Letters to the Editor, November 16, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 November, 2015, 12:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 November, 2015, 12:03am

Use bag levy to boost glass recycling

While accepting that we must change our behaviour and produce less waste, there are many actual and perceived challenges and barriers in handling the waste that we create.

One factor affecting heavy items like glass in particular, is the high cost of arranging its separate collection.

This is one of the reasons why only some 10 used glass bottles out of 100 are recycled in Hong Kong.

Economics is preventing more used glass bottles finding their way to the local brick factories among other plants, that are choosing to crush and recycle this material instead of importing new raw ingredients like river sand.

Glass bottle collection rates are set to improve when the new legislation to impose a levy on importers of certain products in glass bottles comes into effect.

The intention is that this levy will be collected and directed to finance the recovery of ultimately some 50,000 tonnes of glass bottles per year.

While this will be a massive step in the right direction, that goal will still only account for around 50 per cent of the estimated used glass bottle generation.

The Hong Kong government has adopted a "retention approach" for the plastic shopping bag charge, whereby retailers may retain the 50 cents per bag that they collect without the need the remit the income to the government.

Store owners are instead encouraged to donate this income generated from the charge to support "suitable environmental causes".

I strongly encourage retailers to direct this plastic shopping bag charge income to programmes like Green Glass Green (an initiative of the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association), that organise various glass bottle collections throughout certain areas in the territory and desperately need more funding to expand their collection service.

This will thereby improve glass bottle recycling rates which will save needless import/consumption of more raw materials as well as avoid glass bottles using increasingly precious space in the landfills.

Fiona Donnelly, Happy Valley

Clerics should recognise need for tolerance

May I be permitted to introduce a new word to the vocabulary of Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung ("Condemn gay acts like drug abuse", November 11) and, perhaps, Cardinal John Tong Hon: tolerance.

As a heterosexual I cannot understand why anyone would want a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex.

As a rugby and cricket fan I cannot understand why anyone would want to watch a basketball match. As an atheist I cannot understand why any intelligent person, in this day and age, can believe in a god.

But I have friends whom I respect who are gay; my children love watching basketball; my wife, whom I adore, and many of my friends, are Christian.

I repeat the word, for the benefit of the cardinal and the bishop: tolerance. That is what life is very much about, for reasonable people.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Over-schedule bridge will lose money

The South China Morning Post is hosting an infrastructure forum on Thursday to debate whether or not the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau bridge will be a white elephant or a cash cow.

I think your expectation of "a clash of convictions set to shape views" is ill-conceived.

The only debate worth having is how mammoth the elephant will be; and if it will be white or red.

This project is already delayed and well over budget, and the artificial island for the Hong Kong boundary crossing facilities is facing some major unforeseen engineering settlement problems.

The economic justification for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge has been extremely overstated, especially as this massive project contradicts transport policy not just by giving preference to road, but by totally excluding rail.

It even fails to adequately integrate the Hong Kong International, Zhuhai and Macau airports, which surely required a minimum of vision.

The chance to incorporate innovation for electricity generation by using sun, wind and tidal applications on this infrastructure has been avoided. It appears certain that this bridge will be a "red" elephant because it will lose money, and because our officials have again pandered to mainland interests at the expense of Hong Kong taxpayers (as they did with the floundering express rail project).

The haste to fall in line with mainland sponsored projects has seen building work proceed without Hong Kong's normal thoroughness of pre-construction testing and geotechnical inspection.

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen never needed much encouragement to "pour concrete", on the premise that the mega-size of this project will create numerous business and job opportunities.

This project is a cash cow for the construction industry but no one else.

Your advertised debate participants represent the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, AsiaWorld-Expo, and the Lantau Development Advisory Committee. They will doubtless speak in glowing terms of grasping the opportunities to support China's "One Belt, One Road " strategy, but it is difficult to avoid the reality that Hong Kong has been sold down the river with his unwarranted project.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai 

Internet causes students exam problems

I refer to the report about common mistakes which were found in the Diploma of Secondary Education oral English exam (" 'My doctor is in sour': where pupils trip up", November 10).

The examiner's report found that some candidates pronounced some words incorrectly, for example, pronouncing "lack" as "lick". Since most of our English teachers are Chinese and not native English speakers their English pronunciation may not be the same as that of native English speakers.

I also think young people trip up because of their frequent use of internet platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp where informal English is commonly used. Teachers need to remind students about the difference between formal and informal English.

The examiner's report showed the common errors made by candidates in the exam and made recommendations.

I hope teachers will take note of these recommendations and help students keep their mistakes to a minimum.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

HKU students want Chan appointed

I refer to the report ("HKU hit by third leak of a council member's speech", November 10).

This leak regarding the council meeting of the University of Hong Kong was said to be of council member Rosanna Wong Yick-ming. She was explaining why she was opposed to the appointment of Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to the position of pro-vice-chancellor.

She was quoted as saying, when opposing his appointment, that she was concerned about "the potential risk of further division in the community". I do not think that Chan's appointment would result in polarisation of the university. Those who oppose Chan are coming up with spurious reasons to prevent him from being appointed.

He has wide support from HKU students and I think he is the best person for the job. By contrast council member Arthur Li Kwok-cheung does not enjoy widespread public support, even though the chief executive is reported to want him to be the next council chairman. HKU students do not want this to happen.

However, I think all council members should abide by the confidentiality agreement.

Efforts should be made to ensure there are no further leaks. People who disclose discussions in council meetings should face serious consequences.

Cheung Chun-yin, Lam Tin 

Provide street sleepers with more shelters

It saddened me to learn that McDonald's outlets are gradually becoming shelters for homeless people.

In fact they are such a common sight in these restaurants that other diners barely notice them and just get on with eating their meals.

This is why for hours no one noticed the elderly woman who died in a McDonald's last month.

One veteran social worker said this trend of homeless people using McDonald's (known as "McRefugees") has existed for about 16 years ("Homeless taking shelter in McDonald's", November 1).

This proves that the government has failed to deal with the problem of street sleepers in Hong Kong.

The tragedy in October is a clear sign that it must now do so and it must take appropriate and effective action as soon as possible.

It must provide more single-person public housing.

Also it has to build more shelters for the homeless.

Finally, officials must look into how they can provide more low-skilled job opportunities for those individuals who are willing and able to work.

We need to recognise that street sleepers are entitled to some form of protection.

Tsang Yuen-ying, Yau Yat Chuen