Must consider cost factor

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 1996, 12:00am

I refer to the letter headlined, 'Proficiency in mainland language essential', by Raymond Hung (South China Morning Post, August 10).

When we think about the benefits of one thing, we need to think about the costs of making it possible too.

No doubt the mainland language is 'of vital importance' to those who need to trade with and trade in China. And it is not my point to deny its importance in the run-up to 1997.

However, when we are thinking about the benefits to be brought by putting more resources to the teaching of the language, or by producing more TV programmes in Putonghua, we should also bear in mind that society has to use valuable resources to do these things.

Public choice is not a simple 'more is better' equation. Ignoring the costs of providing such programmes is no less evil than doing nothing.

The risk I can see here is that most, if not all, law makers do not have this cost vs compliance concept in mind when talking in public.

MICHAEL HO Kennedy Town