Letters to the Editor, January 26, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 5:31pm

Time of year to remember the environment

I am concerned about the ­volumes of waste generated in Hong Kong during Lunar New Year.

It is customary for adults to give younger relatives money in red lai see packets. Every year, environmental protection groups urge citizens to keep these envelopes and reuse them the following year.

But Chinese tradition talks about “getting rid of the old to make room for the new”, and so they are mostly ­discarded.

Another wasteful tradition is to make a good start to the new year by having a lavish dinner.

Sadly, people seldom pay attention to the quantity of food they order and many dishes are left uneaten on the table in ­restaurants. In fact, some people think dishes should be left over and so there is a lot of food waste.

Of course, we should respect Chinese culture, but at the same time we must bear in mind that we all have an obligation to ­protect the environment. We should do our best this Lunar New Year to prevent wastage and persuade family members to reuse materials.

Kaecee Wong, Hang Hau

Let’s not forget lunar festival traditions

Lunar New Year has always been China’s biggest festival and we will all be celebrating it in Hong Kong.

There are many aspects to it passed down through generations; for example, distributing red lai see packets and fireworks displays. However, it seems that as times change, some of the ­traditions are in decline.

It should be seen as a celebration of the new year with loved ones. But some people now do not follow the custom of visiting all their relatives and having a reunion dinner. They may even not bother to go and look at the fireworks display in Victoria Harbour.

I feel that some of us are ­losing a sense of what Lunar New Year is all about.

Maybe it is time for us to ­recall the real meaning of Lunar New Year and recognise the ­importance of preserving our precious traditions.

Apple Lee Pui-yu, Po Lam

Trump’s no Reagan but give him time

As the White House becomes Trump’s house, I find myself fastening my seat belt and recalling an earlier improbable president.

Ronald Reagan was a joke in most progressive precincts when he declared presidential aspirations. Critics seemed to forget his experience as a ­two-term governor of ­California.

He reformed our tax code, ushered in a period of robust economic growth, revitalised social security and, with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and a boost from Pope John Paul II, helped craft an end to the cold war. When Barack Obama became US president, he cited Reagan as a transformational chief executive, a role he wished to emulate.

Donald Trump is not cut from the same cloth. He is loud, coarse and vulgar, his primary instrument of communication being an insulting tongue. But it is a great error to underestimate his intuitive appreciation of our politics. Mr Trump is absolutely unique.

I did not vote for either Reagan or Trump. I was pleasantly surprised by the former, and remain open to the same from the latter. Let’s see what he can do.

Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, US

US president owes women an apology

There have been a lot of protests in different states throughout the US over Donald Trump since he won the presidential election in November.

Many of those marching have been women eager to ­protect their rights.

They are concerned that ­during the election campaign he was accused of having made ­derogatory remarks about women.

Opponents claimed he ­regarded them as being inferior to men. Because of this, some celebrities declined ­invitations to attend his ­inauguration.

I hope Trump will reflect on his past comments, apologise to women for any offence he has caused and choose his words more carefully in future.

Lynette Tang Wing-yan, Tseung Kwan O

Air pollution impact can’t be ignored

I am concerned about air ­pollution in Hong Kong which I believe is getting worse.

There was widespread concern earlier this month when it was revealed that in Tung Chung, “the level of harmful PM2.5 particulates had reached as high as 141.3 micrograms per cubic metre, almost six times the World Health Organisation’s safety limit of 25 and well above Hong Kong’s limit of 75” (“Smog from China shrouding Hong Kong poses ‘very high’ health risk”, January 8).

Worsening air pollution causes acid rain which can ­damage plants, including crops.

It can also harm marine ecosystems and adversely affect biodiversity. It creates smog during the day, resulting in high pollution levels here and in ­other parts of the Pearl Delta ­Region.

I am also concerned about the effect it has on human health.

The suspended particulates are particularly bad for people with respiratory illnesses and can actually exacerbate their condition.

The bad air can cause lung cancer and result in premature death. Also, if pollution is harming marine ecosystems, this can affect human health as well, as we eat seafood caught in the waters around Hong Kong.

We must also recognise the cost to Hong Kong’s economy.

On bad air pollution days, smog envelopes the city including Victoria Harbour and visibility is poor.

If this keeps happening, it will put off tourists and harm this important sector of our economy. It puts at risk our long-held reputation ­globally as the “Pearl of the Orient”.

It could also deter business people who are potential investors, but are put off moving to the city because of health ­concerns for themselves and their families.

As more people fall ill ­because of the bad air, public hospitals will have to deal with an increased number of patients with respiratory problems and staff in workplaces will have to take more sick leave.

It is clear that not enough is being done. The government has to act in the short- and ­long-term.

There certainly needs to be greater cooperation with the neighbouring authorities on the mainland to reduce air pollution in the delta region, as bad air from north of the border does ­affect the city.

Natalie Siu Hoi-tung, Yau Yat Chuen

Country parks not the only housing option

I refer to your editorial on the government’s housing policy (“Hong Kong must face up to housing conundrum”, January 24). I was disappointed to see the South China Morning Post toeing the line, buying into the ­government’s narrative and not asking the most obvious of ­questions.

As if developing in country parks is the only option for our housing problem.

What about brownfield sites, particularly government land ­illegally occupied by rural strongmen? What about ­disused industrial buildings, many of which have been converted into unsafe ­illegal housing?

What about land bought by developers but never built on? What about flats built but never sold? And what about flats bought but never occupied?

We need our press to ask these questions, not just nod along to a false narrative.

Nick Banks, Sai Ying Pun