bling - spring edition 2011

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LSESU - HKPASS is proud to give you, at long last, the Spring 2011 edition of Bling

TRANSCRIPT

  • EDITORS LETTER

    March is always a bit of a paradox. The seemingly impenetrable grey-ness, the unexpected sunshine; the dreading of exams and at the same time, the excitement of planning your summer trips. Well, it is that time of the year again, and it is with pride and a bit of sadness that I present to you the 2010/2011 HKPASS commit-tees last issue of Bling.

    It suddenly seems that Thanksgiving has come early. I have to thank all the writers and photographers who contributed to this issue, it is a plea-sure to see such a range of opinions and photographic talent in our so-ciety. For the first time this year, we recruited a a hardworking and vocal editorial team to whom I owe may-be a coffee... or three! David Chan, Myra Leung, Simon Lam and Nicole Tsui- thank you so much for all the work done behind the scenes, the mundane editing to the more excit-ing chasing after late submissions. And once again, an huge thank you to our very talented Pamela Tam for another absolutely stunning design despite extremely tight deadlines.

    You are about to enjoy a special fea-ture on solid waste management, a

    deceptively dull title for one of the most pressing issues on the Hong Kong governments agenda. A recap of a very busy and productive term follows, especially for our Social Ser-vice arm. The opinion articles this is-sue focus largely on China, its edu-cation, economy and its record on human rights. Side B is a delightful mix of Europes best destinations, the highlight being a report on the HK-PASS annual cultural trip to Brussels this January.

    Finally, a very fond farewell from the committee, and myself. I cannot be-gin to tell you how much I have learnt from this half a year. I wish the next committee all the best, and hopefully Bling will come back even stronger next year.

    Editor-in-Chief,Carmen LukMarch 2011

  • CONTENTS

    FEATURE

    01 What a Load of Rubbish - Solid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010

    09 How Close Are We to Wall-E? On the Solid Waste Problem

    EVENTS

    13 Merry Christmas - Chungking Mansion Service Center Christmas Party for Refugees

    16 Trailblazers - Hiking for Charity

    21 Chinese Migrant Network English Teaching Programme

    23 Lali Gurans - Fundraising Charity Fair for the Esther Benjamins Trust

  • OPINION

    27 If China were a Man - He would just be growing in size imperiously, but not his wisdom.

    29 Chinese Higher Education: At the Crossroads

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    40 Candle in the Wind: In Memory of Mr.Szeto Wah

    45 The Golden Age

    SIDE B

    46 Bestinations 47 Amsterdam 51 Brussels 65 Hvar

    70 Committee Farewell

    FEATURE

    01 What a Load of Rubbish - Solid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010

    09 How Close Are We to Wall-E? On the Solid Waste Problem

    EVENTS

    13 Merry Christmas - Chungking Mansion Service Center Christmas Party for Refugees

    16 Trailblazers - Hiking for Charity

    21 Chinese Migrant Network English Teaching Programme

    23 Lali Gurans - Fundraising Charity Fair for the Esther Benjamins Trust

  • What a Load of

    RubbishSolid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010

  • What a Load of

    RubbishSolid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010

    F E AT U R E

  • v v

    A hotel made entirely of rubbish was erected in the middle of Madrid, Spain, at the beginning of 2011. The German sculptor behind the project, H.A. Shult, said the rubbish hotel was his way of saying enough is enough. People are producing too much rubbish and that must stop.

    That is the sort of publicity stunt that Hong Kong desperately needs.

    For a city as small as ours, Hong Kong produces a phenomenal amount of rubbish. We produce 9000 tonnes of solid waste daily (excluding industrial and commercial waste), that is 1.18 kilo-grams per person, per day. Out of the Four Asian Dragons, Singapore ranks second in per capita waste production,

    and we outstrip them by 1.4 times. These statistics are definitely not something to be proud of.

