Letters to the Editor, July 23, 2015
Little effort to recycle waste at carnival
While Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group strongly supports the 3Rs and other measures to reduce waste, we find the proposed domestic waste charge to be discriminatory.
Residents are being blamed for the increased volumes of refuse being dumped at our landfills when the real culprits are not targeted.
A good example is the Dragon Boat Carnival held on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on the first weekend of this month. This event is co-organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and supported by the Mega Events Fund.
Despite the fact that much of the funding comes from our tax contributions, we found that no attempt was made to incorporate waste reduction and recycling programmes into the event.
A search for recycle facilities found one cage close to a footbridge. The bulk of the waste generated, mostly plastic and cardboard, was dumped indiscriminately into large wheeled containers. There were no signs showing the public where to dispose of their waste and no attempt to run the event in a sustainable manner.
At Centenary Garden there was an open-air pub. Thousands of pints of beer were served in disposable plastic glasses. We found no provisions had been made for recycle bins.
In addition large quantities of plastic and paper banners added substantially to the annual per capita quota of solid waste for the district.
Local residents and taxpayers want to know why the Tourism Board and Mega Events Fund is organising publicly funded events in such a wasteful manner.
We would also like an explanation from secretary for commerce and economic development, Gregory So Kam-leung. Why has his department not set stringent conditions on the funding of such events with regard to generation of waste and the importance of setting a good example to the private sector regarding compliance with government policy on waste reduction?
It is unacceptable that we will be subjected to a complicated and time-consuming waste charge while the administration takes no measures to reduce waste and promote recycling. Perhaps it is part of a grand conspiracy to justify the mega incinerator.
Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group
Swift action is needed on lead in water
The problem with lead-contaminated water at Kai Ching Estate, in Kowloon City, proved to be only the tip of the iceberg.
More public housing estates were found to have excessive lead levels, and concerns have been expressed about private estates also being affected.
We should not underestimate the seriousness of this situation for a number of reasons.
Tap water that contains lead can have serious health implications. Lead poisoning can affect major organs and the nervous system. Children are vulnerable to excess quantities of lead as they grow. Clearly, pregnant women will be concerned about what effect the tainted water could have on their unborn child. Given that this now appears to be an issue affecting many residents, it is important to consider the health implications.
Questions also have to be raised about the construction of the affected estates. Did contractors cut corners? Are there loopholes in the existing regulations and legislation?
It raises questions about lead soldering in pipes and whether this could be the cause of the contamination. We need to know if some contractors used substandard materials. And if they did, does this extend to the actual structural integrity of some flats? Many Hongkongers spend their whole lives paying for a home of their own. They should not have to face these safety concerns.
If it were not for the legislator who exposed the water contamination problems at the Kai Ching Estate, we would still be in the dark. The government must act swiftly to answer the concerns of citizens. If lead-soldered pipes need to be replaced, this should be done as soon as possible.
Tang Sha-lee, Yau Yat Chuen
Observatory's disappointing forecasts
I wish to highlight totally incorrect weather forecasts.
First there was the raising of the typhoon signal No 8 on July 9. We all rushed home, packed into MTR carriages and buses and absolutely nothing happened.
Then last weekend the forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms, so many people would have cancelled their plans for junk trips and other outdoor activities. Again nothing happened, as it was yet again hot and sunny.
I suggest the Hong Kong Observatory looks at the Met Service website in New Zealand. They always get it right.
If they say it's going to rain at 10am, it does, and if it's going to snow at 3pm, it does.
Otherwise I would suggest it's time for the Observatory to invest in a new crystal ball.
J. May, Tsim Sha Tsui
Revised visa policy will not stop traders
A new policy was implemented in April to try and reduce the problem of parallel traders, with Shenzhen permanent residents being limited to visas once a week.
I do not believe this policy will curb parallel trading.
First, many of the traders will be unaffected by the rule, because they are not Shenzhen permanent residents. They are from Hong Kong and so are not subject to these recently imposed visa restrictions.
They are either locals or mainlanders with Hong Kong residency. And more local citizens can always be hired to get around the policy.
They can still trade in the daily necessities such as baby formula, shampoo and beauty products to earn money.
Therefore, it is only fair if Hongkongers are also only entitled to one visit to Shenzhen a week.
With this policy of one visit a week, Shenzhen residents can still come to Hong Kong once a week and then can stay on for seven days.
A large number of these traders will sweep up the goods that they need in Hong Kong during their stay and bring them back to Shenzhen to sell on. The policy will even encourage the traders to buy more goods when they are here.
The policy can only reduce the 30 per cent of Shenzhen residents who had multiple-entry permits to visit Hong Kong. This will not relieve the congestion and overcrowding caused by parallel traders in some of the worst-affected areas in Hong Kong.
The policy may have helped to ease anti-mainland sentiment that had built up in Hong Kong; however, it will not resolve the parallel-trading problem.
Shuk Man-ho, Shenzhen
Visitors bring good and bad to Hong Kong
I think the individual visit scheme has been a double-edged sword since its introduction.
Hong Kong's economy has benefited from it, and it has created a lot of jobs for young people in the city. However, it has also resulted in many social problems. While there has been an increase in the number of mainland tourists, there has also been an influx of parallel traders.
Their activities have resulted in shortages of daily necessities in some areas near the border. Also, transport systems have become overloaded. Shops that catered to local residents have often been replaced by ones that meet the retail needs of mainland visitors.
However, a drop in tourist numbers adversely affects the economy, and some youngsters could lose their jobs.
While I understand there have to be retail outlets which have the products tourists want, such as well-off mainlanders' desire for jewellery, local needs cannot be ignored.
Traditional local businesses, such as small, independent grocery stores, are being killed off by developers.
The government should recognise and place restrictions on the number of new pharmacies and jewellery stores it will allow to be opened. It needs to strike a balance so tourists can buy what they want and local shops can stay open.
Kensuke Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Relaxation is very important for teenagers
I refer to the article by Tik Chi Yuen ("Students need more options and less stress", July 15).
As a student, I realise the stress my peers face especially because of the Diploma of Secondary Education. They know if they get good DSE exam results they will have better career prospects. Those who do not do well will struggle to get a university place and a good job.
For these reasons, many teenagers give up their leisure time to study harder, and this is not something I'd recommend. For the sake of their physical and mental health, they need to find time to rest. It's about getting the right balance.
In this regard parents have an important role to play. Too often, because they want their children to have a promising future, they keep pushing them. They enrol them for tutorial classes in the hope this will give them a better chance of doing well in the DSE.
While tutorial colleges can help students, they can sometimes have the opposite effect. If the youngsters are not being allowed any leisure time, they may develop a negative mindset.
They must be allowed to hang out with friends and family and should be encouraged to exercise, which is a healthy form of relaxation.
Samjo Tam, Tseung Kwan O