PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2005, 12:00am

Q Do you think Hongkongers have an unhealthy lifestyle?

On your City front page on September 16, it was suggested that a BMI (body mass index) of over 25 meant that a person could be classified as obese. Moreover, it was also reported, somewhat counter-intuitively in my view, that some 20 per cent of Hong Kong's population could be considered obese.

For those of your readers, some of whom may be marathon runners like myself, who were surprised to learn last Friday that they were verging on the margins of obesity, I am pleased to draw attention to an alternative definition of obesity, as authoritatively reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation's website ( Here we are told that a BMI of between 25 and 30 merely suggests that one is slightly overweight, whereas a BMI of over 30 is required before one might be regarded by the medical profession as being obese.

Mark Savelli, Central

Q Is the ESF pay scale proposal fair and necessary?

An anonymous correspondent in Talkback asserts that parents should pay for their children's education. I doubt that even the HK government would agree with him on that.

As in most developed areas of the world, education here is compulsory and free for nine years. This is in accordance with children's basic human rights. Free, that is, unless parents choose to pay more for private education, and few here would argue with that right to choose. And free unless your child speaks only English. Then education in HK becomes only compulsory, and certainly not free.

Government schools will not admit non-Cantonese-speaking children, even if their parents are HK citizens and taxpayers. This is in stark contrast to all English-speaking countries, where schools accept children of all linguistic backgrounds and integrate them into the school and wider community by teaching them the lingua franca.

Unfortunately, I am not one of the many ESF parents that 'name & address supplied' knows who has a high-paying job. I am the sole income earner of our family, and my one child's school fees take one-quarter of my monthly salary. This is hardly my idea of 'affordable education', despite the efforts of ESF and the HK press to hammer that phrase into my subconscious.

ESF teachers are doing a fine job in providing quality education and I have no objection to their being well compensated for it - although I would like to have the right to choose between state education versus fee-paying options.

It also seems unfair that the current cohort of teachers has to bear the brunt of poor management over the years while those who have now left the system are home and dry.

And I would question the term 'proposal' in the Talkback question. A proposal suggests that the proposer waits for a yes/no response from the 'propose' and may then enter into negotiations if the initial response is disappointing. The ESF 'proposal' smacks much more of a fait accompli to me.

Christine Shirley, Tai Wai

All I can say is that I'm glad Janette Gosse, a senior ESF teacher, doesn't teach mathematics. Her salary, housing allowance and gratuity amount to around $920,000 per year, yet she claims that 'the majority of us are not earning anywhere near' the average salary of $947,400.

Neil James, Central

On other matters...

I'm glad to read that almost 180 verbal warnings over wax-burning were issued during the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sunday. I wish the police had been as diligent in looking out for underage drinkers at the Repulse Bay Beach.

Last Sunday, several police officers were in plain sight on the beach and, at one point, a few were in the car park opposite the 7-Eleven store on Beach Road, where dozens of teenagers were buying alcoholic drinks.

I found it quite disturbing that there was no visible attempt to check the ID of teenage drinkers, many of whom were obviously under 18. I also know that it is not only at festival and peak periods that stores do not uphold the law, which I would have thought was a condition of their liquor licence. It is common knowledge that on any given Friday and Saturday evening, groups of teenagers hang out at the Repulse Bay and Stanley beaches to consume alcohol bought from convenience stores.

I understand their commercial interest in wanting to sell as much as possible. But the stores also have a responsibility to the community and should be held accountable if they violate the conditions of their licences.

Of course the parents of underage drinkers, and the drinking teenagers themselves, have to bear some responsibility. But in a public area, such as on the beaches, law enforcement officers should enforce the law to ensure the safety of the community, as well as the safety of individual minors.

Name and address supplied

I am a resident and concerned parent in Sham Tseng. A couple of years ago, it was sparsely inhabited - by Hong Kong standards anyway - and a village famous for its roasted geese. Now, with new buildings and estates, the population has tripled if not quadrupled, shops have cropped up along with a promised mall and school.

What is missing though is a children's park and playground!

I was wondering if there is any way we as citizens and residents can bring our plight to the notice of appropriate officials.

Name and address supplied