Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What a Waste!

The Independent

Unused food: What a waste
Britain throws away £20bn worth of unused food every year - equal to five times our spending on international aid and enough to lift 150 million people out of starvation
By Cahal Milmo

15 April 2005


There's a nasty, smelly problem out there, and it's not getting any smaller. With the economy booming, we just keep buying things. And then throwing things away. And all the time a tide of rubbish is creeping closer to our front doors.

It stems from the boxes your trainers and your PC come packaged in, and the bottles holding your wine and the carton holding your pizza, and then from the trainers and the PC themselves when you get rid of them, as you soon and surely will, seeking newer and better ones to go with the newer and better decorations and furniture your sitting room requires.

Britain's throwaway society is consuming more than ever; it is also, as a consequence, creating waste faster than it has ever done before. Never mind industrial and commercial waste, there is a mushrooming mountain of domestic waste, the stuff that you and I produce at home.

Fifty years ago, the main contents of our dustbins was indeed dust, or in fact, ashes from domestic coal fires, upon which much household was burnt, thereby shrinking its volume enormously. Now we burn nothing at home. We load our bins with a steadily-growing pile of pizza cartons, drink cans, fast-food remnants, packaging of all kinds and mammoth piles of paper.

Figures now show that a fifth of the food we buy in supermarkets goes straight into the bin.

The throwaway society shows no signs of changing course: consumerism has us too firmly in its grip. But the waste mountain that leaves behind is now starting to spill out of its landfill sites ....

Though the above is about UK, it is relevant to all developing and developed countries.

As we become more affluent we tend to buy more things and food than we actually need and discard those we don't like or can't consume more freely. And in Singapore as the green light has been given to the opening of 2 integrated resorts more waste is to be expected.

It is high time we checked our senseless behaviour.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hong Kong people have to decide what to make of its future?

Hong Kong people have to decide what to make of its future: MM Lee
By Channel NewsAsia's Hong Kong Correspondent Roland Lim

HONG KONG : Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said the Hong Kong people had to decide what to make of its future and how to work with its new Chief Executive.

On a visit to Hong Kong, he said he believes the territory can work within the 'One Country, Two Systems' framework and thrive.

Mr Lee is a friend of former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, and met him in private on Tuesday.

The inevitable question about Mr Tung's performance came up during a lunch where Mr Lee addressed a gathering of the business elite.

He said Mr Tung was too nice, not sufficiently young and nimble enough, and was not a street-fighter.

But that is the past - Hong Kong's future lies within the 'One Country, Two Systems' framework.

Mr Lee said: "Within those limits, you can thrive and prosper, as indeed, the Chinese leaders have shown that they are not unhelpful. When I was last here, all these changes - allowing your companies special permission to operate in China and tourists to come without hinderance, the economy was not as buoyant.

"Now property prices have gone up 40 percent, but please remember, the same tap that was opened, can be closed. I am not sure it is my job to tell the next Chief Executive how to be a street-fighter."

As for his assessment of Acting leader Donald Tsang, Mr Lee said he had a completely different personality compared to Mr Tung, younger and likely to learn from his predecessor's mistakes.

He noted Hong Kong had come a long way since the handover in 1997 and can thrive, provided it 'does not disturb the peace'.

Mr Lee said: "I said then if Hong Kong offered opportunities of growth, prosperity, business, I will stay but if it didn't, I would leave. Would you consider politics? I said 'no', it's a thankless job, you have a master in China, you have subsidiary masters in Hong Kong, and what Hong Kong was led to believe it wanted in the last few years of Chris Patten and Tiananmen, is what the leaders in Beijing cannot give.

"Beijing has no intention of allowing Hong Kong to be a pace-setter or trojan-horse, to try and change the system in China. Anything you do here in Hong Kong which does not disturb or can be an example what China should do, that they are prepared to allow."

MM Lee need not worry for the HK people as they are a group of innovative, self-motivated and highly adaptable people.

The rule by the British coloniser had ironically spawned a populace that is far more creative and entrepreneurial than an independent democratic country like Singapore. The main reason is probably because the colonial master had granted its people constitutional liberalism - protecting its people basic rights and administering a fair court system and bureaucracy.

The 156 years of liberal governance by the British had not only allowed the Hong Kong people develop their potential freely and fully but also made them more responsible, more accomodating to differences and disinclined towards violence.