PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am

HK parents have got their priorities wrong

It truly was a tragic moment when a mother threw her four-year-old daughter over a balcony at a shopping mall and then killed herself. It has been suggested that the girl's parents were having a discussion about her education before the tragedy.

Parents nowadays are facing tremendous pressure and often become too tense when it comes to their responsibilities for their children's education. In a survey on anxiety we conducted in May of last year, more than 1,600 parents responded and schooling was the key factor contributing to their high levels of anxiety and stress.

It is often felt that gaining entry to a reputable school will secure a successful future for a child, regardless of whether or not the parents can afford it, or if the child is suitable for that school. The result is that children and parents are overloaded with pressure. Rather than choosing the 'best' education path and the 'best' material support, the best gift parents can provide to their children is emotional support. Such support, along with understanding and interactive communication, are often overlooked.

These are the fundamental building blocks for children's growth and development.

As we have witnessed from our front-line experience and confirmed by research findings, the brilliant achievements of a child leading to a successful career are not measured solely by the acquisition of knowledge. Parents also need to pay more attention to the need to have sound mental and emotional stability.

There are simple things they can do on a daily basis, such as listening, talking, playing and telling jokes to their children. They should have dinner together as a family. In these ways they can foster good parent-child relationships and boost their children's self-confidence, which helps with character development. I hope during this festive season parents will relax more, try to have fun and enjoy the company of their sons and daughters.

Lilian Law, executive director, the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong

Life about more than money

Shouldn't the tragic events that took place in Sham Shui Po ('Girl hurled from balcony in mall', February 8) serve as a jolt to the collective consciousness of Hong Kong society?

Reportedly, a quarrel between the father and mother about the alleged failure of the child to attain a place in an English Schools Foundation school led to the child being tossed over the railing, followed by the suicide of the mother.

Hong Kong society is obsessed by monetary and career success. This creates enormous pressure from kindergarten up to secondary level, where schools can extort parents with astronomical fees and debentures, not to mention creating a market in which private tutors can advertise their HK$1 million per annum enterprises. If a child fails to secure a place at an ESF school, is she doomed for life? It would appear some parents think so.

There is no doubt that Hong Kong is a prosperous society, due to the enterprising nature of its white collar citizens. But don't forget the toil of the everyday blue- collar workers who literally built this impressive city.

I hope some public dialogue can take place following the tragic death of the mother. And that, somehow, more tragedies like this can be averted if people realise that life is about more than money, perceived success and the endless pursuit of earthly goods.

Leon Jacobs, Clear Water Bay

Humans make bigger mess

Josephine Bersee complained about dog owners not doing a good job cleaning up after their pets ('No to dogs', February 8).

I am puzzled why 'brown smears and yellow puddles', which are very few and far between in Mid-Levels, should occupy her attention and not bird droppings. One must look hard to find any sign of dogs' clean-up residuals in my neighbourhood. They are certainly much less repulsively rampant than vomit stains and pungent beer spills which street sweepers have to clean up in Lan Kwai Fong every morning.

Blasting radios, foul mouths and loud talkers are real nuisances in public and should be banned in parks, not dogs.

Julia Kwong, Mid-Levels

Green solution for lovely beach

I would like to commend the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for listening and responding to the concerns of Big Wave Bay village residents and all those Hongkongers who love this pristine gem on Hong Kong Island.

Last summer the public learned of government plans to spend millions of dollars and several months digging up the beach to install a concrete wall along the back of the beach to protect the sand dunes from erosion.

Following public protests, the department organised town-council-style meetings to address the concerns of all stakeholders.

It has now decided against concreting the beach and will instead plant vegetation to help anchor the sand - an ecological solution much more in harmony with the surrounding environs.

Kenneth Howe, Shek O

Bartenders are responsible

There is no corporate responsibility behind the warnings to be put in bars and on beer glasses.

The random drink-driving testing has focused the spotlight directly on the people responsible - bartenders and the liquor licence holders who do their very best to get their customers drunk to make more money.

With the new random testing there is now a legal paper trail from a drink-driver to the responsible bartender who got the driver drunk, through the credit card purchases in the bar. I look forward to the first prosecution of these irresponsible bar-keepers.

Annelise Connell, Stanley

Get tough with homeowners

As usual with the government and its civil servants they give the excuse of being too busy and not having enough staff when it comes to enforcing building rules and regulations.

Is it not about time that simple rules were invoked and properly enforced without another bundle of excuses?

If there are illegal structures on a building send a notice to the owner at the last address registered with the Lands Department demanding that the changes are made within three months.

If the job is not done then a compulsory purchase order for the building should be issued and it should be redeveloped as public housing with no compensation to the owners.

If the owners have moved on without telling the authorities and did not receive the notice, then that is their fault.

Why should Hong Kong taxpayers pick up the tab for unscrupulous owners who are not prepared to abide by the law?

Get tough and enforce rules - that is the only way.

John Sanders, Hung Hom

Training course for rude medics

I refer to the report ('Bad conduct may cost licence, doctors told', February 4).

Apart from having good medical skills it is important for doctors to have the right attitude when it comes to dealing with patients. If patients have several questions the doctor should be patient and help clear up any confusion that may exist.

It does not matter who you are, politeness does not cost anything. There is no excuse for foul or offensive language.

Those medics who use such language should be dealt with in a serious way by the Medical Council. Of course there may be extenuating circumstances, for example if a patient was abusive and that is what triggered an argument.

The government should hold training courses for doctors who have been verbally abusive and for doctors who have just joined the profession.

These young medics lack experience and may not know how to deal with patients.

Kwan Ho-yin, Kwai Chung

Help cyclists

Bicycles are less popular than they used to be. People prefer to use public transport rather than get on a bike.

However, bicycles are a healthier option and in transport terms they do nothing to harm the environment. For these reasons, I believe the government should try to provide more facilities for cycling in Hong Kong.

So many residents of the city get very little exercise and cycling would offer them the chance to lead a healthier lifestyle.

We can follow the example set by Japan. Cycling is very popular there but it will not have the same attraction to Hongkongers if the facilities are not provided to make it easier to ride a bicycle.

CoCo Fan Wing-sum, Tsuen Wan

Simple solution

I refer to the letter by acting Chief Superintendent Anna Tsang Yim-sheung, of the police public relations branch ('Double parking is not ignored', February 9). I was pleased to read that front-line police are taking enforcement action against cars illegally parked outside Fook Lam Moon restaurant in Wan Chai.

For the period January-December 2009 inclusive, 74 parking tickets were issued at or near this location, one every five days.

However, 74 in a day would put a stop to this nonsense, 74 in a week would be a real deterrent.

Then the front-line police could move on to Glenealy, in Central, where drivers systematically block the left-hand lanes waiting for the call from the boss.

Alan Olsen, Mid-Levels