Letters to the Editor, June 14, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 June, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 June, 2015, 12:01am

Encourage urban farming for health

I am interested in environmental sustainability and our community's integration with nature, and have been researching organic farming and urban farming in Hong Kong.

In 2010, up to 90 per cent of our food was imported from elsewhere.

Not only does this tell us the city's lack of self-sufficiency in terms of food, but it also points to a heavy burden on our natural environment - with this level of food imports, we incur a substantial carbon footprint for their transport. The high consumption of non-renewable energy sources increases greenhouse gas emissions and worsens air pollution.

Countries that supply the food face additional problems. Many in the food industry today use hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and genetically modified organisms in their production, which are bad for environmental and public health.

For example, the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides would contaminate the food chain and ultimately harm our health.

Conventional farming methods such as monoculture, the plantation of a single type of crop over a vast area for multiple consecutive times, also deplete the nutritional value in the soil, slowly turning fertile land into barren deserts.

The result is, we produce less nutritious food at a higher cost to the environment.

Understanding these deleterious consequences, a solution to prevent the problem from worsening and to start creating a sustainable environment is organic and urban farming.

With more local organic farmers in Hong Kong, there would be less dependence on outside sources for food and hence a reduction in food miles. With the food being organic, there would be less harmful substances entering our food chain and ecosystems.

Urban farms can vary in location and size; it can be a windowsill, or a company's rooftop. Urban farming would also help improve our air quality and prevent our flats and buildings from overheating.

In the long run, this may turn Hong Kong into an environmentally friendly city, full of biodiversity and wonders of nature.

By raising awareness of this issue, I hope to motivate citizens to help make Hong Kong a better place for all.

Katrina Sheh, Tai Hang 

Legislation needed to curb light pollution

Light pollution is a serious problem in Hong Kong, especially in the shopping and business districts.

Residents living there complain of sleeping poorly because of the surrounding brightly lit billboards.

The glare of so many lights also means we cannot admire the beautiful night sky and its stars. But what can we do? Complaining to the companies involved in the light pollution is useless, because they don't seem to care.

But the government can play an important role. It should enact a law to improve this situation as soon as possible.

Chan Wing-shan, Wong Tai Sin

Tap solar energy to power up city

I write in response to Christy Lam's letter ("Green features worth having in buildings", May 18). I partly agree with her ideas on how to improve our environment.

The rising demand for energy globally is a problem we have to face up to. Ms Lam suggested buildings here could tap renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and water power, with the help of the government.

I agree with her on the use of solar power, but not wind and water. Solar power is suitable for adoption in Hong Kong.

Although the panels are more expensive to set up compared to the other renewable energy sources, they should be used. By contrast, wind turbines are not suitable for Hong Kong's terrain, because we have many mountains and few open plains, which are needed for wind turbines to work effectively.

The government can help to promote such measures through education. It can also encourage people to use less energy, although this would take time.

As members of this society, we are responsible to face up to this problem and solve it.

Mandy Leung, Lai Chi Kok 

Officials must arrest decline in English

I refer to the report ("Elite overseas schools get land to open in city", May 30).

Three elite schools have been granted sites to operate schools here: Shrewsbury School and Malvern College from Britain, and ESOL Education from Dubai.

Harbour School, which caters to children with special needs, and the French International School were the remaining two that also obtained land grants. Presumably, no land premium was payable, a temptation for school investment.

In 2009, Harrow International School was given a land grant.

One would expect such schools to provide quality education to benefit our local children and raise the standard of English education in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, none of these cater to most of our children, as their parents cannot afford the fees at such schools.

Meanwhile, the overall English-language standards taught in our local schools has fallen since the handover. For this, the Education Bureau must bear responsibility.

In these schools, "Chinglish" is taught instead; consequently, poor English is spoken. Incomprehensible sentences and wrong grammar are all too common in the working world.

Since 1997, the standards of Putonghua have improved as our children make steady progress in schools with the support of native Putonghua teachers. Likewise, we need the fullest support of our native English-speaking teachers and the government to arrest the decline of our English usage.

We need the government support's so the majority of Hong Kong's youth can compete in future in the globalised world with their more privileged counterparts in elite schools.

Teachers who fall short of present-day teaching requirements should be decently treated with an option of changing their profession or be pensioned off with no loss of their legal dues.

I appeal to our secretary for education to have the courage to make changes and our financial secretary to turn on the tap to implement these changes, with support from taxpayers.

Ronald Wong, The Peak

Long hours make people less efficient

I agree with those who say that it is bad for people's health to have to work more than eight hours a day.

Individuals who have to work for more than eight hours do face a greater health risk as their heavy workload gives them much less time to rest and to recharge their batteries.

You see some workers with so little time for a meal break resorting to eating fast food and this is not a good diet.

I also think that having to work such long hours actually makes staff less efficient.

If they are having to work continuously for hours on end they feel tired and far less motivated to do a good job and increase their levels of efficiency.

The culture of long hours must change in this international financial centre.

Chris Szeto, Hung Hom