PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am


Addiction to internet is a real problem

We agree with those correspondents who have talked about overuse of mobile phones and the internet.

Internet addiction is a relatively new problem. To some extent, it can be classified as impulsive behaviour if the users are losing control of how, when and where to use it.

The general assumption is that internet addiction is bad. It leads to low academic scores, poor social skills, loneliness and even use of pornography.

But for the younger generation, the internet is a survival kit because it offers a huge amount of information.

We love to surf the internet although it takes away our time and opportunity to do other things. Without awareness, people may end up spending too much time online and become addicted. Parents and teachers are alarmed at how addiction can affect students' learning ability.

There are many different kinds of internet use, including recreation, information searches and social networking. Different uses may have a diverse effect on academic and social performance. It would be worthwhile to conduct a detailed analysis of the impact of internet use and identify a solution before it becomes an unmanageable social problem.

Carmen W. H. Chan, Choi Kai-chow, Kristie A. Chan, Sha Tin

Hong Kong is welcoming to gays

Jerome Yau makes some engaging comments on discrimination against gays ('Gays should have legal protection', May 23).

However, as an openly gay person in Hong Kong, I differ with this insistence from the community that we all suffer acrimoniously at the hands of a hostile and prejudiced society.

Acceptance of the differences of all people regardless of faith, gender and sexual orientation is the goal of a tolerant society. Yet in supposedly more diversity-mature cities like Sydney, London or New York, the hostility shown towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people - as reflected in, for example, hate killings - is far more targeted than in Asia.

Hong Kong is a tolerant city. For Chinese people struggling with the reality of sexual orientation, the fallout from family and friends is in reality no different from anywhere else and in some cases, given the strength of family ties, can often be better.

The community itself has in recent years come a long way in providing a network of advice and counselling.

Groups such as Queer Straight Alliance and Community Business should be commended for this.

Sexual orientation in the workplace is an issue that has come to prominence with the creation of diversity groups within multinational organisations which endeavour to cater for the needs of their complete workforce, and of course to stave off future litigation from a disgruntled employee.

All these efforts have created a framework that allows LGBT people a place to seek guidance, friendship and companionship.

The government must of course increase its policies to include broadmindedness, acceptance and recognition for all its citizens and LGBT is but a part of that. The city is a welcoming place to live and prosper.

As a member of the LGBT community, I have found respect at many levels of society and believe Hong Kong to be a world-class city where diversity is accepted.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Tax the rich on unearned income

The suggestion by Wong Yiu-chung for differential tax rates does not solve the problem of the wealth gap ('Tax system overhaul long overdue', May 23).

Rather, the solution should be to tax the wealthy, period.

This can be simply done by replacing the present salaries tax (which only applies to earned income) with an income tax which would bring the billions of dollars of unearned income from dividends and the like within the remit of the tax system.

One can easily imagine, however, the storm of protest.

David Chappell, Lamma

Parents cannot meet rising costs

The decision by publishers earlier this month to again increase textbook prices has resulted in heated arguments.

Not all the schools and parents will be able to meet these additional costs. The government must provide more subsidies to both schools and parents.

Publishers should recognise that they have a corporate social responsibility. Although they need to make a profit, they also must think about their customers.

Some people have suggested switching to electronic books, but they can be expensive.

I am also concerned about the strain on young people's eyes from reading too much material online.

Schools should reuse teaching materials. This would save money and would be environmentally friendly.

Carol Lam King-nga, Tseung Kwan O

Small classes worth the investment

I agree with those correspondents who have argued that teachers would welcome smaller classes.

I would be completely in favour of such a move, particularly in primary schools. I believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

This issue has been raised because of the falling birth rate in Hong Kong.

Concern has been expressed over the future prospects of some teachers because of this demographic trend.

In smaller classes, more individual attention can be paid to each pupil by teachers. This allows closer ties between pupil and teacher.

In the modern education system, it is difficult to achieve this with large classes and so the quieter pupils often suffer.

In the long run, young people will benefit from being taught in smaller classes and therefore it is worth any extra expenditure that is required.

Keith Chan, Kwai Chung

MICE are a pest Lantau doesn't need

It is almost biblical on Lantau. First there was the pestilence in the form of Henry Tang Ying-yen's 2004 'Lantau Concrete Plan' [Lantau Concept Plan], fought off with some difficulty by a broad coalition formed from the wider population of Hong Kong.

Now in 2012, the environmental granary that is Lantau is being threatened by a plague of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) thanks to the Lantau Economic Development Alliance.

The businesspeople constituting this group suggest we revisit earlier undertakings to conserve Lantau, and use it instead as a well located land bank upon which their businesses might expand - all for the benefit of the poor people of Lantau, we are assured.

There is nothing wrong with revisiting and revalidating earlier decisions - we do it all the time in our personal lives - but certain aspects remain inviolable and are not up for renegotiation.

In the case of Lantau, it is the recognition, regretfully not yet hard-coded by formal planning, that the benefits of preserving this immense natural island for this and future generations far outweigh feeding some MICE for a few years.

The proponents of letting more MICE loose on Lantau should be aware that the traps are being baited.

Clive Noffke, Lantau

Bars that ban smoking will do well

The Dickens Bar of the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay has strictly enforced the no-smoking ban from day one without apparently losing customers.

They are happy to go there to watch a soccer game and have a beer, knowing they cannot light up, because they are in a well-run bar. They will come even though the prices are not cheap.

Contrast that with a bar I visited in Sheung Shui about nine months ago to watch a match. Locals looked at me initially as if I was a spy, then lost their inhibitions and started smoking.

When you are in a bar like that, it makes you wonder what other laws are being broken; perhaps, for example, the sale of drugs or counterfeit goods.

Don't these publicans realise they are shooting themselves in the foot? They should pay a visit to the Dickens and copy its entrepreneurial strategy.

Because it is so well run and sticks to the law, in business terms it will do well in the long run. As I said, non-smokers are happy to pay the relatively high prices so they can enjoy a few quiet hours in a clean and tidy environment.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling