Letters to the Editor, October 4, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 5:05pm

Tax incentives can help to reduce waste

I refer to your editorial (“HK must deal with waste in haste”, September 27).

In Hong Kong, we should take note of the policies introduced in France and Sweden in an ­effort to cut volumes of waste as we try to reduce the quantities of waste generated in the city.

If we cut back on our use of plastic cups, plates and cutlery (which will be banned in France), this could ease the pressure on landfills, which are nearing capacity. Fast-food restau­rants use a lot of disposable tableware.

We can also learn from ­Sweden, which offers tax incentives to encourage people to get electrical appliances ­repaired rather than throw them away. This will lower maintenance and repair costs, which can often be higher than the original price of the product.

I can imagine there would be stiff resistance from some firms to a version of the French law in Hong Kong. If plastic utensils were banned, their manufacturers would have to lay off workers as profits dropped. The restaurant sector would oppose it, arguing that operating costs would go up. Most fast-food chains use disposable tableware, which is more convenient and economical as they don’t have to hire as many dishwashers.

I think looking at making tax changes would be feasible as a way of encouraging people to get electrical appliances repaired, especially if it meant that getting your fridge fixed was going to be a lot cheaper than buying a new model.

If these appliances have a longer lifespan, fewer will end up in our landfills.

Queens Fung Ka-man, Sham Shui Po

France’s plastic ban will not work in HK

Plastic waste is having a grave impact on our fast-filling landfills. However, the new policy of the French government that you refer to in your editorial (“HK must deal with waste in haste”, September 27) would be difficult to implement in Hong Kong.

We live in a fast-paced city where time is money and eateries like fast-food restaurants do not have time to wash utensils, which is why they provide the disposable variety. As a result, we waste a lot of plastic.

Restaurants would certainly oppose a law similar to the one passed in France, which will lead to a ban on plastic plates and ­utensils (from 2020) as they will have to hire more dishwashers. Manufacturers of these plastic products will also be against such legislation, arguing that they would have make employees redundant with their reduced output.

However, I think the tax changes in Sweden would be feasible here. Citizens could get tax refunds if they got white goods like refrigerators and washing machines repaired ­instead of throwing them out. I think there would be a lower level of resistance from different stakeholders to such a move.

Lee Ching-man, Sheung Shui

Students are under too much pressure

I refer to the article, “For young Hongkongers battling mental health issues, support exists but hurdles remain” (September 16).

The number of students who commit suicide increased in the last school year.

Students nowadays face a lot of pressure, especially ­senior students who have to study for the Diploma of Secondary ­Education exam. They can often face pressure not just from the school, but also from parents who want them to get an undergraduate place at a university. Some teens may also be stressed if they are victims of bullying, but I think in most cases, ­students took their own life ­because of academic pressure.

Many are reluctant to share their concerns with anyone else. They bottle up these worries and as a consequence they get worse and their negative thoughts ­intensify.

Often, they will not want to bother their parents ­because they are so busy. And some ­parents might not notice the signs that their children are ­seriously distressed.

No matter how busy they are, parents need to try and find the time to talk to their children and always make it clear that they will support them. And they should let them develop at their own pace rather than constantly pressing them to do well in school.

Schools should also be trying to reduce the pressure and ­provide a happier and more ­relaxed environment for their pupils. If this was done across the board in schools in Hong Kong, I think the suicide rate would drop.

Alice Chin Wing-sze, Kwai Chung

Why green belt sites are so important

The current debate about the government building 4,000 flats on green belt land in Wang Chau has been heated, with much of the focus on the problems surrounding town planning in Hong Kong.

It raises questions about how much development should be allowed in rural districts.

I think when determining how far one should go in developing rural areas, there should be limits. A balance needs to be struck between building infrastructure and protecting the environment.

Green belts are very important to Hong Kong. They are not just barriers between built-up urban districts and quieter areas such as suburbs, they also ­provide sites where people can relax and enjoy their free time in a rural setting.

When a green belt is used as a site to build homes, it is gone ­forever. No artificial site, no matter what facilities it provides, can replace a natural green belt.

Indeed, if the government decides flats have to be built in Wang Chau, why not use brownfield sites? They are far less ­valuable than green belts and their development would have a minimal impact on the environment.

I hope the government will recognise the need to do a better job at protecting the environment.

Lelouch Lin, Sheung Shui

Against having more homeless shelters in city

I refer to the letter by Tweety Sung (“Provide more shelters for street sleepers”, September 22).

I do not agree with your correspondent that the government has to ensure there are enough shelters for homeless people in Hong Kong.

Providing them with more shelters means that they will come to rely too much on the government.

Street sleepers can instead do something for society, such as looking for a job, not just ­depending on government welfare.

Short-term measures like additional shelters are not sufficient. What is needed is for the government to deal with the city’s housing crisis, by getting to the root of the problem, which is a shortage of affordable homes.

Kaylie Lai, Kwai Chung

Teens showed they really care about society

It has been two years since the Occupy Central movement was launched.

Its supporters were responding to Beijing’s decision on how the chief executive candidates would be chosen for the 2017 election. Hongkongers had hoped that the chief executive would be elected by genuine universal suffrage.

Many of the Occupy Central activists were teenagers and I think a lot of older citizens changed their views about the next generation after seeing the attitude of these youngsters.

In the past, young people born in the 1980s and 1990s had been accused of being selfish, but now they were showing that they cared about the future of Hong Kong.

I think the campaign was justified and I regret not joining the protesters on the streets. We are the future leaders of society and have an obligation to struggle for a better and more democratic Hong Kong.

I think Hongkongers can be justly proud of this memorable period.

Katie Lee Hoi-kei, Kowloon Tong