PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2012, 12:00am


Putonghua is a vital language for us

Putonghua, also known as Mandarin, is the mainland's official language. In Hong Kong, it is the third language all students have to learn as a core subject.

More than a billion people speak the language, mostly on the mainland and in Taiwan as well. That means knowing Putonghua can help you to communicate with many people.

As Hong Kong is part of China, we should all speak Putonghua. It's a vital language for us.

Speaking the language can also boost our job prospects.

The mainland's economy is booming and is one of the strongest in the world.

Considering China's international standing, speaking Putonghua may well be as important as speaking English. Besides, we should treasure Putonghua because it's part of our cultural heritage.

Felix Wu

Subdivided flats are truly awful

The problem of subdivided flats in Hong Kong continues. These flats are cramped and dirty. Living in one is like living in a refugee camp. Hence, it is not right for poor people to suffer this way.

There is also the issue of safety in subdivided flats. Such buildings are prone to collapse or catch fire.

The government is planning to crack down on illegal subdivided flats, but that means some residents will become homeless.

I think the government should find them new homes in public housing. Such families are mainly new immigrants or very poor. They cannot afford to pay the high rents in private housing estates.

The children of people living in subdivided flats are also suffering. There's not enough space for them to study, while the lighting is poor. Their health could also suffer, and their prospects are bleak.

The government needs to find adequate accommodation for such people so they can have a better life.

Hong Kong, too, will benefit. If given new housing, these residents will be happier and more productive. They will have more motivation to work or study harder.

However, these residents should not jump the queue to be rehoused first. There are nearly 140,000 people on the waiting list for public rental flats. All of them face difficulties. The government should adopt a first-come, first-served approach, which is fairer.

Let's hope the problem will be solved soon.

Ingrid Lo

Children should respect parents

Many children are rude to their parents. On the streets, you can see children shouting at their parents or arguing with them.

But parents do not discipline or punish their children.

I think children behave like this because their parents spoil them.

It is important that children are taught good manners from an early age.

Lo Man-man, Our Lady of the Rosary College

The pros and cons of cloning

Cloning is a hot new scientific field of research. Cloning means taking the DNA of a living organism to create identical new cells or organisms.

The technology can help save lives through organs grown in labs for transplants.

On the downside, cloning isn't without moral dilemmas.

Some people argue that humans should not risk tinkering with Nature. I agree.

Sze Man-man, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School

The sad charm of skin-deep beauty

Most women want to become or stay slim. Many advertisements project the image that slim is beautiful.

Many women, especially teens and young girls, are influenced by such ads and seek to copy models with the perfect body shape.

Yet many of the pictures in ads have been digitally enhanced.

To achieve similar results in real life, many people take desperate measures. Their strict dieting can lead to eating disorders like anorexia. There are news reports of children as young as nine suffering from eating disorders as they try to stay slim. That's awful.

We should project a healthier and more realistic image in ads. People should be encouraged to stick to a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

We should cherish good health and inner beauty much more.

Lui Sheung-yin, King Ling College