Letters to the Editor, July 10, 2015
Nuclear is the best green energy answer
I am in partial agreement with correspondents who have called for more Hong Kong buildings to have green features.
Having more renewable energy is good for the environment, and there is increasing demand for energy in Hong Kong.
However, I do not think it would be realistic to think that all the energy needs of a high-rise building could be met by, for example, installing solar panels. We cannot guarantee having sufficient sunlight in Hong Kong every day to provide all the electricity needed to keep such a building and its offices, or flats, fully functioning.
If we want to rely more on cleaner energy in the future, we should be looking at increased use of nuclear power. If strict safety standards are adhered to during the construction of a nuclear plant and when it is fully operational, then the risk of a nuclear accident is remote.
Nuclear energy is environmentally friendly. It does not produce as much greenhouse gas as fossil fuels do. When a nuclear power plant is running normally, there is no adverse impact on the environment.
I do support some of the initiatives aimed at the greening of buildings. The government should encourage building rooftop gardens with trees planted on buildings in the central business district. This would definitely help the environment.
The government needs to raise people's awareness about the importance of environmental protection, but we have to be realistic about the limitations of renewable energy in buildings.
June Lau, Mong Kok
Car-hailing app may force better service
The government should openly welcome car-hailing apps such as Uber.
The local taxi industry is a textbook example of a cosy monopoly with no pressure whatsoever to be customer-focused. Taxi drivers will steadfastly refuse to take clients from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (or vice versa) even though they are licensed to make the trip and rules prohibit them from refusing.
It is also not uncommon to have a taxi with a suffocating smell of tobacco or loud Canto-pop music.
Hopefully, a healthy dose of competition from the likes of Uber will encourage local taxi drivers to become more professional.
Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung
Third runway makes sound financial sense
I support the decision to build a third runway at Hong Kong's airport.
In recent years, travelling during peak times has become very expensive.
For example, a non-budget carrier might sell an off-peak ticket to Tokyo for about HK$3,000. However, a trip for our family of four to Tokyo over Christmas cost more than HK$32,000 and had to be purchased well in advance.
When the airport reaches flight capacity, every day becomes a peak day and every ticket will be sold at the peak rate, making flying unaffordable for many.
Passenger demand for air tickets will increase, and demand could exceed supply. We cannot depend on mainland aircraft to cope with the overflow from Chek Lap Kok. Hong Kong should meet its own needs as far as is possible.
I believe the airspace issue that was mentioned during the debate on the runway will be resolved. And even if this is not done in a timely fashion, the new runway will still provide 20 or more additional flights an hour, because not all flights enter mainland airspace. The HK$180 departure tax (to pay for the runway) will be for only a limited period.
Where there's a will, there's a way. Environmentalists who opposed the third runway must now work with the authorities to ensure it is constructed in the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.
S. S. Li, Quarry Bay
Effectiveness of volunteers questionable
In the summer, many young Hongkongers from secondary schools and tertiary colleges go overseas and spend time doing voluntary work.
The purpose of these trips is to help the underprivileged, so they should, supposedly, bring a positive impact to those in need. However, although these young people feel they are helping a noble cause, I wonder if this is what actually happens.
Apparently, some people irrationally believe that they are actually doing good deeds.
After all, providing essential goods, teaching English or even helping to build temporary housing would seem to offer obvious improvements in people's lives.
However, an article I read indicates that this is not always the case. A group of volunteers joined an overseas trip to build temporary housing in an area that had been hit by a natural disaster. But as the article pointed out, the quality of the housing was poor, and local workers had to demolish them and start again. This made me wonder about the purpose of these trips.
Do all these volunteers want to help the underprivileged, or do some of them just want to do it so they can post what they did on a social network and show off their "kindness"? Some volunteers are keen to go abroad and help people, but not so enthusiastic about aiding people in need here in Hong Kong. This seems to be a kind of selective kindness and it makes me question the motivation of some of these volunteers.
Imagine how many resources can be saved by not having this kind of trip abroad. The money spent organising it could instead be sent directly to the area requiring help.
It is time to have a rethink about the genuine purpose of these trips.
Milton Lam, Lam Tin
Firms should give disabled chance to work
There are many jobs that people who have disabilities cannot do, because it requires a certain level of mobility or physical strength. But there are other jobs they would be very capable of doing if given the chance.
I can understand why some employers are reluctant to engage someone with a disability, and often these people face prejudice in the workplace.
However, companies should try to offer employment opportunities to people who are disabled if there are openings that would be suitable for them. Providing such jobs should be part of a firm's corporate social responsibility.
The government should also be doing more to help the disabled to find job opportunities.
For example, there are jobs in shops, such as a cashier, that some people with disabilities would be able and delighted to do.
Stephanie Ng, Yau Yat Chuen
Same-sex marriage's time has come
I refer to Peter Wei's letter ("Same-sex marriage not right for HK", July 2).
Citing tradition is backwards thinking when it comes to the right of two persons to marry regardless of gender.
It was only in 1967 that the US ruled against anti-miscegenation laws that prevented people of different races from marrying (for example, no blacks marrying whites, no Asians marrying whites - which would invalidate my own marriage). Thankfully, that tradition ended.
As for religious reasons against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people marrying, you should not impose your beliefs on others.
As for the harms caused by same-sex marriage being too many to enumerate, I would invite your correspondent to go ahead and list them, because all of the so-called harms I have heard have been based on inaccurate or non-scientific information or have been refuted by real data.
The real harm is done when LGBT people are denied all the rights that come with marriage.
More modern countries are now realising that the time has finally come for the LGBT community to enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.
Is Hong Kong going to lag behind Third World countries or join the tide on the right side of history?
Jonathan Wells, Kennedy Town
Plastic bag tax doesn't solve waste problem
I remain sceptical about the effectiveness of the extended plastic bag levy, which was implemented in April.
I became doubtful after a recent shopping experience. A shopkeeper offered me a HK$1 discount in order to offset the plastic bag levy.
I also do not know how it can be effectively monitored. There are so many retailers affected by the levy and the relevant officers cannot keep tabs on all of them.
The government seems to put a lot of effort into environmental protection; however, I am not optimistic about the success of these policies. It is using economic incentives as a way to get the public to reduce volumes of waste.
I think a more effective way to cut waste in the long term is through education. Teaching children from a young age about the need for green policies is the best way to cut back on waste.
If they grow up recognising the importance of reducing the amount of refuse that is thrown away, the government will find it much easier to deal with the city's waste disposal problem.
The plastic bag levy may have led to fewer bags ending up in landfills, but we still need to deal with the root cause of the problem.
Tory Liang, Ma On Shan