Letters to the Editor, June 18, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 5:44pm

Sweeping generalisations on expatriates

Jason Wordie's Then & Now column is usually one of the more interesting parts of PostMagazine, well researched and clearly based in fact.

However, in his column "The exbrat curse" (June 14), he failed on all counts.

Why on earth does he have such an axe to grind over "expat brats"? In any former colony, there will be the stereotypes that he paints as being the norm, but his column reads like the complaint of a resentful person who has met a few supposed "serial hypocrites" and has decided to tar everyone with the same brush.

Where is his evidence that expatriate children, then or now, grow up with little discipline and an "attitude of unthinking privilege"? Or that there are high levels of drug and alcohol problems? Who are these people - the subject of random anecdotes? Has he interviewed all these people who can only refer to their daddies in job interviews? He litters his column with empirical observations and prejudices.

The sweeping generalisations are insulting to almost all previous expats and do a great disservice to those of us currently raising our children in Hong Kong, since it's unclear whether he thinks expat children are still "exposed to constant hypocrisy".

Janet Walker, Ap Lei Chau 

Cutting food waste at source crucial

It is not surprising that food waste is a problem in Hong Kong given that this is a city that is prone to waste.

So much of the food produced for consumption goes uneaten, with around 3,500 tonnes of this waste ending up in our landfills every day. Most of it, around 70 per cent, is domestic.

This not only places a strain on limited landfill space, but damages the environment. Decomposing food gives out emissions and this adversely affects air quality and leads to more greenhouse gases.

We must look to the root of the problem if we are to deal with it effectively.

We have to find ways to reduce the amount of food being sent to landfills in the first place. In this way, we can extend the lifespan of these facilities and reduce the heavy burden already faced by Hong Kong's environment.

We need a multi-pronged approach to this problem and this is something that should already be in place.

The main focus should be on avoidance of the generation of food waste and this means reduction at source.

Based on the experiences of South Korea and Taipei, when a quantity-based charging system was imposed on waste, the volume of food waste could be reduced by one-third to a half.

It has been estimated that the waste levy proposed by the Environment Bureau could range from HK$20 to HK$40 per month when it is introduced.

I do not think this is a very high charge.

Also, the emphasis is not on whether the levy can cover the cost of waste disposal, but to provide an economic incentive for the public to reduce food waste and other solid waste production, to cultivate a culture of waste reduction.

Although the charge will eventually lead to reduced volumes, we will not see improvements overnight. It is up to individual citizens to start cutting back on food waste.

We can all just think before we purchase more food than we need.

Just order realistic quantities in a restaurant and encourage others to do likewise.

Joanna Lo, Ap Lei Chau

We can all become green shoppers

With the substantial increase in the volume of domestic waste in Hong Kong, our landfills are nearing capacity faster than was previously expected.

This high rate of increase is due to population growth and our wasteful lifestyles.

All Hongkongers must shoulder responsibility for environmental protection and we can act as individuals.

We can make the conscious decision when shopping to purchase products on the shelves which have less packaging.

We can also look for products, where possible, which have been made with recycled materials, for example, paper and notepads. And we can ensure that we recycle.

Widespread recycling is an essential part of environmental protection.

The key is for more of us to decide to adopt greener lifestyles.

Candy Kong Lok-son, Tseung Kwan O

Charge will work if citizens cooperate

Government policies up till now have failed to reduce the volumes of food waste being generated every day in Hong Kong.

I therefore support the proposal by the Environment Bureau to impose a waste disposal charge. The key to its success is that it can raise the awareness of citizens, as in a monetary sense it will affect all households.

Most people will not wish to pay a charge for waste disposal if they can avoid doing so. They will become more aware of wasteful behaviour and seek to change it. This has already been shown to have happened in Hong Kong with the introduction of the plastic bag levy in shops. People now use fewer plastic bags.

Critics say a food charge is difficult to implement, but it has been successful in Korea with obviously a larger population.

The charge can work with the cooperation of citizens and the government.

Tse Ka-wing, Sham Shui Po

Traditional taboo that is hard to change

Hong Kong is a place where there is integration of Chinese and Western cultures.

As a consequence, most people having fairly open-minded views.

However, there are still some traditional taboos, even in the 21st century, that some citizens believe cannot be violated.

For example, as some correspondents have already pointed out, Chinese traditional ethics are a barrier to organ donations in the city.

Although such operations have been undertaken routinely for a few decades, it does take a long time to change traditional attitudes and to get more local people to agree to sign up as organ donors.

The government needs to do more in the realm of education to try and change these ingrained attitudes in Hong Kong. But education is a long-term strategy.

It should also decide to launch an advertising campaign now urging citizens to register as donors.

It could even establish a Good Citizens Award and encourage people to be more socially responsible in their lives, including registering as organ donors.

Ivan Cheng, Kwun Tong 

China's claims based on declarations

I refer to the letter by Ashley Steinhausen ("Disputed areas not Chinese territory", June 15).

China's maritime claims in the South (and East) China Sea are predicated on the 1943 Cairo Declaration and the 1945 Potsdam Declaration. They mandated that "Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first world war in 1914, all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed."

The Spratlys, occupied by Japan in the second world war, were returned to China in keeping with these declarations following Japan's surrender in 1945.

The nine-dash line was drawn up accordingly and published in the late 1940s with no demur from Vietnam or the Philippines. However, these two countries began occupying and building in the Spratlys in the decades when China was too weak to defend its sovereignty of these islands.

The stipulations in the Cairo and Potsdam declarations are as sacrosanct to the Chinese people as the principles "We hold these truths to be self-evident" in America's Declaration of Independence and "government of the people, by the people, for the people" in the Gettysburg Address are to the American people.

All these documents represent liberation from oppression and cruelty imposed by one people on another.

Just like Americans defending their values, China will fight hard for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

W. L. Chang, Discovery Bay 

Unacceptable protests against boy

I was disappointed by the radical behaviour of protesters over the 12-year-old boy from the mainland, Siu Yau-wai, who had lived here undocumented for nine years and has now returned north of the border.

Someone that young should not have had to deal with that kind of pressure. Their actions were also unfair for students of the school which had offered to test him for education aptitude.

This kind of radical behaviour damages social harmony.

The protesters who acted in this way set a bad example and acted as poor role models for young people.

If these kinds of protests continue, then Hong Kong is going to acquire a reputation as an unfriendly and radical city. The tourism sector was hurt by similar protests against parallel traders.

Protesters should think about the consequences of their actions before taking to the streets.

Chow Wai-yan, Yau Yat Chuen