South China Morning Post, May 30, 2016
Traditional characters are much better
I refer to the letter by Eunice Li Dan-yue (“Why simplified Chinese should make a lot of sense for Hongkongers”, May 14).
Although simplified Chinese has fewer strokes than traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese does not follow a general pattern of traditional Chinese pictographs. So, it is more difficult to learn simplified Chinese as there are many irregularities.
Your correspondent believes that the increase of the overall literacy rate is mainly due to the introduction of simplified characters. This might be one reason, but we should also consider other factors such as compulsory education.
The overall literacy rate of Taiwan is just over 98 per cent, while the overall literacy rate of Beijing, is also just over 98 per cent. Therefore, I see no correlation between the use of simplified Chinese or traditional Chinese and the literacy rate.
Most of my classmates can indeed comprehend simplified Chinese characters even though they have never received any education on them. Therefore, they are entirely capable of reading mainland publications. Even if they don’t, the digital age means translating from simplified to traditional Chinese is effortless.
Traditional characters are visually and aesthetically more attractive than simplified characters.
Traditional characters have been used for more than a millennium and are used in calligraphy even on the mainland.
The debate over this controversial issue is quite complicated and I must admit that giving detailed arguments on this in a short letter is impossible.
Dickson Yiu, Mid-Levels
Wind power is not the solution for Hong Kong
I refer to the letter by Christy Wong (“Wind power can lower air pollution levels”, May 26).
I partly agree that finding renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuel like coal is good as it reduces air pollution.
However, I do not see wind power as being practical in Hong Kong. It needs a lot of land and wind.
Hong Kong does not have sufficient space for wind turbines. Also, they are very expensive and are not very efficient.
They do not generate a great deal of power and wind turbines could not provide enough power to meet Hong Kong’s needs.
While they would clean up the air, I do not think residents would support having wind power.
Although renewable energy is eco-friendly, it will be difficult for Hong Kong to have it.
Also, with regard to water power, we do not have sufficient rivers to make that possible. The government should be adopting other measures to deal with our pollution problems.
Purchasing electricity from other places would not be a bad idea.
Different regions in China generate power in various ways, such as nuclear power and water power. We could buy electricity from some of these regions.
Also, as individuals we should be trying to adopt green policies.
We all need to be less wasteful and reduce our use of electricity which will lessen our use of fossil fuels.
If we all tried to be environmentally friendly, we could deal more effectively with our pollution problems.
Holly Yuen, Sheung Shui
We can all help to cut back on food waste
Over 3,600 tonnes of surplus food is discarded in Hong Kong every day and most of it ends up in our landfills.
Most of this surplus food comes from commercial and industrial enterprises, such as restaurants, hotels, wet markets and the food production and processing industries.
Some surplus food is turned into meals, which are given to people in need, such as the elderly who are poor and children from low-income families.
We can all do our bit to try and cut back on food waste.
For example, when we are having dinner, we should only prepare what we can eat and only order what we need in a restaurant.
It is important that we should do that, because what we leave on the plate will end up in one of our landfills which are nearing capacity.
At home, we should try and use our surplus food, such as soup, for a second meal.
Anson Lam, Tseung Kwan O
Organic farms need thorough approach
Concerns over the safety of food and other products imported from the mainland have led to more Hong Kong consumers opting to purchase organic food.
It is seen as a safe alternative to China’s food, which is often tainted, and so more Hongkongers are purchasing organic food at least once a week.
However, we have to ask if the quality of organic food can be maintained. The government has been attempting to address the issue since 2002 through voluntary certification.
Nevertheless, as can be seen in recent vegetable sample tests by the Consumer Council, the initiatives have been proved to be unsuccessful. It was discovered that, of the 75 vegetable samples collected which claimed to be organic, 12 contained heavy metals and 28 had residues of pesticides.
The problem is that there currently does not exist a legally stipulated standard of organic foods in Hong Kong. While countries like Australia have a stringent export standard, Hong Kong does not. Important variables such as the site of organic farms, their composition and design, the method of production, the controlled use of pesticides, and the permitted amount of pesticide residues in the produce itself are all left for private certification bodies like the Hong Kong Organic Resources Centre to define.
The lack of mandatory, city-wide certification means that the authenticity of produce claimed to be organic cannot be verified. From the consumers’ aspect, their economic interests and health are potentially compromised.
They are paying high prices for products that might not be genuinely organic, and they may be eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals. For genuine organic farmers, the lack of government support and universally endorsed regulation puts them at a disadvantage, especially when they are up against reputable imports from industrial-scale organic farming in other countries. There have been calls from the organic farming sector for a mandatory organic certification scheme in Hong Kong.
It is important that the government takes a comprehensive approach to the issue. It must support the healthy and sustainable growth of the local agricultural industry, by giving consumers the necessary assurances so that there shall continue to be demand for locally grown produce.
Toby Yeung , Sha Tin
Raise the bar for security guards
I am concerned about the quality of security guards in some public housing estates.
Security guards are a common sight at private and public estates in Hong Kong. Their role is to ensure the safety of residents.
I have noticed that the guards employed by public estates are not of the same calibre as those in private estates. They tend to be older and their educational level is not as high as those guards employed by private developments. I am concerned that if they were faced with an emergency, such as an accident involving residents, they might not be up to the task of handling it.
The government should impose entrance conditions, including a set level of education, which candidates have to meet to be considered eligible for employment. And before they start full time, they should go on a course so that they are trained to deal with incidents such as an accident. They should be able to take the initiative when necessary.
Wong Ho-ming, Tseung Kwan O