PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 2008, 12:00am

Children need old-fashioned discipline

G. Gaia ('Physical and verbal child abuse knows no social boundaries', March 11) argues that the old saying 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' does not work any more and that children who are beaten tend to be rebellious.

However, what we have seen in recent years is completely the opposite.

Ever since the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, there has been a rise in school violence.

Teachers can no longer tame violent and rebellious students. It is common for teachers to have to deal with emotionally violent students in Hong Kong's classrooms.

Students nowadays become over-spoiled and self-centred.

I have seen students behave recklessly in school without fear of their teachers or authorities. When they face punishment for their wrongdoings, they will distort the facts and even accuse the teacher of provoking them.

In some countries such as Singapore and South Korea, some forms of corporal punishment, caning for instance, are still legal.

Yet, there is no evidence to show that students in these countries turn rebellious and violent.

On the contrary, students are usually deemed obedient and respectful in these countries.

The old Chinese saying goes 'Under the rod come dutiful sons'.

It is high time we resorted to respecting our ancestors' wisdom and disciplined our children properly.

If we do not, I am sure that teachers will become the target of abuse in our classrooms.

Samson Yuen Hau-lung, Tin Shui Wai

Users should pay for bags

In response to Alex F. T. Chu's question as to why I defend the Environmental Protection Department's (EPD) calculation regarding the weekly consumption of plastic bags ('People are using plastic bags in a responsible manner', March 5), let me say first of all that I have no connection whatsoever with the EPD.

Rather, I am constantly disappointed by its inability to take any determined steps to help curb unnecessary consumption and to tackle pollution.

However, now that it is finally taking some hesitant steps to draft legislation - rather than rely on the ineffective voluntary path it has pursued to date - it is the duty of concerned citizens to support these initiatives so that the EPD and the administration cannot use the excuse of public indifference to legitimise a laissez-faire attitude.

In addition, it is my firm belief based on observing my colleagues in the office, neighbours and the number of bags one can see being taken in various stores and markets, that the EPD's figure is, if anything, conservative.

Once again, we are talking about all types of plastic bags, not just the carriers given out by the supermarkets.

The user-pay principle is the way to go and all this hogwash about people having no bags for their rubbish is laughable. Under the proposed legislation they can have all the bags they want; they just have to pay for them.

If they want to save money then they can improvise or reuse.

However, rather than a fixed charge of 50 cents, it would be more equitable to collect the actual cost of the bag as luxury chains give out bags that have a high unit price while those given out at wet markets are probably worth only 10 cents.

Could Mr Chu, through these columns, explain if he has any affiliations that would explain why he is so determined to undermine the user-pay principle with regard to plastic bags?

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan

Don't hide facts on air quality

On Sunday, March 9, I had planned to go for an early morning walk.

However, after looking at the sky I decided against it as the air looked dreadful. All I could see was a wall of dirty white, and no sea view.

I visited the website of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to check the air pollution index (API).

The relevant page started off with the API readings at the general stations and it showed a reading for Central/Western of 61. Were my eyes deceiving me?

I had to scroll down to find the true reading at the bottom of the page, which showed a reading of 100 for Central.

I consider this to be toxic, and decided that I would definitely not be going for a long walk that day.

The government is so dishonest in its handling of information with regard to the air quality.

People walk at the roadside level so please show us what the relevant API reading is at the top of the page instead of making us scroll down to find the true reading.

Joyce Wong, Pok Fu Lam

UK visa rules are race-based

The answer to Terry Scott's question, 'Is visa rule down to race?', regarding visas to the mainland (March 13), is both yes and no.

The 'home visit permit', which he has no right to obtain, is issued to those whose homes or whose ancestors' homes are in mainland China.

China being a multiracial nation, these include a considerable number of minorities from Central and South Asia who are not racially Chinese.

Racial prejudice is out of the question.

Expatriates' rights of entry and abode in Hong Kong are granted under the 'one-country, two systems' principle.

Britain is also a multiracial nation.

Since the British Nationality Act 1981, Britain began to classify British citizens into different categories.

All British 'citizens' holding non-UK British passports lost the right of abode and most of them need a visa to enter Britain.

Now, which visa rule is down to race, China's or Britain's?

Fiona Mak, Tseung Kwan O

So much for reciprocity

I would like to add a rider to the letter from Tom Smith ('No reciprocity for expats', March 11), on the subject of British subjects entering the mainland.

As Mr Smith says, the charges for visas are supposed to be based on 'reciprocity'.

According to Xinhua, a Chinese national entering Britain would pay 660 yuan (HK$725) for a visa.

China Travel Services in Hong Kong quotes HK$2,080 for a British subject (permanent Hong Kong resident) to obtain a multiple entry visa to the mainland.

So much for 'reciprocity'.

John Wilson, Yau Ma Tei

Ferry cutbacks hurt islanders

On the surface, one might think that a reduction of the number of ferry sailings to the outlying islands is a trivial matter.

However, there are a large number of people who will find the proposed cuts an inconvenience too far.

Many people will leave these islands to return to the big smoke. The attraction of island life will diminish.

The number of people moving to the islands will go down.

The economies of the outlying islands are fragile. Reduce the population and you will reduce the number of restaurants, shops and bars operating on the islands.

It is the classic vicious circle.

If we can build a bridge to Zhuhai , surely we can run a decent ferry service to the tourist attraction I call home.

Alastair Robins, Lamma