Letters to the Editor, June 3, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 4:08pm

Use some spare land in HK for farming

I refer to the letter by Toby Yeung (“Organic farms need thorough approach”, May 31).

With fewer farms in Hong Kong, including organic ones, we need to bring in more produce from the mainland. There is just not enough local supply.

I agree with your correspondent that there is no legally stipulated standard for organic foods in Hong Kong, whether grown here or coming from north of the border. This raises questions about safety and potential risks to consumers.

The pressure to turn available arable land into housing developments has grown with an increased population.

However, as we import more organic food from the mainland, there has to be some form of ­effective quality control.

Some vegetables have been found to contain heavy metals and residues of pesticides. This is because agricultural technology and safeguards are not highly developed on the mainland. Farmers may be ignorant about the need to adhere to safety guidelines. The authorities need to set up an advisory group to give them some guidance and help them acquire new skills. Regulations are needed here to ensure that all food that vendors claim is organic meets minimum safety standards.

I would also like to see farmers being encouraged to cultivate the arable land that is available in Hong Kong so that more organic produce can be grown and sold locally and we become less reliant on the mainland.

Winky Wong, Sheung Shui

Trail runners not allowed on park trails

It could only happen in Hong Kong: the government actively discouraging healthy activities in the country parks.

In January, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department arbitrarily introduced a country park usage guideline without any public consultation.

It is using these guidelines to refuse permits to trail running events that have run successfully for decades without any incidents.

Its justification is that the use of non-named trails for events is harmful to the flora and fauna. Of course, the use of the same trails on the other 364 days of the year by hikers and runners is conveniently ignored, but it is perhaps only a matter of time before these bureaucrats tackle that “problem”.

They are effectively attempting to herd users on to the bigger trails. This policy is completely counter-intuitive as it increases the already significant problem of erosion on these trails.

The government’s solution is state-sponsored ­vandalism – in the form of ­concreting the trails.

Hong Kong is blessed with an extensive network of trails, many of which are now overgrown and are being actively ­removed, with department encouragement, from newly published maps.

Surely the department can see that the best way to deal with erosion is to open up and ­encourage use of ancient trails, thereby taking pressure off­­ ­the popular trails, like the ­MacLehose Trail.

The government’s preferred solution, limiting access to the country parks, is shameful and incredible, given the emerging health crises caused by obesity and pollution, not to mention the well-publicised policy of ­selective urban development in country parks.

Stuart Leonard, Sai Kung

Query about tainted water monitoring

In the report from the ­inquiry into the lead-in-water ­incident, I see no mention of what the government has or will do for the many people, including young children, who had been consuming lead-tainted water for quite a long time ­before it was discovered.

Are these people being monitored and perhaps detoxified (chelated) to clear them of the lead in their systems?

If the government is in fact looking after these unfortunate victims, the public would surely like to know.

Bruce Vaughan, Central

Youngsters can make effort to deal with stress

I refer to the report, “Hong Kong children wait more than a year for mental health treatment as list increases to 27,000” (May 25).

Youngsters have greater need of this kind of treatment because of the pressure they feel from their studies.

They have to deal with too much difficult homework, and frequent tests and examinations. Sometimes, if their ­teachers show a lack of understanding, students find it more difficult to deal with that stress. The situation can be exacerbated when they fail to meet their academic goals and are scolded by parents.

There are ways to ease the pressure and students can take the initiative. They can take up hobbies that they feel might interest them and this can help them relax.

As a Form Four student, I feel the same pressure as my classmates. My pastime is playing the piano. I play it whenever I have time and it really helps me to ­relax. It actually gives me the ­energy to do my homework.

Having an interest in a healthy activity can make you feel motivated. Youngsters should also try to enjoy their studies. They need to appreciate that homework is one way to review the knowledge we have learned and the acquisition of knowledge is important.

Even though there is a lack of specialists and psychiatrists in Hong Kong, youngsters can still seek advice and support from teachers and parents if they are having problems.

Lem Hau-yin, Yau Yat Chuen

Don’t just point to misbehaving mainlanders

Many of us will have read about the passenger whose shoes were thrown in a bin by another passenger because he was sleeping with his socks and shoes off in the Xiamen (廈門) airport and occupying a number of seats.

Edward Wong reminded us that mainland passengers often behave badly (“Good manners probably too late for adults”, June 1).

Although I am not trying to defend the behaviour of the sleeping passenger, I would like to point out that you also see this and much worse behaviour in the first-class lounge of Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, and they are locals and Westerners who either lie flat out on sofas or have their feet on a coffee table.

At least the mainland passenger took off his shoes and socks. Passengers in the first-class lounge put their feet on a table with their shoes on where people place food and drink.

They could have just come from a toilet or another area with a wet floor. I have complained several times to lounge staff and written to Cathay, suggesting a sign be put up asking people not to put their feet on the tables, but this disgusting behaviour is still tolerated.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay

Bookseller’s case is a cause for concern

The exact whereabouts of Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong bookseller who vanished in Thailand last October, remains a mystery.

He is a Swedish citizen and it is believed he was abducted by Chinese security agents.

His daughter Angela Gui, testifying to a US Congressional Executive Commission on China hearing, said, “I still haven’t been told where he is, how he is being treated, or what his legal status is, which is especially shocking in the light of the fact that my father holds Swedish, and only Swedish citizenship.”

The plight of China’s political prisoners – Christians, North Korean refugees and dissidents – raises serious concerns for the civilised world.

That the Chinese Communist Party is willing to depart from international norms to carry out its nefarious schemes is becoming increasingly evident, as the case of Gui aptly illustrates.

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado