Letters to the Editor, November 27, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 6:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 6:20pm

Emissions tests in line with best practice

We would like to clarify some misunderstandings in Alex Lo’s column on our vehicle emission control programme (“Emissions testing regime a major fail”, November 16).

To reduce roadside air pollution and protect public health, we have since September 2014 been deploying roadside ­remote sensors to monitor ­exhaust emissions from petrol and LPG vehicles.

After identifying a vehicle with excessive emissions, we will serve an emission testing notice (ETN) to the vehicle owner. He or she will have to fix the emission problem and take the vehicle to a designated emission testing centre for an emission test. If the vehicle fails to pass the emission test within 12 working days, its vehicle licence will be cancelled.

In line with international practice, we test a Euro III ­vehicle as per the performance of a Euro III vehicle, including setting the emission limits at two times a vehicle’s design emission standard to allow for normal wear and tear of its engine. If the emission limits were pitched at a more stringent Euro V standard as suggested by Lo, the test would be unduly stringent and unlikely to be met even with reasonable maintenance.

Our remote sensors comply with the specifications set by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, which represents the best practice internationally. They are calibrated automatically every two hours to ensure accurate measurements. We also deploy two sets of sensors at the same spot and will issue an ETN only when both sensors have registered excessive emissions. About 4,300 ETNs were issued up to October 2015.

The screening has been ­endorsed by an expert group comprising relevant experts, academics and representatives of the Transport Department and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.

If a vehicle owner has an objection or query about an ETN, he should contact us on the hotline as provided on the ETN as soon as possible.

S. T. Mak, acting principal environmental protection officer (mobile source), Environmental Protection Department

Students should follow their dreams

I refer to the article by Bernard Chan (“‘You don’t have to wear a suit to be a success”, November 13).

As a student, it disappoints me to see bias in our society against people who have chosen non-professional careers. This bias influences youngsters when making their career choices and it causes them and their parents stress.

Students should go for the job they want to do rather than what they think is expected of them by society. They should be allowed to follow their dreams.

Most Hong Kong citizens clearly attach prestige to professions such as in the finance ­sector. People in these positions earn high salaries and have an elevated social status. Consequently, there is too much focus in Hong Kong schools on academic performance and exam results. And there is a vicious ­cycle in which this culture of education is passed on to the next generation of students. It is cruel that someone with creative talent has to do a job in an office they do not enjoy. When it comes to teenagers choosing their careers, parents have to try to be more open-minded.

Mr Chan made a perceptive comment when he said that “skills in creating and working with actual things are a sign of success”. As a student I have to do a lot of repetitive exercises which I find boring. I like dealing with things that are unfamiliar to me and learning about them. I enjoy the opportunity to be ­creative.

I care about finding a job I really want to do rather than earning a high salary with a lot of prestige attached. I would like to follow a career in the field of psychology. Adolescents should be allowed to pursue their dreams even if this does not bring them fame and success.

Michel Dik, Fo Tan

Clueless culture chiefs are no surprise

It should come as no shock that the tenants of PMQ are considering a “mass exodus” as they vent their frustrations on a management wholly unsuited to the development of a cultural hub (“Tenants unhappy amid ­exodus worries”, November 19).

We need only look at our hapless government’s other ventures to see how clueless and devoid of cultural imagination and creativity those appointed are. As PMQ becomes just ­another soulless building we can await with despair the ­opening of Central Police ­Station which has more hope of incarcerating culture than developing it for Hong Kong.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Some green belt could be built upon

Many Hong Kong people have no alternative but to live in tiny flats or even subdivided units. With high rents and insufficient land supply they do not have a choice.

Now the Our Hong Kong Foundation think tank has ­repeated the call for homes to be built on some green-belt sites.

Green groups have objected, emphasising the importance of conserving natural habitats and protecting ecosystems.

We should protect wildlife habitats and not be irresponsible when building new residential developments.

Compared with other metropolises, Hong Kong seems to attach too much importance to preserving all of its country park land given that there is so much of it. We should not sacrifice our quality of life, but surely we can release a small proportion of green-belt land. Mitigating measures could be taken to ensure rural areas are properly protected, including wildlife habitats.

It would be a win-win situation if all parties could reach a consensus. We must aim to strike a balance between environmental protection and land development.

Sonia Wong Choi-ying, Kowloon Tong

Brownfield sites ripe for development

With property prices soaring and land becoming scarce, we face a demand and supply imbalance in the housing market. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to own a flat.

I therefore back the government’s proposal to develop brownfield sites, freeing the land by demolishing unoccupied buildings. With these buildings no longer in use, the land is not being properly utilised.

I also support the proposal to develop country park land which is not ecologically valuable for housing.

Max Tin, Sha Tin

Leave parks alone, we have disused land

Your paper has been filled (yet again) with articles and letters advocating home building in our country parks.

Your editorial (“Land ­needed to meet homes goal”, November 19) suggests that you have also drunk the property ­developer (and conflicted government) Kool-Aid that there is such a scarcity of land that green belt should be considered for development.

It was, therefore, perfect ­timing that the front page of your newspaper covered the Director of Audit’s report on 105 disused school sites going to waste. This is a perfect example of space that could easily be redeveloped to meet housing needs. There are plenty of ­others.

Also, as noted in the letter by undersecretary for development, Eric Ma, some 190 ­hectares of brownfield sites will be cleared for the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area alone (“Brownfield sites are only one part of holistic land planning”, November 19), and this does not even scratch the surface of the potential for rezoning of industrial sites.

As I have argued before through these columns, our country parks are a shared ­resource for all Hongkongers and our future generations.

Once pristine areas are ­developed, they will never be pristine again.

Surely, the government should instead focus its efforts on cutting through its own bureaucracy to utilise all of the ­disused land at its disposal. And if for some reason this isn’t enough, it should apply punitive taxes to property developer land banks to bring this precious, ­disused resource to market.

This will solve the land ­shortage without impacting our country parks at all.

Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay

Help the young to get on the housing ladder

Teenagers crave independence, but feel financially powerless because of skyrocketing house prices and inflation.

There are countless flat-owner wannabes working hard and saving who cannot get the home they deserve. Even a tiny apartment of around 170 square feet is beyond their means.

If people blame young graduates for claiming public ­housing, it should turn its anger towards the government ­instead. These young people are ­future social pillars of Hong Kong.

The government must re-allocate capital resources to ­resolve the housing conundrum. It must provide extra ­financial incentives, such as tax refunds and subsidies, so that more young people are encouraged to become homeowners.

In the long-term the administration must consider ­amending its townplanning policies.

Jack Chan Ming-chung, Tai Po