Letters to the Editor, June 26, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 3:44am


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Widespread waste charges are essential

Nowadays, it seems that all political parties oppose the landfill extension proposals, not just for Tseung Kwan O, but for the other districts.

The government seems stuck, partly through its own weakness, and it now faces strong opposition on environmental and other issues in society. However, discussions were more rational when former environment secretary Sarah Liao Sau-tung presented the 10-year Waste Reduction Framework Plan in 2005, where landfill extensions and incineration were included.

It received considerable acceptance from various stakeholders, as it was comprehensive, holistic approach to waste management that put the emphasis on policies that were likely to boost waste avoidance, coupled with the necessary end-of-pipe measures.

As a green group, Friends of the Earth (HK) understands the need for waste avoidance policies and waste treatment facilities to achieve holistic waste management.

But the government must act swiftly and do more in the area of waste avoidance instead of giving high-profile support for landfill extensions and incineration.

I visited Taipei City recently on a study trip focusing on waste management. There are many good practices that our government should learn from.

Taipei introduced legislation on waste charging by volume in 2000, and its government has subsidised waste recycling so that residential estates and commercial buildings can collect over 10 different types of recyclables. These subsidies are needed for recyclables with a low market value. The city authorities also employed workers to look after recycling facilities at housing estates every evening for three hours, to teach residents to dispose of various types of recyclables in collection bins.

To effectively tackle the big growth in waste in Hong Kong, the top priority should be waste charging for the whole society. Landfills are inevitable but in order to lengthen their lifespan and avoid future extensions, they should not accept waste that has not gone through certain treatment processes. If the waste is recyclable, it should be banned from landfills.

Only with these policies can we solve our critical waste problem.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director-general affairs, Friends of the Earth (HK)


No trucks needed to deliver waste

In his letter ("No denying this view of waste plan", June 14), John Steventon stated that a long bridge would be built from South Lantau to the island of Shek Kwu Chau for thousands of refuse trucks to deliver waste to the proposed integrated waste management facility.

This is untrue. No such bridge or trucks are needed. The municipal solid waste will be compacted into enclosed containers at the existing refuse transfer stations and the containers will be transported to the facility by marine vessels in a clean and efficient manner.

At present, this waste is delivered from the refuse transfer stations on Hong Kong Island and in West Kowloon by specialised vessels to the landfill for disposal. The Environmental Protection Department has 20 years' experience delivering containerised waste by sea efficiently without causing any littering problems or nuisance.

Mr Steventon was concerned about the smoke emissions from the waste management facility.

The emissions will fully comply with the internationally most stringent, European Union emission standards for modern waste incinerators.

Many such modern incinerators are being operated around the world. It will not cause any unacceptable environmental impacts.

We will set up an open and transparent monitoring system and provide the public with easy access to the emission monitoring data.

Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection


Dangerous precedent set over Snowden

As an American who has had the great fortune to visit and live in Hong Kong for a period of time, I am concerned for what I see as a slippery slope over Edward Snowden's departure.

However you view what Snowden did, you can't ignore the law or the spirit of good faith that countries enter into when dealing with diplomatic agreements.

The Hong Kong government says that, yes, it was aware of an extradition request but because of a paperwork issue, it couldn't detain him.

The decision to have no faith in your legal system, and take the casual "out" with clerical errors does not bode well. Today it's a foreign national, but what happens when a Hong Kong citizen finds he or she is in an awkward situation abroad and the government tries to help but is met with the same apathy or willingness to overlook the agreements the country has made with Hong Kong?

Actions determine your credibility in the world, whether as an individual or a people, and Hong Kong has now lost some of its credibility. When the politics of this is gone and the excitement of it is in the past, what will be remembered is the bad-faith act Hong Kong exhibited.

Lee Elliott, Fullerton, California, US


Government enhanced HK's reputation

Our much-maligned government acted with consummate professionalism in the way in which it handled Edward Snowden - both during his presence and in his departure.

Congratulations on a job well done enhancing Hong Kong's reputation as a place where the rule of law and freedom of speech are paramount.

David C. Parker, Pok Fu Lam


Praising loyal father of whistle-blower

I watched a television interview with Lonnie Snowden, the father of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

He said he wanted his son to be safe and happy and "I know you're your own man and you're going to do what you feel that you have to do".

I salute Mr Snowden for having such an extraordinary son who has spoken out because he is a man of principle.

I also salute him for being a loving father and not blaming his son over the leaking of state secrets. Although we are living on different sides of the world, I believe human beings hold some universal values no matter what our cultural roots are and what political system we adopt.

William L. Zhang, Singapore


'Secrets' pages help classes to interact

There has been a trend for school students to open "secrets" pages on Facebook.

Our school has followed suit and I welcome this online facility.

It is such a good idea as it provides a platform for pupils to share their views and learn more about the school.

Anyone can join and the confidential nature of the page allows people to frankly express their opinions. Sometimes, they just share views and memories.

It also enables people from different classes to talk to each other.

As students always want to know what is going on in their school, I think these Facebook pages will definitely grow in popularity.

Tsoi Wing-tung, Sheung Shui