Letters to the Editor, November 26, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 5:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 5:15pm

Long-term inaction over city’s bad air

I refer to the letter by Randall van der Woning (”Past time to get tough on dirty vehicles”, ­November 22).

I do not know how long your correspondent has lived here, but I have been here for 26 years and letters exactly like his and ­volumes more have graced the pages of every newspaper in the city, but nothing really changes.

I for one, and I assume many others, were encouraged when undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai joined the Environment Bureau.

Before then she was a long-term critic of the Environmental Protection Department, but now we hear little from her. But in fairness, her hands may be tied.

There are two things that have to be understood. First, the government, even if it really cares, does not have the backbone to go against vested ­interests. A good example of this is the idling engine ban, which is a ban in name only as it is useless. It took, if I remember correctly, 10 years of discussions.

Secondly, nothing will ever be done if the majority of the population, which is Chinese, does not really put pressure on the government. There have been protests in Hong Kong about many important issues and rightly so, but none over our ­terrible pollution. Why not? Do locals not care? Maybe they do not. Only time will tell.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin

Our leaders should have backed team

I generally agree with Zuraidah Ibrahim’s article (“Missed chance to root for HK”, ­November 22) but the criticism is relatively mild.

Zuraidah stated that our ­leaders missed an “open goal”, but more seriously they scored an own goal. By not standing ­together with the vast majority of Hongkongers to support our team, they clearly illustrated that they consider “one ­country” weighs much more heavily in the “one country, two systems” balance.

Chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s political naivety has ­further estranged his relationship with the man in the street because he failed to understand that this match was more than just a game of football to the people of Hong Kong, who he represents. Sunday was election day for the district councils.

If Leung Chun-ying, or most ­members of his administration, had to gain a popular mandate by ­universal suffrage, there is little doubt they would fail miserably.

In contrast, on the same night, the power of sport was fully illustrated at another football match when England hosted their rivals France at Wembley. The occasion was used to great effect to demonstrate the steadfast support from England for their neighbours across the Channel after the atrocious ­terrorist attacks in Paris. Naturally, Prime Minister David ­Cameron was at Wembley and placed himself at the centre of events.

K. Y. Leung, Mid-Levels

Artificial island not best way to get more flats

The government is struggling to resolve Hong Kong’s housing problem. There has been a great deal of discussion on this subject and some of the suggested solutions are controversial.

One idea put forward is to build an artificial island near the shore. Some countries have ­already created these islands, but little headway has been made with this proposal in Hong Kong. I think an artificial island would face a lot of obstacles here and I doubt if it is feasible. There would be a lot of opposition from various stakeholders.

The cost of such a project would be very high. While it was being constructed, water quality in the surrounding area would deteriorate, putting at risk ­marine ecosystems. There would certainly be strong opposition from environmental groups.

Given the problems it would encounter, I do not think an artificial island would be the best way to deal with the housing shortage.

Alvin Law, To Kwa Wan

Country park homes would be opposed

The rezoning of some green-belt sites is seen by the government as one way to deal with the ­serious housing shortage in Hong Kong. It has a much larger proportion of green areas than ­other big cities, for example, London. Redeveloping some of our country parks would definitely provide more land for development.

However, I have doubts about such a proposal and whether it is practical. Environmental groups are opposed to the development of country parks and emphasise the importance of protecting ecosystems. If the government decided to go ahead with such a policy, it would meet strong opposition.

The government must always consider the importance of environmental protection when looking at ways to provide more housing. There are still a lot of brownfield sites which do not have fragile ecosystems that need protecting. If the government feels it has no choice but to develop ­country parks, it must have thorough environmental assessments to ensure alleviation of the adverse effects of any ­housing projects.

We always have to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection. They are of equal importance if we are to ensure sustainable development.

We cannot sit back and allow the destruction of our environment. All citizens are responsible for trying to ensure a ­promising future for Hong Kong.

Kaitlyn Lu, Sha Tin

Ecotourism has so much potential in city

I refer to the letter by Ivan Yuen (“Why not expand art collection?”, November 23)

There is no doubt that ­cultural tourism is a great alternative to the more traditional ­attractions for tourists that have always been touted in Hong Kong, such as shopping and ­eating out.

We need to try and attract visitors who would like to learn about the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.

I also think we should be vigorously promoting ecotourism. This is sustainable tourism, so it is environmentally friendly and in the long term can help the Hong Kong economy to grow.

There is a lot of spectacular scenery and species diversity in the territory. We have a variety of natural landscapes, for example, the Hong Kong Geopark.

Also, with the approach of winter, many migratory birds will fly to Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay. Many visitors would be keen to see thousands of birds in this beautiful environment with its mangroves, mudflats and large fish ponds.

The government should try to promote Hong Kong’s ecotourism potential around the globe.

Sammi Lo Wing-sum, Sai Kung

Long working hours bad for employees

I have grave concerns about ­excessively long working hours in Hong Kong.

This is a problem we have known about for a long time. It has long been recognised that employees in this city suffer a great many problems associated with lengthy working hours.

The Report on the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours, published by the Labour Department in 2012, revealed that nearly 85 per cent of the ­labour force worked more than 40 hours a week.

Although people expressed concern about the findings of this report, the government has not made any concerted effort to deal with this problem. Many studies show that forcing people to work long hours actually ­reduces productivity.

Standardising working hours would go some way to ­resolving these problems. Any legislation must be feasible and protect Hong Kong’s business base.

A standard working hours law would require companies to take into account the work/life balance of their employees and to pay them for any overtime they have to work.

Even if the government did not go ahead with legislation, our business leaders could set an example with self-imposed restrictions on working hours.

Stephanie Kwok, Yau Ma Tei

Not worried about ageing population

The media and politicians are constantly bombarding us with doomsday warnings about the implications of fast-ageing ­populations and declining birth rates in the developed world. The most recent example of this was your editorial (“Migrants should be welcome here”, ­November 21).

While ageing populations and falling birth rates cannot be disputed, I suggest that the implications are not so dire as ­presented and do not justify mass immigration from the underdeveloped to the developed world.

Already, many repetitive and low-skilled jobs have been ­rendered redundant by the use of robots and automation and this trend can be expected to accelerate and even encompass many skilled and professional jobs.

In a recent BBC World ­Service broadcast, international experts supported this view and opined that there is a worldwide failure to recognise the implications of such rapid technological developments, which could well result in much surplus labour even with declining birth rates.

If this scenario is correct, it hardly justifies mass immigration.

Maybe Japan with its no­immigration policy and China with its one-child policy (now modified to allowing a second child) will be shown to be ­farsighted and prudent?

Doug Miller, Tai Po