Letters to the Editor, December 30, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 9:00am

Politicians set poor example for youth

As 2017 draws to a close, the world’s deeply fractured political discourse (birthing Trump and Brexit) testifies to election-cycle-driven government that carelessly jettisons our moral and civic responsibilities for ­short-term gain.

The ruthless ambition and backstabbing that plague power struggles are now so entrenched as to be considered run of the mill battlelines drawn in the malleable sand of the race for approval ratings. A preoccupied and disillusioned electorate has been far too blinkered to notice the negative consequences of poor leadership role models. This has imprinted impressionable youth with the mantra that to get ahead by any means remains fair play.

Negative vibes from tearing fair-minded, humane and visionary qualities from the fabric of leadership risk alienating a whole generation of young people from the obligation of a morally and civically engaged life. Calculating cynicism and unbridled ambition is a turn-off for young people. One fears Thucydides’ fear of “a citizen who does not partake in politics is not only one who minds his own business but useless” is about to come true.

Worse still is deplorable parliamentary behaviour furnishing the template for future leaders who couldn’t care less who they have to step on or hurt to get ahead. The world’s future is imperilled if its future leaders emerge from such compromised stock.

Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Australia

Used textbooks a win for planet – and pocket

I agree with correspondents who have complained about how wasteful it is for pupils to have to buy new textbooks every year.

Local pupils have to ­purchase multiple textbooks every year but are often not ­allowed to use second-hand books because they are mostly different editions. But the revised versions are not usually significantly different, except perhaps some ­pictures and case studies.

Countless books end up in landfills every year and parents face a a high financial burden having to buy new books each year. Also , it is not environmentally friendly to discard all these textbooks, since more trees have to be cut down for the paper.

Using second-hand books is not only better for the environment and easier on the pocket but might also have another bonus – useful notes and information left on the pages by the previous owner.

However, take note of the cleanliness and condition of the second-hand books before you buy. I suggest books can be used for three years, before pages turn yellow with age.

Many school student unions, near the end of the academic year, run a used book fair. They are a good chance to save money, and the environment.

Michelle Ho, Tsuen Wan

Clamp down on neon light pollution

I refer to the report (“Blight of light: Why Hong Kong’s neon haze isn’t going away soon”, ­December 23).

Light pollution is becoming a serious issue affecting most residents – and animals – in the city. To a large extent, this is due to the lack of a strong and effective law ­governing outdoor displays.

We can't ignore and remain silent on this issue. If it gets much worse, serious health issues can arise.

Firstly, the flash and glow of lights affects the sleep of residents nearby. If they can’t sleep properly at night, their health suffers and productivity and safety at work is jeopardised.

Many studies have shown the relationship between poor sleep and increased risk of ­illnesses.

The potential health burden for society is high and the government must enforce tough controls on this rampant form of pollution.

Khan Laibah, Kwai Chung

Cyberspace curbs are really misguided

I am concerned about Beijing’s ongoing attacks on online ­freedom and the contrasting ­situation in Hong Kong.

In my opinion, the mainland already has enough curbs on freedoms – speech, online chats, and travel. Luckily, it is not the same in Hong Kong where we can talk and communicate freely, and travel when and wherever we like.

The central government is too worried people, especially the younger generation, will spread criticism of it online and undermine its rule .

Students in Hong Kong studying in secondary school like me can use phones freely and talk about whatever we want. But mainland students, and others, must be careful about what they discuss or risk punishment under harsh laws.

I don’t know why Beijing has to be so anxious to crack down. Not everyone going online wants to attack the government.

I worry about the future if people are not allowed to express their feelings freely about issues in society, or when government decisions affect them badly.

Beijing should rethink their strategy of more restraint and loosen the reins on cyberspace to keep people happy.

Miki Chung Chi-yan, Tiu Keng Leng

Containers far from ideal as housing fix

I agree with correspondents who don’t think proposals to convert shipping containers into ­temporary flats are a good idea.

Not only does the humid climate of Hong Kong, and its cold winters, adversely affect the plan, but the location and the quality of these container flats detracts from the idea it could be an effective fix for the city’s housing crisis.

Container flats would usually be located in remote rural areas because there is not enough space close to the city. The inconvenience of living so far away is unlikely to attract many ­Hongkongers to move in.

As well, the quality and interior design of these container houses is not good enough. Not only can they get hot inside, but the safety and poor sound insulation are negatives. Such houses may also be damaged easily in strong winds and typhoons. Some designs do not include their own toilet and kitchen.

Any large-scale development would affect the environment and given that rents are unlikely to be considered cheap, I think the government should work on improving their quality before offering container houses as an option for the disadvantaged.

Alice Ma, Tseung Kwan O

Ban plastic utensils to cut pollution

Plastic waste not only puts tremendous pressure on Hong Kong’s three landfills, it also causes serious water pollution which threatens marine life. The government’s plan to implement a waste-charging scheme is welcome but it can do more.

In Seattle from July next year, restaurants can no longer provide straws and plastic utensils to customers. Such a ban may be effective in reducing waste sent to landfills.

If it works in Seattle, why not Hong Kong? This policy can encourage citizens to bring their own utensils when grabbing lunch outside. Imagine how many plastic utensils we are disposing of every day, after using for half an hour. If we don’t take steps to protect the environment, our descendants will live in pollution.

Anson C.Y. Chan, North Point