Letters to the Editor, December 14, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 4:50pm

Health care vouchers not accepted by all

I am an elderly permanent resident of Hong Kong. Therefore, I am eligible to claim government health care vouchers worth HK$2,000 every year.

These vouchers are issued by the ­Department of Health to subsidise the medical expenses of Hong Kong residents aged 65 and above. The initiative is very laudable and benefits a large number of old patients.

However, my experience has been very disappointing so far.

By and large, the private clinics, specialist physicians and ­surgeons, as well as diagnostic laboratories, refuse to accept payment of consultation fees or other charges by vouchers, even if the treating doctor has given a referral letter to the patient.

I urge the government to make it mandatory for all of them to accept payment by the vouchers.

Otherwise, these vouchers will become redundant in the hands of recipients, which will defeat the whole ­purpose of the scheme.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Bright lights are a hazard ­to animal life

I agree with your correspondent Daniel Hui, that the government must do more to tackle the ­effects of light pollution in Hong Kong (“Publicise the dangers of light ­pollution”, December 3).

People need to be educated to do their part to reduce light pollution, but there must also be regulations on the needless use of bright lights in public and commercial spaces.

Light pollution can have an adverse effect on ­the general environment and specific ecosystems. It can harm the reproduction or migration ­patterns of animals. And this is something that affects many countries. For example, strong lights can disturb the breeding ­habitats of green turtles. Some local authorities now ban beach-front lights during turtle nesting season.

Birds are affected as well. If their migration patterns are disrupted by light pollution, many birds could die. Also, they end up being confused by bright lights, as they cannot tell whether it is night or day.

So there is a need for the government to control the brightness of lights in Hong Kong, especially in ­urban areas.

High levels of light pollution also make it difficult for local residents to get a good night’s sleep, with bright light from billboards shining into their bedrooms. This is all the more reason the government must act.

Malaika Amien, Tuen Mun

Waste move at public events a welcome step

I refer to the report on Hong Kong’s efforts to fight waste at public events (“Eight major events targeted in war on waste”, December 11).

A lot of waste is generated at major public events which draw millions of people, so I support the government scheme to have organisers at eight events doing waste audits and implementing waste reduction measures.

In the past, some event ­organisers have been reluctant to get involved in large-scale ­recycling, and huge volumes of waste were generated.

Hopefully, that will change with the implementation of this scheme. It is part of a raft of policies which will hopefully enable Hong Kong to catch up with the regional countries that have made great strides in waste ­reduction, such as Japan.

Under this new scheme, we can expect to see event operators dealing with waste in a more environmentally friendly way. It will also form part of the government’s waste-charging policy.

Waste collected at these events will be charged between HK$365 and HK$395 per tonne.

In addition to this scheme, the government must keep ­promoting the 4Rs – reduce, ­reuse, recycle and replace.

However, it is not just up to the organisers of major events to embrace these principles.

All households in Hong Kong should be making the effort to reduce the volumes of waste that they generate. The average Hongkonger throws out about 1.39kg of household waste each day. We all need to do our best to ­ensure a greener Hong Kong.

It can make a really big difference if more households cut back on waste through a greater focus on recycling.

Rainbow Or, Tseung Kwan O

People should carry their own water bottles

I support the government’s decision to stop stocking its vending machines with bottled water of one litre or less from early next year.

I believe this measure will help to reduce the volumes of discarded plastic that are ending up in our three landfills, which are nearing ­capacity.

The city discards 2,000 tonnes of plastic every day. Much of this plastic is environmentally ­unfriendly when it ­degrades, adding to pollution.

Hopefully, not being able to buy smaller water bottles from vending machines will encourage more people to carry their own water in reusable bottles.

However, there should also be recycling bins next to each vending machine so that, if someone does buy one of the bigger plastic water bottles, it can then be ­recycled.

I hope that the government will step up its campaign aimed at reducing the levels of waste being generated in the city.

Hilary Lee, Hang Hau

Lawmakers earned salary in good faith

Grenville Cross draws the right conclusions, but makes a false comparison with Australia in his article on the local government’s bid to claw back earnings and ­expenses from four ousted ­Legislative Council members (“Hong Kong should waive the debt of disqualified lawmakers”, December 8).

In Australia, the ousted legislators knew that their dual ­nationality disqualified them from office, and the law was not changed retrospectively.

In Hong Kong, our elected legislators took up office validly under the Legco Ordinance and according to the interpretation of Legco procedures applied by its ­president, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.

All the more reason to apply Cross’s recommendation that sums worked for in good faith by the Hong Kong lawmakers, and properly payable at the time, should not be taken back by a retrospective change in the law, even if that change is clothed in the ­spurious ­respectability of ­“reinterpretation”.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels