Humanist Association of Hong Kong


November 2013

Nuclear bomb ponds

Time and time again we read comments on nuclear power that it is clean and even green and very often, as seen in the letter “Time for Japan to stop using nuclear power” (SCMP September 21, 2013) the commentator also mentions, ‘although it carries with it risks of radioactive contamination.’

It can’t be both and this contradictory statement is heard from the ‘best of brains’!

We appreciate the letter writer Brian Au sees solutions away from nuclear power generation. The present portending catastrophic situation at Fukushima should frighten all of us into pleading with our governments to radically move into the renewables direction and stop absolutely nuclear power generation.

However, at this moment, the resources we can muster - globally - must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from this badly damaged pool 100 feet up in the air which could easily come down in the next earthquake.

Thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are today and everyday pouring into the Pacific. 

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the nearby site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool. But nobody knows exactly where those cores are. 

More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 metres from Unit 4. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment and it is vulnerable to loss of coolant. Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. The fuel rods in Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged. 

Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing massive quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool would likely crash to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and explode. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries. 

In reality this is another job for the United Nations, to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and move these fuel rods to safety. 

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


March, 2013

Dear Editor,

Just a comment on the letter “Nuclear plant rethink is a global issue”, (21 March 2013). We would like to point out that, as photos clearly show, the nuclear plant at Fukushima was structurally intact following the terrible tsunami that hit that coast.

With the lack of power going to the coolants for their temperature control it only took a certain number of hours before the plant itself started to overheat and the result was self destruction.

Nuclear plants, like any plants, have to be carefully looked after but unlike other plants, they don’t simply die when such care ceases, they explode with all the mass radiation consequences of a nuclear weapon.

We agree with Raymond Chan Kwun-hin, that this is a global issue and all governments and environmental organisations need to closely re-examine nuclear power plant programmes. We add, in particular the Chinese government and by default Hong Kong.

Why is the Environment Department not actively proposing their deactivation and presenting alternatives which today abound - see Germany’s example for one - in what sense is it an environmental department?


Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Dear editor,

Conan Lee Chung-man, writing on the situation of the people of North Korea is unwittingly at cross-purposes with himself. He can substitute the term Communism with Capitalism and be closer to the truth.

Taking note of the Occupy Movement - not Hong Kong’s limited edition stoked by Bennie Tai - in reality the problem can be restated as: “The people of North Korea have suffered a great deal in the name of Capitalism... in some countries in Asia and Africa, millions of people are living in grinding poverty. If the huge disparity between rich and poor is ignored in these nations, then sooner or later the poor will rise up in a revolt that could be like a volcanic eruption.” That’s the non-violent intent of the Occupiers worldwide!

Likewise throughout the West - given the self-seeking bankrolling austerity measures of the all controlling financial institutions. Communism’s raison d'être is to tackle economic and power disparities and it sees a system totally opposed to that of unenlightened Capitalism. 

China’s success under Communism is easily evidenced and North Korea’s problems are caused by international sanctions, as per Cuba, as per Iran. Sanctions in the name of freedom and democracy are a clever decoy. However, the North Korean’s might just be turning a corner into a self-made better future given their experience in going it alone... Cuba and Iran are examples of that.

Internal strength is what the West lacks because the western system is based on the shifting sands of paper money and individualism whereas Asia still works with the group and that can develop into national community and regional community.

When China, Japan and a united Korea act together what can oppose them?


Date: April 4, 2013

To: Alberti Province of Buenos Aires,

Mayor Ms Marta Medici. 

It has come to our attention that there is a social action and demonstration taking place in your city. The neighbours are worried about certain environmental problems, pesticide spraying and associated hazards - and have a mounting solidarity from the people of the country. A group has began this direct action - which is nonviolent - as a last resort in the absence of clear and concrete answers, having exhausted administrative remedies within the Town of Alberti, and from the Governor of the Province and Federal Government, and having exhausted the remedies and also all instances to have reached the Supreme Court of Justice with a ruling in favour of the neighbours. That's why, decisively, a Neighborhood Assembly has unanimously decided to start a camp in the main square and a hunger strike on top, to demand the Municipality of Alberti to meet the following points, (taken from the activist’s manifesto) which is gaining international newsworthiness: 

1)       Ban aerial spraying of pesticides throughout without exceptions Alberti; prohibit the spraying of pesticides on land within 1,000 metres of rural schools and suburban neighbourhoods in all locations, using existing Ordinance (1960/8) under the Supreme Court.

a)       Invalidate Article 4 of the current Ordinance 1960/8 granting special permits for ground spraying within 1,000 meters from the last house. 

2)       Compliance with environmental legislation: Hazardous Waste Act No, 24051 - General Environmental Law No. 25,675 (the Precautionary Principle) - Agrochemicals Act No 10 699 - Article 41 of the Constitution - Article 28 of the Constitution of the Province of Buenos Aires 

3)       The irrevocable resignation of the Chief Food Science and Current Environment Maria Zunino.

4)       Give the category Environment Secretary to the control area of environmental issues separating that department out from the problem.

5)       We demand that the municipality make an urgent Alberti works for drinking water network, binding popular consultation intofor the project and work. If drinking water is impossible to think of our health ... it is our right. 

6)       We demand that the Municipality of Alberti through Albertino Municipal Hospital perform an epidemiological report that is to be taken seriously and held in conjunction with the University of La Plata. 

7)       We propose to create an ecologically protected and GM free - GM not less than 5,000 meters suburban area , as an agro-ecological accompanyment to local projects.

8)       Immediate closure of the open dump of the property that is polluting groundwater and watersheds. 

These points are not negotiable, must be documented and signed by the Mayor of the Municipality of Alberti or whoever is appointed as replacement, also president of HCD, the chairmen of the political blocs of HCD and endorsed by the neighbours, accepting all points of the petition and till then we will stand down as a camp and end the hunger strike, which will otherwise place the UD as official responsible for the health and safety of demonstrators.

Commitment from you is expected as Mayor and we wish to begin a transition of the management to one where common sense is your engine to manage and not the interests of economic powers.

Tony Henderson

Chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Dear Editor,

We fully agree with the writer of “Quest to end alfresco dining hurts tourism” (SCMP 18 May, 2013) and extend that title to include the hurt such policy does to local residents.

Anyone wanting to start a small eatery is stymied by the diligence of government paid inspectors who bring in the police to take small-time operators to court for mounting tables at the door, which closes down those well-intended and popularly welcome small business that are trying to supply a service very well anticipated by locals and holiday makers alike.

It is clearly big business that is backing those government efforts at control, and medium size businesses go along with those policies and fail to defend the rights of small shops and street vendors and the result is the Singaporisation of Hong Kong. Now we have entire streets devoid of variety and shade with hot reflective concrete replacing the little awnings and shady spots once freely availed by the stalls and shops outside their premises.

Instead of welcoming quality competition the larger establishments want to bring customers into their places but they have to admit that the crowds are no longer passing their doors... street life is being undermined, thus the attraction of The Mall.

What is happening to the corner shop will also happen to those businesses outside these huge conglomerations of air-conditioned but expensive high-end reaching monoliths. 

Far-sighted government can avoid all the pitfalls by relaxing, nay, doing away those regulations which further drain all the money into the big time coffers. This would also increase self-employment and general employment, offer cheaper food and entertainment options and decrease the social tensions throughout society.


In SCMP, May 2013

Karen Prochazka is spot on in her letter “Cannot justify destroying environment” (appearing May 29, SCMP) and it’s not just the Hong Kong or Chinese government that needs to reassess the damage caused by following a continuous growth path, the entire planet is threatened.

What was newsworthy a year or so ago and which has already started to fall by the wayside is the Green Economy concept.  This means a better quality of life and better opportunities for everyone, sustainable development, a healthy environment and a rich and meaningful cultural life. 

It demands a decentralised economy and subscribing to co-operative ideals, as against the to date competitive style.  This means District Boards with localised policies and control over their own funds.

A quality human life means social welfare systems, free education up to employment levels; that people have decent affordable housing, wholesome food in sufficient quantity and reasonably priced, also socialized medical and health care, localising everything can bring about ample possibilities for employment besides freedom of choice in affairs. Participatory democracy is important for this to be done.

The ideals of a Green Economy are born out of a look that optimises the traditional economic model, one that is integrated into the civil ways of human life and supported by advanced technologies. In that way it facilitates harmony between human being and Greater Nature and is sustainable. 

Green Economy is an organic collaboration of the market with ecology, and it fully realises the values of natural resources and ecology. It is a benign development model resulting from the organic combination of recycling within both the economy and nature.

Everything needs a re-think, with a new mind set applied. Relying on renewable energy sources more and more and taking on waste treatment as a means to generate employment and dollars is possible with a new green industry as a long term development programed with the Hong Kong population directly involved. 

Green infrastructure calls for many in-between tasks and thus jobs. Re-thinking the sub-contracting system and get rid of middle-layers sucking off the money to no good end - money to go to the worker level directly not to agents of subcontractors.

Rather than the Asia’s World City misnomer how about Hong Kong as an International Green Metropolitan City as the defining term accompanied by an active conservation policy for what already exists by way of buildings of character, districts with historical elements, important species-rich or specialised habitats with particular flora-fauna.

Buildings should not to be treated as commodities, constructed and sold for financial gain. Solar hot water panels, passive air-conditioning, heat and light sensors to control apertures, heat insulated glass, and heat ventilated roofs; these are the needs of buildings built with the end-user in mind and that are energy efficient. 

Duplication of further examples of recycling as per Sha Tin's secondary sewage works that saves half its oil bill by using the methane by-product of its treatment process as fuel.

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association


Dear Editor.

