PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 December, 2002, 12:00am

Just which syllable of 'incentive' does 'Name and Address Supplied' ('Scrap totally unfair housing allowance', South China Morning Post, November 6, 'Top-class' NETs' poor track record', Post, November 27) not understand?

Native English-speaking teachers (NETs), like me, living overseas need to be attracted to Hong Kong, and, apart from the salary, the housing allowance is one very good way to entice them to come here. Would your correspondent also propose the axing of financial incentives for corporate executives, or attractive packages for experienced people with whatever qualifications and skills are in strong demand in the SAR? Try telling an overseas corporate executive that their benefits will be reduced in Hong Kong simply because their wife has a job as well.

The fact is that local NETs (who do not qualify for the housing allowance) are already SAR residents and are making no sacrifice (in terms of international relocation) in taking up their NET duties here.

As to whether the package offered to overseas NETs has attracted the very best NETs from across the globe, that is a question I cannot answer. In the end it is the responsibility of the Education Department to select those teachers it finds qualified and suitable enough to work here. One thing is for sure, good teachers will find little reason to uproot themselves from already well-established careers in their native countries unless that dislocation is worth it financially, hence the package offered to overseas NETs. If Hong Kong's proficiency in English lags behind that of other Asian countries, perhaps it is the local NETs who are the flies in the ointment. Of course, I personally do not believe this, but it is an extension of 'Name and Address Supplied's' own logic.

Your correspondent should get over this feeling of envy - the world has bigger problems to sort out.


Lam Tin