Letters to the Editor, March 22, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 5:33pm

Waste charge scheme will hurt the poor

In defending its new waste ­disposal charge scheme, the government of Hong Kong cites the success of similar schemes in cities such as Taipei and Seoul, but I think it is unfair.

With the present plastic bag levy, you can choose whether or not to buy one for 50 cents or bring your own. However, as all households generate waste, everyone will have to pay for the new rubbish bags. It will be a form of tax which applies to everyone, rich and poor.

For well-off families, the estimated cost of HK$51 a month will not matter much, but this is a lot for low-income families. It will also hit certain sectors hard. Catering firms, for example, will have to pay a high monthly fee. This, in turn, will make eating out more expensive.

If the government really wants to reduce waste volumes, rather than imposing this levy, there is a relatively simple solution. Set a reasonable threshold for free disposal according to the size of a family or company, and charge more when that threshold is ­exceeded. This scheme would target those who generate excessive volumes of municipal solid waste.

However, even with a reduction in volumes of rubbish, our landfills will still reach capacity. That is why the construction of an incinerator and expansion of present landfill sites are essential.

Tse Yuk-man, Tuen Mun

Reduction at source must be key objective

Hong Kong’s growing food waste problem is alarming, leaving us faced with an impending saturation of our landfills, while those living in poverty are often forced to go hungry. Waste treatment plants are also ­costly for the ­government.

The key to reducing the ­volume of municipal solid waste is reduction at source.

Recognising this, the administration has implemented ­measures (such as the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign) to raise public awareness and get citizens to think more about how we can all help to ­address the problem of mounting waste. The aim is to change the behaviour of the community, including companies, when it comes to ­consumption.

If waste is reduced at source, less food will be sent to the landfills.

I also support the establishment and expansion of food banks. More than 20 charities and community groups run these banks and they can help underprivileged families. ParknShop cooperates with these initiatives, which provide nutritious food to the needy.

If more food banks are established throughout the city, then food that ends up as municipal solid waste could instead be given to the poor in our society.

Also, all citizens must play their part to cut waste at source.

Janice Lee, Yau Yat Chuen

Cameras in taxis raise privacy issues

Jessica Leong can see the advantages of having closed-circuit television cameras installed in taxis (“CCTV in taxis can make drivers behave”, March 6).

Like your correspondent, I do not take taxis frequently as I find them too expensive. However, when I have flagged one down I have not experienced the rude treatment she described.

I believe ill-mannered taxi-drivers are in the minority. With the rise of Uber, drivers have to recognise that they face greater competition and must try harder to attract more customers.

I do not think there is any need to install CCTV cameras, because this raises privacy issues. However, I do support the new rating device. It allows passengers to give their opinion, and hopefully the drivers will be responsive and make the necessary improvements.

If they do this, I am sure taxis will become more popular and they will not have to worry about rivalry from Uber.

Tom Poon, Tseung Kwan O

Food trucks could offer seating options

Hong Kong’s food truck operators should take note of feedback and make the necessary improvements.

Some have complained about high prices and the quality of dishes, so prices must be cut and, where necessary, quality improved. People won’t visit the trucks if they can buy the same food for less in local eateries.

Also, tables and chairs should be provided near the trucks for customers. This will make the food truck experience more enjoyable.

As for location, it is fine to position the trucks at top tourist spots, but they should not park near MTR stations.

Kary Chan, Yau Yat Chuen

Think carefully about what tempts tourists

Letters in these columns have commented on the new food trucks and tourism.

Tourism should not be used as a panacea for all problems or as motivation for developments that can change the culture of a country or city.

As a tourist, these food trucks will not encourage me to make another visit to Hong Kong, but I may well be put off from returning if the government gets rid of all its street ­traders.

It has to be asked what ­attracts tourists to Hong Kong, and how more can be tempted to come without fundamentally changing the city’s culture.

For example, earlier this week we visited Tai O, and found the experience interesting but also unsettling.

Interesting ­because the trip allowed us a glimpse of a reasonably unchanged world of local small fishermen.

Unsettling because of the squalor and pollution.

How can the experience be improved? By forcing all the ­vendors to use food carts? Of course not.

Some health education programmes, as well as subsidies for cleaning up the ­surroundings, might do the trick though.

Carsten Rasch, Cape Town, South Africa

Social contact suffers if teens glued to phone

For most teenagers, smartphones are an essential part of their lives. These devices help them to keep in touch with ­family and friends, but they can have a negative effect.

Because they are spending so much time on their mobiles, these youngsters interact a lot less with the people around them, so there is less one-on-one contact. As a consequence, bonds ­between relatives and friends are weakened, and relationships deteriorate.

Also, as they are online for far too long, some youngsters may develop a smartphone addiction and rely entirely on their phone to communicate with the outside world. Teenagers must recognise the potential risks, show self-discipline and reduce their smartphone use.

Daniel Hui,Tseung Kwan O