorously tackle the root of the problem.
The lackadaisical manner in which dog keepers, mostly in the New Territories and on the outlying islands, are wilfully permitted to allow their dogs to illegally roam unattended breed indiscriminately and finally abandon them with impunity is shameful.
This government department is a behemoth, vast, fractured, discordant and, in terms of animal management, totally out of touch with reality. It warrants a complete overhaul, as does the degree of commitment to animal welfare demonstrated by our government officials and legislators.
Funds are being squandered through obscure publicity campaigns and questionable prosecutions; educational and enforcement teams could replace the "catch and kill" squads. Trap, neuter, return is a step in the right direction.
What is needed most is the mental backbone to facilitate change, to review in depth the government's attitude towards animal issues in Hong Kong from pet shops, breeders and private kennels to pet ownership, penalties for animal cruelty and stringent judicial measures.
Far too often human rights outweigh those of the animals who cannot speak for themselves, and it should not be this way.
Jacqueline Green, PALS
Condemnation of expatriates was unfair
I refer to the letter by Kathy Lo ("Appalled by behaviour of rude expats", June 24).
I find it sad that a letter is published wherein two expatriates are accused after becoming irate with a taxi driver. We've all queued for cabs and it can be a laborious business. That the driver should then refuse to take you might well be the icing on frustration's cake.
Since when are taxis unable to call in for help with unknown addresses?
Since when is it reasonable for the two people behind you in the queue to appropriate "your" cab even though they might, reasonably, have offered to help translate instead? And since when is every expatriate who loses his temper "an exbrat"? They could have been tourists or, just as likely, one of the swelling French community.
Personally, I thank Jason Wordie for perpetuating outdated stereotypes and widening disparity in a city already struggling with identity, increasing racism, rudeness and polarisation in his column ("The exbrat curse", June 14). And if people take the trouble to write in "from Ireland to New Zealand" ("Caliban and the mirror", June 21) he might have the good manners to apologise. It's not we who are defensive; it's he.
Karen Prochazka, Shouson Hill
Our precious coral reefs are worth saving
There are 84 different species of corals in Hong Kong.
They mostly grow in the northeast and eastern shores, forming communities in shallow coastal waters.
Corals grow very slowly, usually by 0.3cm to 10cm a year, depending on the environment. They are home to more than 25 per cent of all marine life, protect shorelines from large waves, and help with water quality. They are a vitally important underwater ecosystem.
However, 80 per cent of our reefs in Hong Kong are at risk, threatened by human activities such as coastal development and pollution. We should not allow them to be destroyed by our ignorance.
They have been here for so long. If we do not make the necessary changes and improvements, the corals won't survive in our waters for much longer. Our corals are destroyed by destructive fishing methods, such as dynamite fishing.
Improper waste treatment and other forms of marine pollution are also harmful.
Other factors contributing the decreasing numbers of corals are excessive coral poaching and careless tourism.
We can all ensure an improvement in the present situation by having a greater awareness of environmental issues.
We all need to try to be more eco-friendly, producing less greenhouse gas and CO2, and trying to ensure a better living environment for our coral reefs.
Henry Poon, Pok Fu Lam
Crack down on littering by beachgoers
A government interdepartmental working group has undertaken research into marine refuse in Hong Kong.
During its period of research it collected 15,000 tonnes of this refuse and discovered that most of it is locally generated, and very little comes from the mainland.
Much of this rubbish is plastic and styrofoam. In order to deal with this problem I think we have to look at the source of the rubbish and try and deal with that. And in this regard we have to look at the behaviour of Hongkongers.
So many people still, when they go for a day out at the beach, simply discard their rubbish at the beach and on coastal promenades before they leave, including such things as aluminium cans.
We should not do this. The government has to crack down on littering and if need be bring in new legislation. Having stiffer penalties for people found guilty of throwing away rubbish on beaches and in the sea will hopefully act as a deterrent and make people think twice.
Citizens must understand the consequences of their actions. The must realise that littering in coastal areas pollutes the beaches and the water and puts the habitats of marine life at risk. Some of Hong Kong's beautiful views will be destroyed if there is litter washing up on a beach.
However, when it comes to deteriorating water quality, I am not just concerned about dumping of rubbish. Land reclamation projects are another significant factor. The government needs to recognise this when planning future projects.
Also, it needs to raise awareness, through campaigns, of the importance of protecting our marine environment.
Katie Lee Hoi-kei, Kowloon Tong
Good urban planning in Singapore
I recently visited Singapore and was struck by how it differed from Hong Kong.
I found Singaporeans to be courteous towards each other, even drivers.
Also, I believe Singapore's urban planning is far better than in Hong Kong. There are enough recreational facilities for citizens.
Also they ensure the landfill [island] is separate from the residential and recreational areas. The incinerators are also some distance from people's homes. The waste and ash are transported by ferries rather than lorries.
I think the Hong Kong government could learn from Singapore and its urban planning policies.
Woo Sum-Yue, Kwun Tong