PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should parents be required to finance new school campuses?

Our son has been studying at the International Christian School in question for the past four years. His admission was unconditional.

The previous headmaster and team worked very hard and the government granted land to build a new school building. As your paper reported (October 7), the construction cost is estimated at $260 million.

I want to confirm that the school has excellent, dedicated, sincere and loving teachers. It follows the American school syllabus. The children are happy. They are encouraged to think independently and grow into good Christian young men and women. And yet why is its available cash only $8 million?

I feel it is partly because of the failure of the current headmaster to win the hearts and minds of the majority of parents, his lack of proper communication skills, lack of willingness to seek consultation with parents, and his abruptness.

My wife and I attended a prayer meeting after the news that land was granted by the government. Everybody was happy.

But when one of the principal's assistants briefed us about their fund-raising activities, her tone was patronising and inappropriate.

Later on, all parents were asked to come up with ideas for fund-raising. We had a couple of ideas; we went to the principal of the elementary school at that time. He felt that they were good ideas, which could have raised up to $500,000 in the next four years.

I then received a phone call from the principal. He said: 'It does not fit with the policy of the school.' Yet he did not explain why. The conversation was very brief, cold and totally non-inspiring.

Then we received notification to attend a debenture briefing meeting, stating that attendance was mandatory. That made me angry. However, we felt duty-bound to attend. I was very angry because I felt that the admission of our son did not stipulate that we will be cornered to pay because the principal and his assistants have succeeded in driving away those who wanted to help.

Fortunately, every coin has two sides. In that meeting, Jack Yeung made a presentation. He spoke well. He was humble. He inspired confidence as a man who is also president of the YMCA.

It became clear that the school has options. To follow standard construction would cost $182 million. But if the school wants to have a chapel, a swimming pool, two sports rooms, an auditorium and air conditioning, then there will be additional costs. When Mr Yeung finished, most parents were supportive.

Now I want to urge all parents of ICS students to look at it positively. God has inspired the stewards of our government into granting the school land. Let us assure the Hong Kong community that the ICS new building will be contributing in more than one way to the benefit of the community.

Samuel Kent, Tuen Mun

Q What should be done to improve the psychological health of students?

Some 76 per cent of Hong Kong students, according to a survey by the Whole Person Foundation, suffer from psychological problems of different degrees. It is quite a shockingly high percentage that warrants the foundation to reveal more details of its survey.

I would like to know the questions asked, to see if they were relevant to the participants.

The March-to-September survey took place only in 19 schools and it seemed to be rather a small sample since Hong Kong has quite a variety of schools that vary greatly in educational standing, teaching methods, social and cultural backgrounds.

At those 19 schools, 4,500 students were questioned, which averaged at 236 students per school. That also accounted for about 40 students per grade across the whole school, which coincided with the number of students per class. Such a sample is further unrepresentative if those 40 students were all from the same class.

John Yuan, Dalian, China

Q How can recycling of newspapers be improved?

I am writing in response to an MTR spokeswoman who replied to this same question on September 26. The writer stated that the MTR Corporation has an arrangement to recycle newspapers discarded by passengers. I have indeed seen more recycling bins being installed on the MTR. I also find passengers put newspapers into these bins. But I also frequently see many passengers who place waste papers in regular rubbish bins, even when recycling bins are nearby. Clearly, Hongkongers should be encouraged to be more conscious of recycling efforts.

Samson Wong, North Point

Q Is it fair to crack down on laundry in public places?

I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would object to the sight of laundry hung out to dry in a public place. After all, the people that do this are forced by circumstances to do so. If the government really wants to target anti-social behaviour in our streets, it could begin by banning idling engines and make a start to giving us cleaner air to breathe.

John Robert Henderson, Sai Kung

I support the government's proposal for cracking down on laundry in public places. Actually, it is not only fair, but also essential to do so.

Public places are built for Hong Kong citizens, using taxpayers' money. Undoubtedly, it is unfair to use those areas for a wrong purpose - hanging one's clothes.

Someone may argue it is the custom and a long tradition, allowing public housing tenants to use public places for their laundry. Should we always follow what our past generations did? Obviously, we should not.

Nowadays, public housing comes equipped with clothes dryers. It is irresponsible to use public property for our own purposes. The government's act of swooping on clothes draped over hedges and dumping them in bins is an effective punishment for those who abuse public places.

There is also an immediate need for it. Countries around the globe are afraid that the bird-flu pandemic will emerge in the near future.

Hanging clothes in open areas will certainly increase the chance of being infected and at the same time promote the spread of the bird flu. Prevention is better than cure. It is urgent for the government to deal with the problem now.

Let us save ourselves by joining hands with the government to combat the bird-flu virus.

Ivan Lam, Pokfulam

On other matters...

I agree completely with Stephen Lee, a volunteer worker with prison inmates, and the principle of 'restoration - not revenge'. It makes so much more sense. People do not usually break the law just for fun or innate badness. They do it because they are thrown off their normal tracks.

The aim of laws, law enforcement and justice should be to restore those tracks - not to throw a person off them forever.

Some countries disagree with this and have established 'victims' charters' - i.e., advocates of revenge in sentencing and further torture, such as rape and beatings in prison, plus a lack of any hope for parole - which encourage and legalise what would otherwise be considered barbaric.

I agree with restoration - not revenge. But I do not agree that 'you MUST confess!' There are innocent people, too.

J. Boost, Sai Kung