Letters to the Editor, June 02, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 June, 2015, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 June, 2015, 5:35pm

Chief executive committed to improving air

We refer to H. P. Kerner's letter ("Departments play the blame game over air", May 25).

The chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, has been putting emphasis on improving air quality since he assumed office in July 2012.

He committed to various air quality improvement measures in his first policy address in 2013; and continued to highlight the importance of dealing with air pollution in each subsequent policy address.

For example, it is with the chief executive's support that we have been able to implement three major schemes to reduce emissions from diesel commercial vehicles, taxis and public light buses, as well as franchised buses.

He was also fully in support of new initiatives to deal with marine emissions, leading to new legislation on cleaner marine diesel being sold in Hong Kong, and on requiring ocean-going vessels to switch fuel at berth.

Departments are continuing to collaborate. There is a consensus within the government on the growth of private cars, which needs to be addressed. Mr Kerner's accusations are unfounded.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment, S. M. Yau, undersecretaryfor transport and housing 

Follow lead taken by EU to cut waste

I do agree with Tom Yam's article ("Hong Kong's plan to reduce its waste enters the realm of fantasy", May 18), but we also must consider what is commonly described as waste is not waste per se.

The Environmental Protection Department is constantly misusing this term. Most of the refuse which we throw into dustbins or recycle bins is a resource. Recycling converts this resource into useful, often valuable materials.

The department is still in a time warp, and with its waste levy it is behind the curve. As Tom Yam describes it, it is a folly to believe in waste reduction of 40 per cent especially also when the department does not really describe what it considers to be "waste".

The European Union wants waste to be managed as a resource by 2020.

Recycling and reuse of waste are economically attractive options for public and private players due to widespread separate collection and the development of functional markets for secondary raw materials.

Energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials, landfilling is virtually eliminated and high quality recycling is ensured.

Hong Kong, a city with limited geographical expanse but with tens of millions of visitors and passengers (airport expansion) will have some constraints to expand the recycling companies in order to digest the quantity of total refuse which is bound to increase.

This industry needs large spaces for storage and processing, and, last but not least, a large sales market; it will therefore be imperative to have unrestricted government support.

The responsibility of the government must be to organise the separation, collection and logistics of refuse to be made available to the recycling industry.

It will also be important to talk to the authorities in Guangdong province to organise cooperation in this field.

After recycling, as for the small quantities of the waste that remains, Hong Kong can take care of it. Also, landfills and the incinerator can be scaled back in dimensions. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay

Ask questions about third runway

Many very valid questions have been raised about the proposed third runway - economic need, air space, noise and air pollution, and the loss of marine habitats.

All these questions have been ignored or brushed aside.

But there remains one very big question (a real elephant in the room) which no one apparently dares to confront.

When (as seems normal with these big projects) the inevitable massive cost-over-run occurs, who will pick up the bill?

Will it just be dumped back on the government?

We taxpayers deserve an answer.

R. E. J. Bunker, Lantau

People can simply decide to 'not vote'

In your description of Beijing's unremarkable rejection of the pan-democrats' ideas in relation to the upcoming vote on the system of election of Hong Kong's future chief executives ("Pan-democrats 'will pay' for a no vote, June 1), you report that IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said that "the officials had quickly dismissed every counter-proposal, such as introducing a none-of-the-above option for voters".

Actually this option is one that Beijing and its officials have no control over whatsoever. Voters simply need to "not vote" to exercise this democratic right - the right not to vote.

The only way Beijing could undermine this intrinsic right is by forcing the Hong Kong government to introduce legislation making it a punishable offence to not vote or spoil ballot papers. In which case those who did not vote, or spoiled their ballot papers, could take the legal consequences and Beijing the political consequences.

This story is far from over, even if it may appear that Beijing has drawn a line under it. Such is life. Once again, it seems that none of us get what we really want, but if you start to think outside of the box, you can start to live outside of it also.

Jon Fearon-Jones, Macau

Schools must organise more PE lessons

I refer to your editorial ("Healthy body, healthy mind", May 18).

Nowadays, Hong Kong students not only have physical health issues, but also psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression and some study too much and suffer from burnout.

The main reason for these problems is the heavy workload they face with so much homework and revision. It is hard for them to get the right work-exercise balance, but youngsters do need to be more physically active.

The Education Bureau should encourage schools to have more PE lessons. By taking time out to exercise, youngsters can find a healthy way to cope with the pressure they face.

Bobby Au Yeung, Sheung Shui

Citizens need green-belt sites to relax

I refer to the letter by James Wong Chun-ho ("Green belts offer better flats option", May 29).

I disagree that there is a lot of green-belt land that could be rezoned for the building of flats, rather than putting them in country parks.

Although many of these green-belt sites have a lower value, in terms of the environment, than country parks, they often provide the only suitable spots in the city where you can relax.

The air is probably a bit fresher and there are slightly lower temperatures during the heat of summer.

With global warming becoming more serious, and more roads bringing more cars and the construction of new malls, there are fewer available places in the city to plant trees that can absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

Hong Kong is very small and densely populated and people need decent housing. But converting green-belt land for this purpose will lead to a lot of trees being felled.

It needs to look at areas where there is potential to build flats, such as recreational facilities that are not really needed.

For example, there are already sports facilities near Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. This is duplication and this site could be used for flats.

The government should also expand, wherever possible, programmes of house building on top of shopping malls.

It needs to coordinate with developers.

It also needs to try and offer more help to residents living in run-down poorer areas of Hong Kong, such as Sham Shui Po.

Christy Lam, Tseung Kwan O 

Some country parks are not that popular

I refer to the letter by Carmen Li ("We should build flats in country parks", May 20).

With a population of more than seven million and rising, some people are homeless while others have to endure substandard accommodation such as subdivided units and cage homes. Building homes in country parks can help us address this problem.

The country parks cover large areas of Hong Kong and they are not all being fully utilised by people for such activities as hiking and picnics.

If there are areas which have a low usage rate, it is very wasteful and they can be put to better use with the provision of much-needed homes.

While we need to recognise the importance of protecting the environment, it is important to get the balance right and recognise the need for development. We must ensure that fewer citizens are having to endure poor living conditions such as cage homes.

Louis Fung Lam-lap, Sau Mau Ping