PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am


Rose-tinted national education

Many students and parents have criticised the plan to introduce national education in schools.

They see it as an attempt to brainwash pupils and present a rose-tinted view of China, even though we all know that mistakes have been made in the recent past.

The purpose of the course is to strengthen the feeling of citizens that they are part of the nation. However, this aim is unlikely to be achieved if sensitive subjects like the June 4 event and other incidents involving mainland dissidents are not included in the syllabus.

If students are not able to examine all available sources and form their own opinions about these issues, then I am afraid that incorrect values will be taught to the next generation.

Also, it will be difficult to instil the traditional concept of the Chinese nation in the minds of young people, given that for the past 100 years Hong Kong has been heavily influenced by the West, because it was a British colony.

Contrast this with Japan, where the bushido code which represents traditional core values dating back more than 1,000 years survives today despite the many changes the country has witnessed.

Hong Kong people are far more receptive to democratic ideas than their mainland counterparts.

Students here will not welcome being spoon-fed facts in a national education course. Also, there is mistrust of the central government over various incidents, most recently, the death of Li Wangyang .

Students already study Chinese history and liberal studies and so a national education course is not necessary.

Oscar Yiu, Tuen Mun

Rewarded for a woeful track record

I agree with Gerard Crawford who said Edward Yau Tang-wah was an 'abject failure' when he was environment minister ('Dismissal of political opposition doesn't look like government 'for the people'', July 6).

It is therefore outrageous that given his failings he has become director of the Chief Executive's Office. His appointment represents one of the worst features of civil service culture - highly paid public servants going from one senior position to another regardless of their performance.

Under Yau's watch from 2007 to 2012, Hong Kong's environment has deteriorated.

His signal 'achievement' on air quality was a ban on idling engines that was hedged to the point of being unenforceable. Despite the millions spent publicising the ban, idling engines are still everywhere and I am not aware of anyone being prosecuted.

Yau also failed to deal with the long-standing problem of municipal waste disposal. Recycling remains the rudimentary collection of paper, plastic and metal in coloured bins, with no monitoring of waste contractors or public education on sorting of waste. No credible evidence has substantiated Yau's claim of a 52 per cent recycling rate.

Instead, he expended a huge effort and public money on pushing for construction of the world's largest and costliest incinerator that would have used outdated technology and despoiled a pristine island.

He took the path of least resistance via the usual mega-infrastructure approach rather than the harder route of a programme covering all of Hong Kong to reduce waste at source and nurture a viable recycling industry.

To add insult to injury, he took the most foreign trips among all senior officials, many of those trips ostensibly to learn about how other countries treat municipal waste.

His performance would not have been tolerated had he been employed in the private sector. In government, however, it gets him another highly paid job as gatekeeper to the chief executive.

Tom Yam, Lantau

Opportunity missed by C.Y. Leung

The suggestion of getting more liberals on the Executive Council may be wishful thinking as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is free to choose whom he likes as his closest advisers. The lack of diversity in the ministerial ranks, however, is a lost opportunity.

Aside from one prominent exception (Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor), there are no women in the ministerial ranks (there are four in Exco) and there are no representatives from the ethnic minorities who call Hong Kong their home.

Instead of only reaching out to understand what the people of Hong Kong want through town hall-type meetings, a laudable exercise, why not make the ministerial system inclusive of those whose views are desired?

A government that is more inclusive would be a better representation of the diversity that makes Hong Kong such a great city.

Ron Adrianse, Sai Kung

Protesters can learn from Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi continues to fight for democracy in Burma. She has persevered despite the fact that the military government would not recognise her election victory in 1990 and despite being held under house arrest for 15 years.

She refused to give up because she has always believed that it was her obligation to campaign for the right of the Burmese people to have a democratic and open government rather than a military dictatorship.

Nowadays, many youngsters easily give up in the face of difficulties.

I think they could learn a lot from her spirit of perseverance.

Although she has suffered political persecution, she has always advocated peaceful methods to achieve her goals.

She believes that only by adopting such a strategy can she earn the support and trust of her people.

In contrast, in Hong Kong, you see many angry demonstrators expressing their views in a very radical manner.

Not only does this kind of behaviour ruin social harmony, but it also leads to the deterioration of relationships.

We can learn from Suu Kyi, who is a fine role model and ensure that political issues are discussed in a peaceful and rational manner.

Ng Tsz-kwan, Sha Tin

Draftsmen keeping it simple

It was good to see you taking an interest in the language of the statute book in your editorial ('Simplicity the key to drafting laws', July 10).

However, it is wrong to say that the simplification and modernisation of the Hong Kong statute book only started this year.

It has been going on for a number of years, certainly since 2008 if not before. This is a tribute to the previous two law draftsmen (unfortunately gender-neutral language has not yet permeated to job titles in the Department of Justice) and to the hard-working and professional staff of the Law Drafting Division of the department.

If your readers are interested in seeing an example of the new simpler style of Hong Kong laws, they might wish to look at the Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance, introduced into Legco in 2010 and passed in 2011. It is drafted in a simple and direct style, perhaps the only thing lacking is examples of the exemptions in Schedule 1.

Paul O'Brien, Richmond, Victoria, Australia

Pedestrians forced onto busy road

For the last six months Hillwood Road, in Tsim Sha Tsui, near the 7-Eleven has been blocked for roadworks. However, no work is actually being done, but the blockage is creating problems for people.

Also, in the evening, the pavement is blocked by customers waiting to be given a table in the restaurants. This makes it difficult for pedestrians who are forced on to the road which is full of traffic. One evening earlier this month, I was almost run over by a car which was reversing.

The relevant government departments should look into the matters I have raised and deal with them.

Sonam Ramchandani, Tsim Sha Tsui

Flouting the ban near police station

We have had some interesting letters all testifying that the law banning smoking in bars is being ignored.

If any reader chooses to walk past Mong Kok police station and amble into any bar in Tung Choi Street late at night, the smokers will not just be customers but also bar staff and within coughing distance of a fairly big police station.

Derek Roberts, Mong Kok