Letters to the Editor, June 30, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 4:05am

Incinerator site folly is sadly symptomatic

There is little doubt Hong Kong needs a waste incinerator, but huge advances could still be made in recycling.

For example, how about a government-led initiative to buy back plastic bottles, at a similar price to that paid for aluminium cans, thereby incentivising Hong Kong's amateur army of aluminium recyclers to also collect plastic? And if Swire Properties can put glass collection points on all their estates, why can't the government?

Sadly, Hong Kong lags far behind our Asian neighbours Taiwan, South Korea and Japan when it comes to household waste separation and recycling.

Given the need for a super-incinerator, it is the choice of location that is totally bewildering. Siting it on a remote island makes no sense at all; the experts all agree on this point.

It will take longer and cost more to build and to run than at alternative locations. Just the infrastructure required is stupefying: the building of a mini-town to house site workers.

Experts agree the Tsang Tsui ash lagoons in Tuen Mun would make a far better location. Alternatively, adapting an existing landfill site would also be far more efficient.

The Environmental Protection Department's excuse for the choice of site, "balanced spatial distribution" of facilities, is absolutely laughable, or would be if it wasn't so tragic.

The saddest part of the whole farce is that the department's preferred site, Shek Kwu Chau island, is a pristine location, a stone's throw from Hong Kong's most beautiful unspoilt natural coastline.

This natural heritage is a treasure that should be protected for future generations - not ruined forever with an industrial facility that would make so much more sense in just about any other location.

Bert Young, Chai Wan


Wrong to infer women are at fault for rape

It is sad to read that the former administrative officer, Mike Rowse, tried to speak for security minister Lai Tung-kwok ("Criticism of security chief one big fat overreaction", June 7).

Mr Lai had made a chauvinist comment regarding rape victims.

No matter how Rowse pays lip service to women's rights to drink and to dress in any fashion they please, and his condemnation of rape, it contradicts his advice to his teenage daughter not to drink too much to avoid being raped.

I wonder if his other family members, including his daughter, really share his view.

The controversy stirred up by Lai's comments is not merely a matter of political correctness. Instead, he made a logical fallacy in blaming the victim. Following his logic, he should advise Li Ka-shing not to speak in public in order to avoid being abducted, and ask ethnic minorities to remain in their homes to avoid being considered terrorists.

Why didn't he make those recommendations? Political correctness? Come on, Mr Rowse. Any sensible person knows those arguments are ridiculous. However, when it comes to gender, faulty logic seems to be much more acceptable to some in power.

Earlier this year, a reported survey showed one in four women polled said they had been victims of domestic violence and almost half said they had been sexually harassed ("Many domestic violence cases not reported: poll", January 22). Census and Statistics Department data indicated women outnumbered men as victims of sexual violence (333 women versus eight men in 2011).

In this context, should we see criticism of Lai's comments as mere political correctness? Or, as people of conscience, should we urge the government, especially the Security Bureau, to plan ways, such as educating boys and men, to fight gender violence?

I humbly urge the powerful to reassure the public that they are uncompromisingly dedicated to fighting gender violence and that women are not the source of it, or at fault.

Mario Liong, North Point


Heritage gems worth more than money

I would like to add a short addendum to the comprehensive letter from Joyce Hung ("Irreplaceable heritage must be preserved", June 16) on the importance of preserving our historical heritage.

Ms Hung quotes the example of 1881 Heritage, the former marine police headquarters and, incidentally, Tsim Sha Tsui area's police station. However, I would submit that this is a very good example of why one of our best heritage sites should have been kept out of the hands of avaricious property developers.

As one who lived and worked there, I can assure you that once there was a wonderfully tranquil ambience, with trees and lawn, that has now completely disappeared.

If our shortsighted government bureaucrats had retained control instead of trying to squeeze the last dollar for our overflowing coffers, we would still have this wonderful example of 19th century architecture in pristine condition.

Conversion to a museum, in that location, would have been a wonderful attraction.

John Wilson, Kwun Tong


Compelling case against shark finning

Banning shark finning is a hot topic in Hong Kong.

Some people object, saying a ban on harvesting and sales of sharks' fins for consumption would hurt the restaurant business, or would go against Chinese culture by removing a traditional wedding banquet dish.

They say it is delicious, nutritious, and, as an expensive symbol of wealth, capable of earning huge sums as a commodity.

On the other hand, a ban on the cutting off and selling of shark fins would help protect the species. Sharks need their fins - used in shark's fin soup - to be able to move through the water, which in turn enables them to breathe. Returned to the water without their fins they die, and sharks could become extinct if the practice continues.

Already the removal of large numbers of sharks from the ocean is having a damaging effect on the food chain. Without balanced numbers of the apex predator, some sea creatures will thrive disproportionately and others suffer. As a result the ocean's ecological balance will be broken.

Additionally nowadays, environmental awareness, such as protection of sharks against finning, is good for a country's international image.

I support banning shark finning because protecting the world's ocean environment is more important than countries' local economies.

Rex Wong, Tseung Kwan O


Address needs of minorities in war on obesity

I refer to the report ("Ignorance fuels obesity in children, say doctors", June 24).

As a postgraduate student of public health at Chinese University, I understand that childhood obesity is not only a huge obstacle to ensuring individual quality of life, but also a burden for our health-care system and national economy.

I agree completely with Dr Raymond Lo See-kit, president of the Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong, who says parents should set an example to help prevent their children becoming overweight, but I wonder what steps, if any, are being taken to ensure parents act accordingly.

Moreover, apart from the commonly mentioned aspects of breastfeeding, balanced diet, exercise and adequate sleep, I think addressing all facets of health education and promotion is equally important, both at home and in schools.

Likewise, I would like to bring to the attention of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong the importance of understanding childhood obesity.

I belong to one such ethnic minority group in Hong Kong and have been working among them on an education programme dealing with the dangers of childhood obesity. This issue needs to be addressed to this population as well.

There is an obvious cultural difference to the majority of the Hong Kong population, along with the perception by members of these ethnic minority groups that they are of low socioeconomic status.

This population should not be ignored by government and health-care providers and researchers.

Dhiraj Gurung, Tin Shui Wai


Mannerless generation in motion

On June 15, I caught the 1.36pm bus from Discovery Bay to Sunny Bay, a journey of about 20 minutes. The bus was quite full, with all seats being taken and 16 people standing.

All those standing were adults, with some of them senior citizens. Amongst those seated were eight children, in two groups, all seemingly aged eight to 10.

What I found disturbing was that not one of the children offered their seat to an adult, even those of advanced age.

Not only that, but their demeanour suggested doing so had not even occurred to them. When many of us were young our parents trained us to give up our seats to elderly people.

Now, it seems, adults are expected to give up their seats to young children and these children, on growing older, expect to be seated, as of right.

Do readers find this a worrying trend, especially since the consequence appears to be the situation described above?

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay