PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 October, 2009, 12:00am

Should mainland maids be allowed to work in Hong Kong?

Many families employ foreign domestic helpers to handle household affairs, as well as to take care of children and elderly relatives.

According to the Immigration Department, the number of foreign maids in Hong Kong already exceeds 260,000 ('No timetable on mainland maids, says think-tank chief', September 26). This indicates that there is an enormous demand for domestic helpers.

Perhaps that is why the government think tank, the Central Policy Unit, is 'researching issues surrounding the possibility of bringing in mainland maids'.

However, I do not think it is a good idea and I think such a policy, if implemented, would give rise to many practical problems.

I am concerned that there could be loopholes in the system and therefore it could be open to abuse.

People could bring in their wives and other relatives.

This would be an infringement of immigration regulations in Hong Kong and it could generate more social problems in the city.

Many maids leave the Philippines and Indonesia for Hong Kong and other parts of the world. They have a well-developed registration system for maids. In these countries, the governments ensure the maids are given adequate training, so they can reach a certain level of aptitude.

This means they can do the jobs required of them by their employers when they come here.

Therefore, if the Hong Kong government decides that it will allow domestic helpers to come in from the mainland, officials should learn lessons from those from the Philippines and Indonesia.

They should co-operate with the authorities on the mainland to ensure that mainland maids have reached the required standards.

Kwok Hon-lam, Kwai Chung

Should bargaining for taxi fares be a criminal offence?

Making it a criminal offence would offer protection to taxi drivers.

A new law would help to combat the so-called illegal discount gangs. Those gangs are offering discounts to attract customers.

This is really unfair to law-abiding taxi drivers as they end up getting fewer passengers and their revenue drops. Consequently, they end up earning less.

A new law would offer them additional protection, because some customers at present can keep insisting on a discount.

They might get very aggressive if the driver declines and wants to use the meter.

Legislation outlawing this practice can act as a deterrent for these aggressive passengers.

Also, if a law is introduced, cabbies can call the police if the customer keeps demanding a discount.

Critics of such proposed legislation claim the law is not practical ('Proposed ban on taxi fare bargaining 'too hard to enforce',' September 24).

However, I do not think this is any reason to oppose this proposed legislation.

Enacting a law and enforcing it are two different issues which must be viewed separately.

Having a law can help reduce this problem, but it will not disappear.

Yim Yau-wun, Sha Tin

Should schools stop using textbooks for liberal studies?

I do not think there is any doubt that textbooks should be used for this subject.

However, schools should not use them as primary teaching material, but as reference books.

So much is going on in our society, and it is constantly evolving and changing. Liberal studies looks at society and at those changes.

A textbook cannot reflect those changes, once it has been published. The material students use must reflect the latest changes and textbooks cannot do that. Teachers should develop their own material for this new subject. It should be easy to select useful topics for pupils to study.

As I said, textbooks that can be used should be reference books, if, for example, students are unsure about some definitions.

At my school, for example, we are looking at the issue of public health. Teachers prepare different issues for us to discuss and we present our ideas in front of the class.

When you listen to fellow pupils present their views, it gives you fresh input to your views.

A textbook can provide you with more information. I think this is the best arrangement.

Chan Tat-lin, Tsuen Wan

The Education Bureau wants teachers to prepare their own material for this subject and has discouraged them from using textbooks. However, schools seem to have made their own decisions on this ('Schools defy no-textbooks advice', September 28).

I think it is impractical to implement such a policy. There are many advantages to using liberal studies textbooks.

Some of the material you need can only be found in a textbook and it will be clearly explained. You can easily search for references and this is a convenient way to study. It is difficult for students to learn everything they need for the course just from newspapers.

However, textbooks do have limitations.

Liberal studies looks at issues that are constantly changing.

If they rely on textbooks alone, they will end up relying on source material that is out of date.

I think the best solution is to keep textbooks as reference material. Teachers should also produce their own material for the classroom to keep the subject current, such as newspaper clippings and videos. If textbooks can help liberal studies students, then they should continue to be used in the classroom.

T. H. Yee, Tai Po

Liberal studies is a special case in the school curriculum, in that textbooks are not needed.

The aim of the subject is to encourage critical thinking about current affairs.

It is different from those subjects where students have to memorise material and use textbooks.

In liberal studies classes, teachers can print notes using lower quality paper.

If pupils are not required to buy textbooks, then this will be good news for families on low incomes and good for the health of students, as it will make their school bags lighter.

Yuen Tsz-wun, Tin Shui Wai