Letters to the Editor, January 25, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 5:08pm

Make students more aware of cyberbullying

There has been an increase, both abroad and in Hong Kong, in the number of victims of ­cyberbullying (“Toilet photos used to ­cyberbully children as young as 10”, January 21).

As the internet becomes more popular globally, and youngsters send a lot of text messages and use so many ­different websites, the problem is becoming more serious.

Cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and it must be curbed as far as possible. If we do not crack down on it now, the incidences of this form of cybercrime will only increase and could get out of control.

In Hong Kong, schools have to take action and teach children to adopt the right attitude ­towards the use of the internet. And this message must be put across from an early age to raise students’ level of awareness.

I feel that schools are ­neglecting this important ­subject. Students who lack that awareness are more likely to ­become victims of internet bullying on social networking sites. I think schools should act as the first line of defence.

They can also help teach young people the right attitude to deter those who are tempted from ­getting involved in ­cyberbullying.

The government should get schools to start teaching programmes on this subject as soon as possible. Children should be free to enjoy the internet ­without fear of being harassed.

Rainbow Or, Tseung Kwan O

Brownfield land can spare sensitive sites

The government has not done enough clear and in-depth ­research on brownfield sites.

There is a lack of any standard definition of what is meant by “brownfield”. This has led to ambiguity about what is a brownfield site. Without the proper research, we do not have the most basic information needed to determine how much of this land exists in Hong Kong.

A Liber Research Community study estimated there were about 1,200 hectares of brownfield land in Hong Kong.

Even if a fraction of this was properly utilised, it would help to ­increase housing supply and avoid the destruction of the environment that could result from other projects adopted by the government to make more land ­available for new homes.

There must be more detailed research on brownfield land so that we can determine how much can be used to increase housing supply. This research should also consider the ­ecological sensitivity of alternative projects, such as land reclamation or destruction of ­green-belt sites.

Currently, despite the environmental destruction that would be caused by land reclamation, there is no clear prioritisation between these projects and brownfield development in the government’s “Hong Kong 2030+” plan on land use strategy.

There does not appear to be an option put forward to scrap the plan to create 1,000 hectares of reclaimed land for the East Lantau Metropolis and instead allocate brownfield sites in other parts of Hong Kong.

Valerie Ng, Tin Hau

Our country parks should be protected

In his final policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said it might be necessary to develop land of “lower ecological value” in country parks for public ­housing and other community facilities. I found his comments alarming, especially if they are supported by his successor.

Country parks are important because they offer ­leisure ­opportunities for Hongkongers, and offer relief from the stress of city life. They also offer habitats for many species, ­including more than 240 kinds of butterflies and are proof of Hong Kong’s biodiversity.

It would be a great loss if areas of country parks were seen by officials as a way to solve our housing problems. This would harm our international reputation. The government would be accused of destroying the natural environment ­instead of trying to protect it.

I am a frequent visitor to country parks, and believe the administration should be trying to expand the park network and get schools to make trips to it an integral part of the curriculum.

My friends and I really enjoy hiking. And if the government did more to promote the parks abroad and enhance ecotourism, this would be in line with sustainable development.

I accept that we have a housing problem and there is an ­urgent need to address it, but our officials should be considering building on brownfield sites and vacant government land, not country parks.

Anfield Tam, Quarry Bay

Dissatisfaction growing over housing policy

One aspect of Hong Kong’s housing crisis is that the poor are finding their plight becoming more unbearable, and more of them are being forced to live in ­subdivided flats.

Some of these units are ­located in old industrial buildings, which are totally ­unsuitable and often unsafe.

Even citizens on higher ­incomes struggle to put together enough to buy their own flat.

The government is building more public housing ­estates, but cannot keep pace with ­demand, so applicants for a public flat face long waiting lists.

This is leading to growing discontent, and we are seeing more anti-government protests and an increasing number of ­citizens expressing dissatisfaction with the government and its housing policies.

They ­argue that the administration is not developing enough ­brownfield land for public ­housing.

Instead, it is looking at ­building on more green-belt sites and even country parks. This is ridiculous, especially when some of the brownfield land is near green belts.

The government must change this policy. If it commits to using these brownfield sites for public estates, it will see fewer protests over its housing strategy.

Alan Lai, Po Lam

Fake products pose serious health risk

Yet another article has appeared about food safety on the mainland (“Fake spice trade leaves bitter taste”, January 17).

The Beijing News claims a small town is at the centre of a network of packaging recycled spices and toxic industrial-grade salt, and passing the products off as brand-name flavourings.

This poses health risks if consumers use these ­products for cooking. There have of course been scandals in the past ­regarding fake and tainted food, and it is clear the central government must be more vigilant and tackle this problem.

All citizens should try their best to ensure they are buying genuine products.

Yu Ho-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

Aim for a much greener festival this new year

A lot of waste is generated during Lunar New Year, especially with children being given red paper lai see packets by older relatives.

So many of these packets end up in landfills, and so I urge that people think about the environment this year and either keep them for reuse next year or put them in paper recycling bins.

Also, shopping malls have a lot of displays at this time of year featuring traditional plants, such as peach blossoms, lilies and kumquats, which will also go into landfills. The malls could cut back on real plants in future and reuse other decorations.

It is traditional to have a ­family reunion dinner before the start of the festival. But often too much food is ­ordered and then thrown away. Diners should only order what they can eat or take away the ­leftovers to eat later.

We should all try to have an environmentally friendly Lunar New Year.

Jojo Wong, Po Lam