    With our landfills due to be saturated by 2018, the issue of solid waste manage-ment quite literally exploded in the last quarter of 2010. The Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society (LSE HKPASS), together with the Kings College London Public Awareness and Social Service Society (KCL PASS), hosted a well-timed Solid Waste Management Conference in December 2010 at the University of Hong Kong. Professor Jonathan Wong of the Biology faculty at the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Sino-Forest Applied Research Centre for Pearl River Delta Environment, and Tanya Chan, Legislative Councillor from

    3

  • v v

  • 5

  • the Civic Party delivered enlightening presentations on the pressing issue. The debate essentially centred on the two issues of waste reduction and recycling, as well as alternate waste management solutions.

    Professor Wong began with a positive picture. From 2000 to 2009, the amount of solid waste disposed of at landfills actually declined, though at a much slower rate in the last four years of the period. At the same time, solid waste that went into recycling increased. However, the fall in solid waste disposal was largely a direct effect of the rise in recycling. Waste production as a whole has not gone down, and most of the governments efforts have been directed at recycling, not reducing waste. About half of Hong Kong people eat out regularly, and the culture of disposable goods is particularly strong in our fast-paced city. Both speakers consider legislation as the way forward for reducing waste. The absence of a rubbish tax in Hong Kong is particu-larly glaring, when compared to cities like Taipei. Legislative Councillor Chan pointed to the success of the plastic

    bag tax to bolster the argument for a tax on waste disposal. Within a year of implementation, the tax, which charges HK$0.1 for each plastic bag, has cut usage by a staggering 90%. Creating a legal incentive is definitely a viable means to reduce waste. The responsi-bility of the polluter was also stressed throughout the evening, raising sugges-tions to regulate packaging for manu-facturers, and the issue of construction waste was also flagged.

    The thread of legislated regulation continued in the discussion of recycling. Again, Professor Wong highlighted the commendable progress that has been made in this area. The target of recycling 40% of solid waste, set by the govern-ment in 2005, has been exceeded to reach 49%. However, Hong Kong still lags behind other Asian regions, such as Taiwan, which has an 80% recycle rate. Professor Wong speculates that 65% will be the optimum for our city, and consid-ering that we have achieved a 49% recy-cling rate on a voluntary basis, legisla-tion could be realistically expected to push the rate up. The focus then turned to the very interesting issue of catering

    6

  • waste. Noting that food wastage make up about 40% of the total solid waste tonnage, Tanya Chan put forward the possibility of installing machines that process food waste in such a way that turns it into fertilisers, or even just water. While Professor Wong questions the efficiency of these machines, it is interesting to see that the Hong Kong government has taken up this idea with vigour. The Environment Bureau recently announced that a subsidy of HK$150 million has been set aside to furnish schools with these machines, which cost about $300,000 each.

    As the discussion turned towards the actual waste management process, both speakers agreed that the devel-opment of a new landfill is inevitable, considering the current pace of waste production. What matters, however, is maximising utility from solid waste, and treating disposal at the landfill to be the ultimate, last resort. Urban mining, a process by which precious metals from discarded electronic devices are dug up from landfills and recycled, can significantly reduce the volume of land-fill waste and maximise space for other solid waste that cannot be broken down

    7

  • further. Converting organic waste into energy is another practical solution. Japan, for example, is known for using biomass in powering greenhouses and swimming pools. There is in fact a plan for a biomass recycling centre in the pipelines. It is estimated the centre will be able to process about 200 tonnes of organic waste daily. It is estimated that 7000 tonnes of organic fertilisers and biogas will be produced, which can provide electricity for 2000 families and reduce emission of greenhouse gases by 50,000 tonnes when compared to disposal at landfills. The main problem

    with such a project, other than high costs, is the lack of space in our tiny city with big - excuse the pun - rubbish habits.

    Time is another thing that is running out. Whatever measure the government chooses to pursue, it has to act quick. It can no longer afford to dither, fiddling with its fingers while our landfills, currently the only way of processing solid waste, fill up quickly to the brim.

    n Carmen LukBSc Government & History , 2nd Year

    8

  • On the Solid Waste Problem

    HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO

    WALL-E?

    10

  • Who are we waiting for to clean up the mess for us, so that we can sit back and relax while all problems will be solved for us? The major contributing factor to the waste problem is not the lack of regulation on part of the govern-ment, or the lack of organisations championing the problem. I t is us, humans living on earth