New language policy must not alienate schools
After 10 years of relentlessly pushing the mother-tongue teaching policy, the Education Bureau has fuelled the controversy surrounding this strategy by tentatively suggesting some changes.
Under the new plan, a secondary school will be allowed to adopt a flexible approach and choose its medium of instruction in some classes if it has successfully recruited [a certain percentage of] superior students for its Form One classes [in the top 40 per cent of their age group]. It is hoped that the labelling [stigma] students of mother-tongue schools suffer from would be reduced.
I think officials have been surprised by the response to this proposal, from some quarters. Opponents have included school administrators from both English- and Chinese-medium schools.
In the English schools, some principals fear their institutions will be adversely affected.
Heads of Chinese-language schools feel the status of their institutions will diminish and they will be marginalised.
I can understand the dilemma felt by these school heads.
I am not opposed to this fine-tuning proposal.
I welcome the Education Bureau's desire to increase the opportunity for more students to have greater exposure to learning in English. However, while I still have faith in Hong Kong's education system, I also feel that over the past decade some policies have been adopted that have caused confusion.
I think it is important that officials are able to foresee the possible pitfalls when they introduce policies.
A rigid policy should not be adopted with regard to schools seeking to be considered for this new, flexible medium-of-instruction arrangement.
For those Hong Kong A-level students who do not do well enough in their public exams, other options must be found to enable them to get a university place.
I also think the bureau should adapt its rules so that schools could start this new flexible medium-of-instruction approach in Form Two or Form Three, if certain criteria are met.
In addition, the officials should not solely rely on past data to set the rules.
Thomas Yeung, Mong Kok
Tsang's delay is inexcusable
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has announced that the consultation process on constitutional reforms for 2012 will be delayed until the fourth quarter of this year ('Tsang delays consultation on poll reform', January 16).
He has said that this was a difficult decision to take.
However, having regard to the current economic situation, in order not to place an additional burden on the general public to have to discuss the reform proposals, he feels it will be best to put off his earlier promise of consultation.
I find this rationale totally ridiculous and illogical.
We can all vividly remember 2003 and how difficult a year it turned out to be, with the economic downturn and fears over Sars.
That same year Hongkongers discussed the proposed legislation regarding Article 23 of the Basic Law. I wonder if readers can recall the response.
The year 2009 may be a tough year, but to use that as a reason to delay the promise to discuss the consultation process for political reforms is rather lame.
It is up to Hongkongers to decide what is and what is not important.
The political reform process starting in 2012 is an important matter and the public should be given time to consider what is on offer.
We do not need our chief executive to worry about this on our behalf.
Bureaus already plan to have public consultations on other issues this year.
Are we going to delay all of them because it is thought people have no time to consider them?
I think the decision Mr Tsang has taken indicates he is not serious about political reforms.
H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
Why not test public opinion?
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said: 'I believe that citizens will not accept radical and violent behaviour in Legco' ('Chief hits back as more insults fly', January 16).
On what does he base this - his own feelings, or Beijing's instructions to believe it?
The best way to find out what Hongkongers believe is to ask all those eligible to vote to cast a 'yes' or a 'no' vote.
He may find out that Hongkongers do believe as he believes but, until they are asked, he cannot say for certain. My feeling is that he does not believe city residents believe him on any matter, and so is scared to ask.
Michael Jenkins, Central
Bush the worst president ever
Finally the American people are rid of the Bush administration. There should be dancing in the streets.
George W. Bush was the most unpopular US president since Richard Nixon. So why do some Americans still defend Mr Bush? Can they not see what has taken place during the past eight years?
Through various policies his administration bludgeoned America the Beautiful.
Some media pundits compared his unpopularity with that of Harry Truman when he was in the White House. The latter was very unpopular at the time because he developed projects, plans and actions that many Americans did not fully comprehend. Truman was forceful and determined.
However, over the years, people have arrived at a better understanding of what Truman wanted to do and many Americans have changed their opinions regarding his legacy.
Some Americans argue this will happen with Mr Bush and detractors will eventually change their negative opinion of his eight years in the White House.
The difference between the two presidents is that Truman worked hard to make America a better place so that families would have a better life.
This was never the Bush administration's plan. Its chief commitment was to gaining power for itself and it catered to wealthy special interest groups.
Mr Bush's government was responsible for a political, social and economic disaster in America. In my opinion, 'Dubya' got off easy. Not only was George W. Bush the worst US president ever, he also was the most dangerous, and Americans are lucky to be rid of him.
Peter Stern, Driftwood, Texas
Be consistent over pollution
I am surprised to see that raw sewage from nearby apartment buildings flows directly into the Tuen Mun Channel just north of the West Rail station.
I walk along the channel on my way home from work and the stench is hard to bear even in the winter. Older members of the community still catch fish in the channel to eat or sell informally around the nearby market, which is surely a health concern.
Even more surprising is that no one has complained about this situation until now, even those living in the expensive developments nearby.
Overall Hong Kong is much cleaner than many other cities I have lived in including London, but cases like this highlight the need for better regulation and enforcement of environmental protection laws throughout the whole city. I am sure if the polluted channel was outside the Legco building then change would occur very quickly. The people of Tuen Mun deserve better.
Oliver Gosling, Tuen Mun