PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am

What is the best way to support our elite athletes?

Our elite athletes at university do face a dilemma ('Universities vow to ease athletes' woes', April 22). It saddens me when I learn of outstanding athletes being forced to relinquish their dream.

It is a terrible waste if, say, a medical student has to stop training in badminton because they have to focus on their exams.

After all, Hong Kong is internationally famous for its well-rounded human resources. We are proud of professionals such as musicians and engineers who are willing to come here and fulfil their potential. It would be a shame if our elite athletes were forced to scale down their sporting ambitions because of limited resources or a clash with academic timetables.

I think the government and academic institutes should work together to solve this problem. The government can provide money and other opportunities for elite athletes.

It should try to encourage more exchange training programmes so the athletes can consolidate their skills. This would give them an invaluable chance to widen their perspectives, not just in sport, but in their lives in general. During the exchange programme they will be able to meet more renowned overseas athletes and widen their social network.

A scholarship system would be the best way to run this system and it would encourage the athletes to train hard and study hard.

The universities should establish an intensive student-mentorship scheme that will help elite athletes maintain their academic standards. Sometimes athletes have to skip lectures just because, for example, they need to do advanced and intensive training. It is unfair that their grades should be adversely affected just because of what they are trying to achieve as athletes.

Universities should offer extra tutorial classes and find a way to be flexible when it comes to exams, so the young athlete can strike the right balance between studies and sport.

I can appreciate how tough it is for elite athletes to deal with their academic and sporting schedules. They are not superhuman and they need to be given some help with time management, so they are able to fulfil their potential in college and in their chosen sport.

Lydia Kwong Lee-ting, Tuen Mun

The government should set up a special office to provide wide-ranging support for our elite athletes.

These young Hong Kong athletes are encountering a lot of difficulties when it comes to their future development. Many want to develop their sporting skills but they are also studying at university.

In Hong Kong there seems to be a perception that sport cannot ensure a decent standard of living and you should focus instead on your studies. This is an important consideration. Our older, established athletes also have to think about how they will live after they retire.

The office I have suggested the government sets up would facilitate different athletes' needs.

For instance, with the young athletes, it could negotiate with the university authorities so the athletes could continue their studies and still focus on sport.

Chau Kin-lung, Shau Kei WanShould the MTR install public toilets?

Installing public toilets at MTR stations can only enhance the image of the MTR as a convenient mode of transport.

The KCR Corporation used to maintain public toilets at all its stations. Since the MTR took over operation of the KCR network, the toilets are still there and are welcomed by commuters.

I do not see why as new MTR stations are built they cannot have toilets. The quality of service provided by the MTR will definitely improve in the eyes of the public if the corporation installs toilets.

Nancy Lai, Sheung Wan

Should the tax on tobacco be increased?

I, along with 70 per cent of the population of Hong Kong, am a non-smoker and I support a higher tobacco tax.

Given the threat to health posed by tobacco, anything that can lead to fewer people smoking is an improvement.

I think a higher tobacco tax could achieve this aim. Young smokers, with only a limited amount of pocket money, would probably smoke less and some might even decide to kick the habit.

Tobacco can also exacerbate the environmental problems in Hong Kong, with so many people smoking outside.

The benefits of increasing the tax on tobacco outweigh the disadvantages and the tax should be increased as soon as possible as all Hongkongers will benefit.

Tiffany Ho Sin-yu, Lam Tin

On other matters...

I have noticed changes to some films I watch on Cable TV's MGM channel.

Parts of films are blurred, presumably because station controllers consider they are too gory for viewers or may be sexual in nature or distasteful in some other way. I have seldom seen such alterations on other Cable TV movie channels.

To give an example, I recently watched the film The Madness of King George on the MGM channel.

There was a scene where George III, while in the throes of mental illness, soiled himself. This scene was blurred out. The whole point was to show the contrast between a man who ruled as a powerful king who had descended from all the pomp and circumstance connected to royalty to a state of humiliation. Here was a monarch who controlled a kingdom and now he could no longer control his own bodily functions.

It was also meant to illustrate how inhumanely he was treated while he was ill. This scene was an integral part of the film and the blurring was unnecessary.

This is not a children's movie. It is targeted at mature audiences. I do not believe that Hong Kong viewers are so sensitive that they would shy away from this kind of realism and from a scene that was an important part of the film.

This is just one of many examples where uncalled-for censorship has done an injustice to an artistic creation.

I urge Cable TV's censors to try to keep abreast of the changing values of our society and not arbitrarily cut or blur scenes according to what appears to be personal standards.

A. Wong, Mid-Levels