Shocked by discrimination
A few days ago, Cable TV news reported that a 10-year-old primary schoolboy who was interviewed for a place at a top local secondary school was asked: 'Why are you so short?'
He proudly told the reporter that his answer was: 'I am short because of my family genes, but I am smart.'
A small group of parents also appeared in the news story. One of the parents remarked that it was a tricky question which even she would have had difficulty answering.
Another parent, agreeing that it was a difficult question, said if his son were interviewed, the school would probably ask him why he was fat.
Rather than take issue with the propriety of a discriminatory, insensitive and inappropriate question which has no relevance to one's ability or suitability for a top school, the parents uncritically conceded that it was a challenging question.
The report ended with students being asked why it is important to go to a top school. Their answers included: 'It will glorify our ancestors'; 'So as not to disappoint our parents'; and 'It's cool'.
I am appalled by the original question about the child's height, shocked by the parents' uncritical acceptance of it, and saddened by the pupils' shallow concept of the value of education. Is this what local education is about?
A. LEUNG, Sha Tin
Respect for life
On the mainland, it does not matter how many safety measures are carried out or how frequently the government inspects facilities, if employers and employees do not respect life, the death toll from industrial accidents will rise.
In the mainland, society has become very capitalistic and profits outweigh the importance of life. This idea is shared by greedy industrialists and poverty-stricken workers who desperately need money. To reduce industrial accidents and worker misery, mainland authorities should do everything possible to raise the living standards of the poor by providing more job opportunities, so that these workers no longer need to risk their lives for a meagre income.
MICHAEL LEUNG, Sham Shui Po
Banks, take note
With talk of Hong Kong changing to plastic bank notes, it would seem a good time to issue only one design on each note rather than the three we have.
With three generations of notes in circulation, issued from three separate banks, there are at least nine different designs for each note. This confuses visitors and is messy.
Each note should have one design. The banks could differentiate their currency by putting a serial number on the notes.
A. HASSANI, Tung Chung
Ford showed courage
I would like to share my thoughts on the late US president Gerald Ford.
Compared with Richard Nixon's perpetual campaign for rehabilitation and Ronald Reagan's superb oratorical skill, Ford seemed to be an underdog. Juxtaposed with Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, both Democrats, working fiercely to burnish their legacy, the 38th US president appeared to be laid back. Very much akin to former president George Bush, Ford was a devoted family man who indulged in skiing and golf.
Ford was a former Michigan University football quarterback, and the only American president elected without mandate.
He was perceived to be lacking in ambition, yet his demeanour won him admiration from his countrymen and people around the world.
Pardoning Nixon was incredibly controversial. But history has shown that it was the correct decision. His courage has been recognised by Senator Edward Kennedy, the liberal lion, who said '[Ford's] courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the process of healing and put the tragedy of Watergate behind us'.
I was very impressed by Ford's candour, honesty and decency in restoring the American presidency for good.
PAUL LI, Tsing Yi
Ugly building contest
David Tang's letter about ugly buildings ('There's no use in starving oneself over a frumpish clock', December 23) reverberates with ordinary Hong Kong citizens.
We cannot avoid the buildings we have to live with in such close proximity. We are confronted with them every day. We cannot look away. We should, in the spirit of raising architectural standards, heritage awareness and civic vision for our beloved city, have an 'ugly building' contest. Immediate nominations would be the Landmark, Exchange Square, the Four Seasons, Prince's Building and the Mandarin hotel, with a special mention for the IFC Tower. What a horror.
We should also suggest 'inspiring buildings' like the HSBC building, and 'crimes against our heritage' such as the destruction of the Marine Police Building in Tsim Sha Tsui.
MICHAEL McCAFFREY, North Point
Quiz team needs Tang
David Tang's column every other Saturday has revealed him to be an intellectual giant and quite a culture vulture - Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal rolled into one.
To this end, I wondered if he would be up for joining my pub quiz team.
My fellow team members and I are verging on the one-dimensional, specialising in football, 1970s glam-rock music and not much else. Thus very rarely do we not look silly or dim - David would certainly add a huge amount of depth.
The quizzes are held on the last Thursday every month at the China Bear pub in Mui Wo, Lantau.
JASON ALI, Sheung Wan