PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 12:00am

Q What creates stress for you in your Hong Kong lifestyle?

Like many of my fellow Hong Kongers, the stress from which I suffer these days is caused by financial hardship, a lack of job security and pressure at work.

On top of this, each one of us does not only have to cope with our own problems. You see, I have come to realise that stress is contagious.

Not only am I stressed out by my own life, I am also influenced by the stress of those around me. Family members pass their stress on to one another in the home, and I even find my mood being affected by members of the public: the mother scolding her son on the MTR, the couple arguing over tedious matters on the bus, the hawkers haggling loudly with their customers and recently, the noise of my neighbour spanking her kid every night for his poor performance at school.

In a city as densely populated as Hong Kong, everything spreads fast - news, gossip, flu, and stress. The key to ending this vicious circle is to kill the negative energy that stress causes within each one of us, just like killing our own flu to prevent others catching it.

Yvonne Wong

Kowloon Tong

As a person in my mid-fifties, the major cause of stress for me is the worry about what will happen when I reach the mandatory retirement age of 60. I have a wonderful job as a teacher with the ESF, but I am worried about the fact that my daughter, whom I raise alone, will only be 11 when I have to retire.

I believe politicians should recognise that people can work at a high level for many years past 60. Indeed, it is ironic that the politicians who decide on the retirement age should themselves work past the age of 60.

It is my contention that the stress levels of many middle-aged people would drop if they could work until at least 65.

Christopher F. Stubbs Mid-Levels

Q Should people be allowed to bet online?

I read with some amusement the comment of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club: 'Imagine if a hot favourite lost a race. Punters would wonder why. It leads to all sorts of suspicion.'

Mr Wong, 'hot favourites' lose in Hong Kong all the time and it does lead to suspicion, especially when the organisation that takes the money also controls what happens on the track.

Everyone involved with racing is dependent on the HKJC for its patronage. Therefore, from a player's point of view, it is no great leap to assume that everyone from stable staff and jockeys to handicappers and veterinarians do as they are bid, whatever that may be, win or lose.

To avoid suspicion, betting needs to be separated from organisation. As well as this, competition would lead to better value for money, considering that the HKJC has one of the highest retain percentages in the world. Online betting offers an alternative and, as such, should be allowed in a free-market economy. Why shouldn't I be able to get better value than that offered by the jockey club?

If the HKJC is concerned about the amount of money going to the government then it should press for the licensing of bookmakers in Hong Kong, which would then offer the alternatives now available online, with the taxable revenue going to the government.

Of course, that would also mean a change of attitude from the HKJC, in that it would have to become a competitive, value-for-money, customer-focused business - which is the opposite of what it is now.

Perhaps in 'rip-off' Hong Kong it is easier to just cry foul.

John Williams


Q Do HK universities treat their students like children?

In my opinion, HK universities treat their students like children. My boyfriend, 24, is a 5th year medical student and lives in a residence hall at the University of Hong Kong.

The residence is for 4th and 5th year students only, which means no one there is under 22 years old. Yet the visitation policy states that every visitor has to sign in and out, and that no one may stay after 11.30pm.

Surely by the age of 22 a person is old enough to take care of themselves and to be responsible for his or her own behaviour? I studied in the US and was actually a residence assistant while I was there, so I know exactly how important it is for every student to follow the hall rules. I also believe that a student should receive an appropriate punishment if he or she violates those rules, but only if they are reasonable and appropriate to the students in question.

My university had certain residence halls especially reserved for senior students (21 years old or above), and there was no curfew or visitation hours imposed on them like students in the regular halls.

I believe that is a very reasonable approach, as the university actually respects their students' private lives and treats them like responsible adults.

Going to university is a great learning experience for everyone. But if the university does not provide learning opportunities - such as how to behave in a proper manner, how to be a responsible student and resident, how to respect each another's privacy - how can the students grow up and be mature and work out what kind of person they want to be?

And if forcing stupid rules on students does actually make them learn, how will they develop their own identities when they are always following rules formulated by someone else? Silly rules are like a poison to all students who want to fully experience university life.

All residence halls should have rules, but the university should update them more often and make changes to suit different groups of students.

I cannot believe the university residence hall policy here in Hong Kong - it sucks big time!

Polly Wu

Wan Chai