Surplus should be used to fund small-class secondary education

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2008, 12:00am

Our financial gurus are predicting fat budget surpluses this year and the vultures are circling to pick the carcass clean.

The usual suspects are the powerful syndicates who will lobby for tax reductions, liquor importers begging for better treatment, and, of course, the tobacco industry pleading for lower tariffs on imported tobacco, because, they argue, the duty hits poor people who need tobacco to relax.

If Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah falls for these specious arguments, he will be doing a severe disservice to the ordinary taxpayers of Hong Kong.

Corporations and syndicates are rolling in wealth and do not deserve special tax benefits.

The liquor lobby is backed up by wealthy drinkers who can easily afford their tippling.

Their tax revenues help pay the medical expenses of victims of drunk driving.

Tobacco lobbyists should be thrown out the door because of the enormous harm their carcinogenic products have done to poor people.

If Mr Tsang really wants to use the surplus wisely, he should require the Education Bureau to speedily implement small class sizes in our secondary schools which still have 40 pupils per class.

Educators should be ashamed to continue such an inefficient and outdated system in the 21st century.

Our young people deserve a better learning environment and our teachers must be given the space, time and resources to help students adapt to the career expectations of this century.

The Education Bureau has saved hundreds of millions by closing primary schools, greatly damaging educators' morale.

It must now be given the money it needs to reduce secondary class sizes before the fall in student population wreaks the same havoc on secondary schools.

The allocation of budget surpluses manifests a society's values. I hope the financial secretary will show more concern for the improvement of secondary education and for the dignity of the teaching profession.

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po