Letters to the Editor, April 12, 2017
Education key to cutting back on food waste
I am glad to know that a company has come up with an appliance that can help to reduce volumes of food waste in people’s homes (“Household appliances create greener homes by turning food into fertiliser and monitoring recyclable waste”, April 10).
The Zera Food Recycler can turn this waste into garden fertiliser within 24 hours. The problem of municipal solid waste is serious in Hong Kong, and our landfills are forecast to be full within 20 years, so such an appliance would appear to be a useful tool which can help to reduce domestic waste.
However, its practical application in Hong Kong is likely to be limited. There is simply not enough land that can be used for gardens to grow flowers and vegetables, and so there would be insufficient demand for all the fertiliser that would become available.
I also doubt if there would be room for it in the small kitchens that most residents have in their very compact flats.
The best way to reduce volumes of waste is through education. We need to teach the next generation about the need to ensure they do not produce unnecessary waste. For example, at home we should only cook as much as food as we will eat and so have no leftovers.
Chloe Ng Sin-yee, Tseung Kwan O
Film star’s green message really hit home
I read an article about the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the speech he made when he got his best actor Oscar last year, urging people to become more aware about climate change.
He said, “Climate change is real ... it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species.”
This speech attracted a lot of attention with a global audience. I admire the Hollywood actor for trying to raise public concerns and I’m sure it made an impression on a lot of people.
However, while we often make a commitment to lead more eco-friendly lives, often we revert to our old energy-wasting habits. One of the worst of these is our overuse of air conditioners during summer. Residents of Hong Kong forget that all these air cons help to intensify global warming.
The government must do more to curb air pollution, such as introducing a more comprehensive programme for tree-planting and cracking down on vehicles that emit excessive smoke. And all of us should see ourselves as global citizens.
One way to do this is by using fans as much as possible in the summer instead of air conditioners, and taking public transport instead of driving.
Peter Tam, Tseung Kwan O
Individual actions make a difference
I think all Hong Kong citizens should be doing their bit to protect the planet, and that individual actions can really make a difference.
For example, at home, most of the time we can switch on a fan instead of an air conditioner, and still be comfortable.
We should also choose cloth towels which can be used again, instead of paper towels. And we should take public transport and not private cars.
I also support government proposals to reduce volumes of waste generated by households.
We must act to protect the Earth before the problems become more serious.
Carly Chan, Hang Hau
MTR’s fare discount not really helpful
The MTR Corporation said that “a one-off 10 per cent discount would be applied to fares as part of a package of concessions” (“MTR to freeze fares this year in line with renewed adjustment mechanism”, March 27).
I do not believe that these concessions will achieve the aim of easing the financial burden on passengers.
The 10 per cent discount is not significant when you apply it to actual routes. For example, for an adult travelling from Lai Chi Kok to Central, will only save HK$1.42 per trip.
If you make the trip twice a day, 20 days a month, you will only make an overall saving of HK$56.80, which is a little bit higher than the price of an average dinner in a fast food restaurant. This is not helping us that much financially. Moreover, there is no change to the current fare-setting formula. Discounts are short term, but the formula remains in place “for the next six years”. Therefore the government is failing to get to the root of the problem with the MTR.
The government should at least be imposing some limit when it comes to the MTR imposing fare increases. For example, when annual profits rise by a certain percentage, fares should be frozen.
Kwok Wing-yee, Kowloon Tong
Improve lives of elderly with huge surplus
The people of Hong Kong have a lot of expectations of chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. She has an excellent opportunity to fulfil her ambitious plans for residents.
In his budget speech, delivered in February, the financial secretary said that Hong Kong had recorded a much higher than expected provisional budget surplus of HK$92.8 billion. This huge financial reserve can be used for the welfare of Hong Kong residents.
The government’s priorities are services for the elderly, education, health care and various social welfare schemes.
I would suggest a number of improvements to the benefits given to elderly citizens.
Firstly, while chief secretary, Mrs Lam was chairwoman of the Commission on Poverty and said that the government was likely to back a means-tested pension plan, because a universal pension scheme was not financially sustainable in the long term. In view of this, and given our huge reserves, the Old Age Living Allowance should be raised from the existing HK$2,495 to HK$5,000 per month. This would certainly not be a burden on the treasury.
Secondly, beneficiaries of various welfare schemes should be given an annual bonus equivalent to one month’s amount.
Finally, the elderly health care voucher should be raised from HK$2,000 to HK$3,000.
The elderly should be allowed to enjoy a comfortable old age.
Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay
Teach teens to strike the right balance online
Some teenagers spend too much time on the internet and they can become addicted.
This can happen given that it is so convenient and you can get all the information you need straight away and there are so many computer games to play.
Parents must teach their children about the necessity of striking the right balance, so they have self-discipline when using the web. They need to appreciate the importance of the real world.
Ken Au, Kwun Tong