PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am


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Ethics lessons taught in school not the answer

Some of your correspondents have proposed the study of the topic of ethics in schools and colleges.

They do so, apparently, thinking that such courses would automatically result in Hong Kong's young people leading a more moral life.

But learning the difference between right and wrong should, more properly, be inculcated at a much younger age, on the mother's knee. Parents need to spend more quality time with their children, difficult though that may be to manage when both parents may have busy full-time jobs.

The strong moral guidance needed by children cannot be expected to be provided by the household maid to whom the upbringing of the children is too often delegated in many busy Hong Kong families.

It is one thing to know the difference between what is morally right and morally wrong. But it is a further and vital step in a child's upbringing to lead him or her to choose the right path of his or her own accord. Parents can show by example the best types of moral behaviour.

The laws of any land cannot cover all aspects of moral conduct. They simply regulate many of the most extreme cases. A burglar or pickpocket would normally know that such behaviour is morally wrong, as well as being against the law. But that criminal lacks the moral urge to avoid such wrongdoing, thinking that if he gains by it, it is okay, no matter who else suffers.

Behind these deliberations are the scandals of highly educated professional people caught in morally dubious circumstances. Some end up being imprisoned for making the wrong choices.

Certainly, examining what would be the most moral way forward in difficult and conflicting circumstances, which would likely be discussed on such ethics courses, can bring a heightened appreciation of some of the tricky moral choices that need to be made in daily life.

But unless those students have a firm grounding of their own, an inherent feeling about what is right and what is wrong (learned at a young age, at home), then any amount of academic study of ethics will not, of itself, be enough to lead them to the right path.

Positive role models (including parents), religious beliefs and several other factors can help young people come to choose the most moral way, when put to the test of real life, after they leave full-time education.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Cable TV can offer free service

I refer to the letter from Hal Archer ('Not enough business for new operator', July 22), who suggested that Hong Kong has no room for more free television services.

We take a completely opposite view.

Cable TV is capable and prepared to start to offer a service to more than two million households. Operating scale enables us to do so. All that is needed is a free TV licence.

This would hardly be news to the government.

For years, the public has been told there is no atmospheric spectrum to accommodate another free TV licensee. Cable TV can easily overcome that by transmitting over its existing network, which already reaches more than two million homes.

For years, public policy has been to separate pay TV operators from free TV. Since 2000, TVB alone has been given an exemption.

Hong Kong Baptist University assistant professor To Yiu-ming asked: 'TVB can have pay-TV services but pay-TV operators cannot do free-to-air. Why not?' (''More competition' would force ATV, TVB to serve public better', July 20). The answer to the question is a regulatory regime slanting heavily (and curiously) towards the dominant free TV operator.

It is well known that three free radio services have co-existed for years. That provides a good reference framework for free TV. On that basis, we are ready to prove that a third free TV licensee is very viable. That, of course, presumes the government decides to introduce additional free TV competition.

Garmen Chan, vice-president, external affairs, Hong Kong Cable Television Limited

Sales ban may be only option

Tracy Lam wrote in her letter 'people uncomfortable about inhaling second-hand smoke can avoid designated smoking areas' ('Enough controls', July 19). This is ridiculous. Are our streets designated smoking zones?

She claimed to be a non-smoker and then implied she is comfortable being a passive smoker.

If tighter controls over smoking are not possible, then the government should impose a total ban on tobacco sales for the sake of our health, not set out smoking areas.

V. Ang, Shau Kei Wan

Rich are always in control

Power corrupts all people irrespective of race, colour, parties or ideals.

In previous eras and in the modern democratic era, the rich and powerful have exploited all political systems. They have even infiltrated the religious organisations globally.

Elsie Tu, however, is asking us to wear blinkers and wrongly believe that this powerful, rich trait exists only in democratic systems ('The rich and powerful exploit so-called democratic systems', July 21).

It would be better if Mrs Tu looked beyond this common factor that exists in all political systems and discussed human rights abuses, along with other variable factors such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression and of the press. Hong Kong people need a better understanding of what it means to be free in a democracy.

D. Kamlesh, Tsim Sha Tsui

Behind France

I recently returned from seven weeks hiking in France and the Pyrenees.

Some comparisons with Hong Kong are inevitable.

Every town and small French village enjoys a sophisticated recycling system. In Hong Kong our waste disposal and recycling is almost third-world.

I did not experience a single supermarket offering plastic bags; they simply don't have any. Either you bring your own bag, or tough luck, which is exactly the way it should be.

Food in this generally expensive country is cheaper than our local ParknShop in Discovery Bay and elsewhere in Hong Kong, even including the 40 per cent premium we pay for the euro/Hong Kong dollar exchange rate.

Such a ridiculous extreme can only be the result of a monopoly in Discovery Bay and a duopoly in the rest of Hong Kong.

Peter Sherwood, Discovery Bay

Cultural mix

It is hard to believe the kerfuffle generated over the importance of English, with some correspondents arguing that Hong Kong is a Chinese city so foreigners should learn Chinese.

This goes counter to the argument that we are an international city and that the successful formula pre-1997 was meant to stay untouched. Hong Kong has always been more than 95 per cent Chinese, but so what?

The winning formula is east meets west. English was and still is the world's business language. If Hong Kong was so successful post-handover, we could say that the Hong Kong Chinese way works - but it hasn't. We have experienced hardly a day when we haven't been pummelled by a perfect storm of bad fung shui, some out of our control but much through incompetence. The problem was not China taking over but the British leaving.

Mike Brooks, Tsuen Wan