PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am

Q What do you think of the lifeguards' decision to strike again?

Why is it considered unreasonable for people to strike for their rights? I strongly believe the government's policy of outsourcing lifeguards is not correct.

The aim of the policy is to cut expenditure so a financial surplus is maintained. But has the government considered the situation of its staff, who are also citizens? How can the government be so hard-hearted? They try to use the minimum cost to get the maximum profit regardless of the welfare of staff. How can employees work for their companies with the best of their ability and follow the motto: 'Serve for devotion and strive for perfection'?

What would you do if one of these lifeguards were one of your employees? If the government takes the first step of the outsourcing policy, the firms and business companies will follow and cut their own expenditure. The victims will be the citizens and finally the whole city, as it will never move forward and only remain stagnant.

Chan Ho-yi, Choi Hung

Those striking lifeguards claim they have the right to negotiate with the government because they claim the new policy may endanger swimmers' lives. If they really want to assure people, they should stop striking and leaving swimmers without lifeguards. Their actions may change the government's mind, but it is more likely to endanger others' lives at pools or on the beach. I believe they should stop striking and work out a better solution to a complex issue.

Edwin Man Wai-chun, Shun Chi Court

It is obvious that outsourcing has become a 'trend' sweeping across all government departments. It is already in operation for cleaning services of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

Who guarantees that the existing positions of lifeguards will not be affected in the future?

More worrying is that the quality of life-saving service will deteriorate after outsourcing. Of course, the new contractors will still employ qualified lifeguards with a lifesaving licence. However, we have a dedicated channel we can use to comment on or complain about the service of the LCSD. In the case of services offered by third parties, will we be able to effectively monitor them? Will the quality of the lifesaving service after outsourcing be guaranteed?

The lifeguards have tried to minimise the effect to the public by striking on a Friday afternoon rather than a Sunday or a public holiday. I believe their actions are reasonable and acceptable.

Fok Chun-kit, Mongkok

It is so disappointing that the lifeguards have decided to repeatedly stage these strikes because they are endangering the public's safety at beaches and pools.

Have they ever considered the fact that an accident may happen because of their strike? I understand their anger, but I think they are being irresponsible. They blame the government's outsourcing policy continuously and claim their lifeguards are not well trained. Can they prove it? This summer, there were two children who died in public pools. It is not convincing enough to tell others that Hong Kong's public lifeguards are more professional. If you want to keep your job, do your best because being competitive only leads to improvement.

Fu Novia-ma, Kowloon

Q Is the Diesel billboard in Wan Chai sexist?

Frankly I find the advert more vulgar than indecent. There have been many other objectionable billboards showing semi-naked young women and leering men which obviously reflect today's western mores. They're supposed to be 'cool', but really they are just vulgar and lascivious.

Hong Kong seems a tolerant society when it comes to these things. Just think, if we were in the Middle East, the imams would be up in arms. So perhaps we should be grateful there aren't any such moral police around to spoil the fun.

Marylin E. I. Tan, Tin Hau

Q Are improved exam results related to the mother-tongue policy?

I want to express my thanks for the support of the mother-tongue teaching policy.

My English standard was quite poor when I was a primary student so I entered a Chinese-medium school. I find that using Chinese to learn is more efficient because it helps me to understand what the teachers are saying in lessons. This means I can actually allocate much more time to learning English. I am much more confident using English with my friends and teachers now.

For those who are averse to mother-tongue teaching policy and worry about the lack of opportunities to improve their English, I understand their concerns. However, a student's English fluency depends on their efforts. The opportunity to learn English is everywhere, from reading the newspaper to listening to the radio. But we still blame the mother-tongue teaching policy for the failings of students.

Not only do I read newspaper and listen to radio, but I discuss current issues with my English teacher to practise my skills.

We should not use the student's public examination results as the sole yardstick to assess the success of the policy. If we continue neglecting the importance of enhancing the motivation of students to learn English, the English proficiency of students will continue falling, even if we abolish the mother-tongue policy and adopt the previous language policy.

Eric Ng Hok-tung, Tsing Yi