Academic staff need support in administration
I write to provide more information about the role of non-academic staff at Hong Kong Polytechnic University so that your correspondent Bill Proudfit, a PolyU graduate, and the community may have a different perspective into the issue of non-academic support ('Universities can trim support staff members', January 5).
PolyU has always been very prudent in deploying its resources to provide the best possible education to our students. While teaching by faculty staff is important, quality education requires great attention to student admission, personal development, moral education and career counselling, just to name a few. Our academic staff also need support in administration so that they can focus on their duties (teaching, research and services to the community). As such, the non-academic staff members are instrumental in ensuring the achievement of the university's mission and vision. Please be assured that we do review our staffing needs from time to time as part of our continuous improvement process.
We thank Mr Proudfit for sharing his view on the teaching arrangement and department administration for the course he went for in 2009. We would be pleased to learn more and will liaise with him separately.
Tracy Ng, director of communications and public affairs, PolyU
Still room for improvement
I refer to the letter by N. S. Lam ('Hong Kong still has a long way to go', January 3), about the unwelcome treatment that he encountered from a Hong Kong shipping agent. He was refused permission to use the toilets in the mall where the agent was located. Mr Lam's case is neither extreme nor unusual.
Society has matured and more people are willing to come here and do business. It is an international city but we still have a long way to go.
What Mr Lam experienced proves that the city is not doing enough.
If residents in a city are hospitable, this creates a good image and makes it easier to attract tourists and businessmen. We need to learn to be more polite and welcoming.
The government has already done a lot to develop the tourism industry and to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to do businesses here.
However, now it is up to citizens to try harder and not evade our responsibilities.
The situation is improving, but we could do better. Foreigners are our guests and should be treated as such.
We must all make the effort, but it is particularly important for salesmen, business agents and tour guides and those who are in contact with foreign visitors every day, to be polite and hospitable.
The government should help to spread the message.
It could set up a special task force to deal with complaints, such as improper service attitude, or being cheated in a shop. Where complaints against shops and companies are upheld, those businesses should be punished. This can have a deterrent effect.
Also, the government should encourage companies to provide courses so staff adopt the right service attitude, and develop their communication skills.
Grace Kwong, Tsing Yi
US gun laws make no sense
One of the horrible certainties in life is that every four to six months, news will emerge of a mass-shooting incident in the United States.
The latest event has seen six people being butchered at a public meeting in Arizona.
Fortunately, the intended target, US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is still alive and apparently responding well to treatment, which is remarkable considering the fact that one of the bullets passed through her head.
Being a liberal European, my reaction to such news is shock.
Why don't Americans simply stop the general public having access to hand guns and other types of firearms?
Unfortunately, because 'the right to bear arms' is enshrined in the US Constitution, nothing of any significance ever gets done to solve the problem.
The profoundly depressing thought is that there are individuals and groups of people in the US who are anticipating their 'three score years and 10', but, unbeknown to them, they will soon have their lives taken away, all for the sake of a line in a document their forebears drafted more than 220 years ago.
What a daft world we live in.
Jason Ali, Sheung Wan
Turn arts hub site into park
With the departure of Graham Sheffield from West Kowloon Cultural District, it is to be hoped that the arts hub nonsense will at last be put to rest. Hong Kong was never a centre of culture or the arts.
It is a commercial and financial centre and has done very well at that.
We have had too many of these silly attempts at reinventing ourselves at massive public expense.
We were going to be a cyber hub at one time, and there are now plans to turn ourselves into a sports hub.
There are plenty of things the construction industry can usefully do. Let it do them.
Turn the arts hub site into a decent-sized public park.
That would be a real service to the people of Hong Kong, and it would be far cheaper, too.
Paul Flynn, Clear Water Bay
Air-con at full blast in winter
Isn't Hong Kong fantastic?
As a commuter to Central on our public buses, I really appreciate Citybus' great service of providing air-conditioning on its modern buses.
It has it on even when it is 14 degrees Celsius outside.
Because of that and with being on these buses for up to two hours every day, I have now invested in a freeze-proof jacket, cap and gloves so Citybus can make its air-con even cooler if it wishes.
Anders Ejendal, Repulse Bay
Use Facebook responsibly
There has been a great deal of discussion about the pros and cons of Facebook recently.
Some correspondents say it puts users under pressure, while others argue that it helps people connect with other users.
I agree that it is wrong to blame Facebook.
As one of the fastest-growing websites on the internet, it is merely a tool for human networking.
It can be beneficial to people if they use it properly.
You have to give up a certain amount of privacy when you open an online account.
However, you must ensure that you are properly protected.
We can control what contents we allow on the user page. We can choose to add or delete any images contained in the user album.
Most importantly, we are allowed to ensure privacy on the site so that outsiders cannot read the content inside.
Whether Facebook does good or bad to humans depends on how people make use of it.
What cannot be denied is that it is one of the cheapest, fastest and easiest tools for us to keep in touch with friends and relatives from around the globe.
Jimmy Chan Ka-ho, Tsz Wan Shan
Usual suspects will not share
So Hong Kong's dynasties have, through blood, sweat and tears, increased their net worth in the past year by an average of 21 per cent.
Presumably, they will now exhibit their magnanimity by acknowledging the part that their employees played in their success and increase their salaries by a similar percentage.
I also trust that our exalted tycoons realise that they have a responsibility to the community, which enabled them to amass such fortunes.
If Hong Kong is truly an integral part of 'socialist' China, then it should be conditional that those who accumulate wealth should use it to improve the living standards of all Hong Kong people.
The portents are not encouraging, and I suspect that 2011 will see the same suspects exploiting the system to their benefit and further exacerbating the divide, which is becoming increasingly pronounced in our society.
Jim Francis, Wan Chai
Reduce waste with recycling
In Hong Kong we are not very good at disposing of our rubbish. The government has to shoulder much of the blame for this problem.
It is the price we are paying for poor city planning.
Even some primary school students know that regions can be classified as residential areas, recreational areas or industrial areas.
So why was the Tseung Kwan O landfill put so close to a residential area?
Given that the landfill cannot be moved, at least more trees should be planted round it.
They can serve as windbreaks and may block the bad smell when the wind blows it towards residents. Camphor trees, for example, have a scent which could act as a natural purifier.
If landfills are not to be expanded in the future, then we must reduce volumes of waste in Hong Kong.
If the government is genuine about wanting to achieve this goal, then it must stimulate the development of recycling industries.
Hong Kong is our homeland and we all have a responsibility to keep it clean and tidy.
While the government has to pay the price for its poor city planning in the past, we must all now make a concerted effort to reduce waste and protect the environment. Otherwise, in the future we will pay the price for our failure to act now.
Jean Hui Ka-chun, Tsuen Wan