PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2007, 12:00am

Academic will be sorely missed in Hong Kong

I was saddened by the news that Professor Paul Morris will not be allowed to continue to teach at the Hong Kong Institute of Education ('Paul Morris is shown the door at HKIEd,' June 26).

Despite the recent verdict that obviously favours professors Morris and Luk Hung-kay, in the HKIEd inquiry, the institute's ruling council decided by a majority that Professor Morris could not stay at the HKIEd when his contract expires.

This reminds me of the closure of the Precious Blood Golden Jubilee School in 1978.

As a young teacher then, I was one of many supporters of the school's whistle-blowers, the teachers and their students, who had alleged mismanagement at the school. We were disappointed when after a series of sit-ins and protests, the education department decided to close the school. It is rather unfortunate to find in 2007 that a spectre of authoritarianism still haunts the education community in Hong Kong and appears to threaten outspoken teachers.

I feel that the actions against Professor Morris, a long-time educationalist in Hong Kong, are not in keeping with the increasingly democratic atmosphere, transparency and accountability in the Hong Kong SAR.

In 1997 Professor Morris talked of a gap between the intended and implemented curriculum. He said the latter reflected social and community expectations, while the former reflected the 'state's desire to be seen to be promoting worthwhile visions of schooling for all'. I think this explains some failures with education reforms in the first 10 years of the Special Administrative Region.

It would be regrettable if, following the HKIEd inquiry, Professor Morris is not going to teach in Hong Kong again.

We will miss Professor Morris. He is an educationalist with ideals and visions.

The reputation of our tertiary education will be tarnished if our academic freedom is in doubt.

C. Y. Tsui, Tuen Mun

Mothers' June 4 claims ring true

Peter Luk plays with words in more ways than one ('No evidence of June 4 massacre,' June 20).

He writes about the 'Tiananmen tragedy', 'Tiananmen students' and 'the so-called massacre'. Like Ma Lik and other apologists for the Beijing authorities' crackdown, he minimises not just the ferocity of the crackdown but also the extent of the national unrest in 1989.

By concentrating on the words 'Tiananmen' and 'students', Beijing's spinners are rewriting history.

Beijing was not the only city to experience a wave of protests in the summer of 1989. The capital's university students were not the only students to call for reforms. The voices of workers, intellectuals and many others joined those of the students protesting against official corruption and mismanagement.

I am told that the Chinese-language terminology for the events of 1989 makes it clear that the protest movement arose in many cities and social groups throughout the country. In some cities, the protesters were reportedly mollified and dispersed peacefully, as in Shanghai.

As far as the media has been able or allowed to report the events of the hot summer of 1989, it seems that only Beijing failed to handle its protest movement peacefully.

Mr Luk and his fellow spinners should not be allowed to blow verbal smokescreens in our faces. Hundreds of grieving mothers, reportedly all willing to be identified, are surely enough witnesses for the assertion that there really was a bloody crackdown in Beijing.

Even Mr Luk acknowledges that there was a 'tragedy' in 1989 and that there had been a 'nationwide breakdown of public order'.

Even he should be asking what had gone wrong in China prior to that, and if the PRC government learned all the appropriate lessons.

Barry Girling, Tung Chung

Why not move to Kowloon ?

Tears of sympathy rolled down my face as I read of the hardships that K. Singh has to face raising a family on a civil servant's salary in a ' shoebox' apartment ('Maids get really good deal with wages in HK,' June 27).

That sympathy ceased when I saw your correspondent lives in Mid-Levels, one of the most expensive areas in Hong Kong.

Perhaps if K. Singh had looked elsewhere like Kowloon or the New Territories he would have found a larger apartment.

I also found rather offensive his comment 'maids get Sundays and public holidays with no thoughts to working parents who also need a rest'. Is Mr Singh advocating that maids work seven days a week with no rest periods?

I think Mr Singh you will find that slavery was actually abolished some time ago.

C. Low, Causeway Bay

Even tougher laws needed

Following the introduction of the anti-smoking law on January 1, smoking was banned in most workplaces and public places.

Six months on and it is good to see that most restaurants and offices are smoke-free.

People are now free from second-hand smoke and officials should be praised for effective enforcement action.

However, I have been disappointed to see an increasing number of people smoking in streets or open areas, further deteriorating the alarming air quality in Hong Kong.

I hope stricter laws can be introduced or more health education programmes will be launched offering smoking cessation services.

Iris Wong Hau-chi, Tsuen Wan

Cut their salaries

I urge people to oppose civil servants' salary increases.

Civil servants' salary and retirement packages and their benefits, are 30 to 40 per cent over the market rate.

The government must explain to us what kind of research it did on salary components and comparisons with market rates, to come to the conclusion that a rise was justified.

Many employees of commercial firms do not get a salary increase for more than five years, and many businesses may have to close down due to the tough business environment in Hong Kong.

These civil servants do not have to face the tough and competitive business world. Their jobs are much easier.

Civil servants exist in a protected greenhouse environment.

They must show what they have achieved, before they are granted a pay rise.

In fact, I would say a cut in salary would be more appropriate.

J. Yuen, Tai Kok Tsui

Toads must die

Cane toads are poisonous, Michele Kalish ('Mistreatment of toads is wrong,' June 20).

A quick Google search would have revealed to you that cane toads are considered a pest in Australia because they poison pets and injure humans with their toxins.

They also poison many native animals whose diet includes frogs, tadpoles and frogs' eggs.

They eat large numbers of honey bees, creating a management problem for bee keepers, prey on native fauna, compete for food with vertebrate insectivores and may carry diseases that can be transmitted to native frogs and fish. They are not suitable as pets for children.

Much as I, in general, abhor cruelty to animals, the only good cane toad is a dead cane toad.

Julie Moffat, Ma On Shan



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