We would disagree with Christine Loh on charging households for their waste (SCMP Tuesday, 17 September, 2013, “Charges one tool for waste management”) - despite that Green Groups have already took the bait and fell into the trap! 

To charge commercial operations is necessary as they have to be responsible for an efficient operation of their business and no doubt they look at final costs so they would and would have to incorporate the cost of waste disposal and would become more efficient.

However, ordinary householders have too many financial impositions and regulations causing not just financial stress but psychological stress as well.

The administration costs to government alone should deter such scheme.

If the general situation can be bettered for households with available and affordable housing, employment prospects, continuing health care as per today, good transport, local security, handy and cost-free schooling, plus future bright prospects and importantly - if there is a working recycling scheme aimed at Zero Waste - the question of such charges would not arise.

Total Use of Waste - the Germans surely have a machine where you toss in anything at all and a multitude of bi-products will be continually shooting out from all sides leaving nix at the last outlet. This machine would be a comprehensive employer as well!

The ordinary householder is already under pressure and it is entirely wrong to give further  additions to the householders plight. You are the Undersecretary for the Environment, solve the problem! 

Tony Henderson, 

chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Statement on the situation on the Korean Peninsula

Humanist Association of Hong Kong

April 15, 2013

Press release

The Humanist Association of Hong Kong notes with concern the escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula and is totally opposed to any state threatening another, especially when that threat involves the use of nuclear weapons. The implication that nuclear weapons can be used as a way of conducting international relations holds us in dismay. We see that if the situation escalates into violence it is the average citizens of those areas who suffer. The war games and war talk by all parties involved is threatening the security of the region and – the entire world.

We condemn the actions and rhetoric from all sides of the conflict. Such behavior is bringing into play a systematic militarization of the whole region  - to the profit of weapons suppliers - and this conflict is being used to amplify and secure geostrategic interests (for one, the encirclement of China) and can bring about the nuclear  militarization of Japan, increases in occupying military bases, and the establishment and deepening of military alliances – provoking an extended NATO – into the Pacific region. 

This state of affairs is linked to nuclear weapons; this conflict is being used by the nuclear weapons states to legitimize the modernization of their nuclear arsenals. This is leading non-nuclear weapons states to believe they need to obtain nuclear weapons. Thus further fragmenting the already fragile Non-Proliferation Treaty efforts. 

Nuclear weapons must be abolished now and forever. This conflict is being used to legitimize the deployment of missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

The aggressive acts and statements coming from North Korea are acts of war not of peace and dialogue; while the military maneuvers adjacent to North Korea by South Korea and the USA, are also aggressive and provocative actions. The provocation by both sides can draw down war in a moment and that would lead to more than a regional catastrophe. 

Dialogue, negotiation, and immediate moves towards disarmament are urgent necessities.

The exchanges of threats, counter threats and military build up makes the situation worse day-by-day and such posturing may mislead either side to take the other seriously which takes us all on a potentially irreversible path to nuclear war and global destruction. 

We repeat - Global Destruction.

We want that both sides in this confrontation recognise the enormity of what is at stake should a violent conflict erupt. Talk more and threaten less, we say, establish a culture of peace and dialogue. Leave off from the ancient war mentality. Work instead to understand and respect the plight and culture of others. The USA needs to take the first step as a modern nation understanding that North Korea is cornered and friendless and is only reacting to what it sees as continuing pressure both economic and military. The ball is in the freer nation’s court. Thus we appeal to those with maturity in the USA to cease their provocations in this region and embark on a completely different tack, one leading to the real politic of respect and tolerance, aid and friendship.

Tony Henderson, Chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Humanists demand the cessation of military aggression against Libya

Under the slogan given by Silo in 2004 in Punta de Vacas: "With a violent approach to violence there will not be peace," the Humanist Association of Hong Kong with the other humanist organizations across the world humbly asks for the cessation of military aggression of the US-led coalition, with France and Britain, in the territory of Libya.

The Humanist Association holds responsible not only to the United States and member countries of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), but also the UN in its complicity, for the armed attacks taking place against Libya on the pretext of defending the population.

In this regard, the Team Coordinator of the International Humanist Party recently said: "France was the first country to attack, and Sarkozy argued that his motivation was ‘to end the murderous madness of Gaddafi.’ However, both France, like Britain and Italy, have had very close links in recent years with the Gaddafi regime. Perhaps now, after what happened in Japan, where popular opposition to the proliferation of nuclear power plants has increased has affected France which gets most of its energy from nuclear power, so more than ever France wants to ensure access to oil from Libya. "

The Humanist Association, as one of the sponsoring agencies of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence that took place in 2009, then took the valid stand which is worth reiterating today:

• global nuclear disarmament,
• the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from all occupied territories
• progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons
• signing non-aggression treaties between countries and
• that governments declare they will never use war as a means to resolve conflicts.

In this regard: "We demand that the various powers withdraw their troops from invaded territories and that the international community restarts non-violent strategies for conflict resolution in Libya.

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