Children do need guidance in tough society
There has been a great deal of discussion regarding [Chinese-American scholar] Amy Chua's tough parenting. Some people accused her of cruelty, while others expressed admiration.
We need to look at the facts objectively. Her intentions are right but she has taken the wrong approach.
She has been too stern and tried to spoon-feed her children with her values.
She has not allowed her daughters to think critically and creatively.
However, it has to be said that in today's society, children are often given too much freedom. They therefore fail to learn the importance of discipline and respect. When they meet an obstacle, they turn to their parents for help. If things do not go their way, they blame others. It is important that our young people are taught self-discipline so that as they grow up they avoid harmful activities such as juvenile delinquency and drug abuse.
Given that Hong Kong is a knowledge-based society, it is essential to push youngsters in their studies. Only 15 per cent of students who sit the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination will get a university place. For this reason they must work hard.
If there is no parental guidance they will waste time and lack direction.
Ms Chua laid down ground rules for her daughters and this did help them. But she has gone too far. Parents should foster proper values towards life and help their children develop habits which will lead to success. However, there is no need for them to be as strict as Ms Chua has been with her children.
They need to be approachable so their children know they can come to them for advice. A childhood is precious and it should not be filled with academic lessons.
Youngsters should be allowed to experience different activities and sometimes be allowed to make their own choices. If, for example, they show an interest in a musical instrument or in drawing, parents should encourage them. They need to be given the chance to broaden their horizons.
Western and Chinese cultures can work in a harmonious way. Parents must be willing to make adjustments to suit the demands of the society they live in.
M. L. Lam, Kwun Tong
Difficult choices for parents
Childhood was once seen as being a carefree time in life, but this no longer seems to apply in this very competitive society.
Parents often feel that they have a responsibility to ensure their children are well equipped to deal with this competition as early as possible. They are pushed to succeed at an early age.
It is understandable that adults want the best for the next generation, but is the imposition of a tight weekly schedule of exam-cramming classes and piano and swimming lessons suitable for a five-year-old child? Is this a meaningful way for such young people to spend their time?
Is it not too young an age to impose so much pressure? Surely this alters what we used to mean by the carefree nature of childhood.
Ultimately, I suppose such a decision has to be made by individual families.
Mallory Ng, Shun Lee
Royal reforms long overdue
In these days of mandated equality between the sexes, in terms of job opportunities, it is highly appropriate that the British coalition and other Commonwealth governments are considering updating the rules of royal succession ('Britain may change laws on monarchy', January 20).
This would give any female firstborn of Prince William and Kate Middleton the right to become a future queen, rather than to have to take second place behind any younger brothers.
Over the last century, few could deny that Britain's present queen has been a far better monarch than any of her male predecessors who sat on the modern throne. And in terms of political leadership in troubled times, many believe that Margaret Thatcher was second only to Winston Churchill as being the most effective British prime minister of the last century.
With such illustrious female forebears in those top positions, it is high time the laws of royal succession were updated to give princesses an equal right to wear the crown.
The ancient discrimination, in royal succession rules, against Catholics is also well overdue for repeal.
Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels
Canine rescue a lesson in caring
There are sick people everywhere, even in the so-called dog heaven of Yung Shue Wan.
Recently a pup was given a severe beating, then stuffed into a bag and dumped into a rubbish bin, from where he was rescued by a kindly couple who arranged for the vet to put him back together again. He emerged from this experience missing one eye and with a somewhat misaligned jaw.
Under the loving care of my fianc?e this still very small dog is becoming a wholly engaging character and despite the ill treatment given him, happily embraces everyone, humans and other dogs alike, with equal enthusiasm. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
Peter Berry, Lamma
Worthwhile safety measure
I refer to Ken Chan's letter regarding platform doors at MTR stations ('Do we need safety doors?', January 18).
There have been incidents where people have fallen on to the tracks and sustained serious injuries at those stations without safety doors. These doors definitely help to prevent such incidents.
I agree with him that people should act responsibly. But if these doors do lead to a reduced accident rate then they are surely worth installing.
It is the MTR equivalent of having traffic lights at pedestrian crossings. It makes the environment safer for passengers.
Sophia Siu, Kwai Fong
Harsher laws in later years
Aryeh Neier is right to condemn draconian blasphemy laws in places such as Pakistan ('No justification for law on blasphemy', January 18).
He makes a good point in differentiating between so-called 'hate speech' and blasphemy.
He is wrong, however, to blame the blasphemy laws on 'British colonial rule'.
Though elements of such laws were a British legacy from the establishment of Pakistan, it was only in later years that they were progressively made harsher.
In the late 1970s, president Muhammad Zia ul-Haq made Islamic sharia laws tougher and introduced harsh penalties for criticism of the 'Prophet' Mohammed.
In the 1990s, premier Nawaz Sharif made blasphemy punishable by death, in accordance with strictures of sharia, and president Pervez Musharraf enshrined these provisions up to 2007.
It was only as Pakistan hewed more closely to orthodox sharia laws that blasphemy became increasingly punishable, ultimately (and grotesquely) by death.
These steps, taken by an independent Pakistan, led to nearly 1,300 individuals being accused of blasphemy between 1986 and 2010, up from only three in the previous 50 years. Lynch mobs have killed many 'blasphemers'.
Only by facing core tenets of sharia will there be any possibility to challenge the 'threat to the freedom of expression' by blasphemy laws, that Mr Neier correctly identifies.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay
Online sites can be abused
I refer to the letter by Angela Ho Lok-yiu on Facebook ('Internet has a dark side', January 18).
I think some teenagers do have to take care, especially if they lack maturity, as bad people do abuse Facebook. For example, there have been cases of internet sites being used for compensated dating.
Also, if youngsters spend too long online it will hinder their communication and language skills in the real world.
On the internet, people so often use short forms and Chinglish.
As a young person, I believe that Facebook can make us get closer since it provides us with a platform for keeping in touch with our friends from around the world. But there is no replacement for face-to-face communication.
Facial expression and body language are important.
Facebook has its advantages but it must be used properly.
Vanessa Chan Long-wu, Ho Man Tin
Incinerators much cleaner
I refer to the letter by Julia Brown ('Incinerator will not solve our waste problem', January 20).
There is no doubt that an incinerator will create pollutants such as ash. But thanks to advances in technology, the pollution from the present generation of incinerators has been greatly reduced.
This is certainly the case in Japan. It has only limited space, which makes it difficult to build landfills.
For this reason, it has chosen to build incinerators to dispose of the country's refuse.
Its incinerator plants are sealed and create smaller quantities of pollutants.
Hong Kong is in a similar position with regard to shortage of available land.
We should learn from the advances Japan has made with its incinerator technology.
However, we cannot just depend on incinerator plants or landfills.
We have to adopt a sustainable policy for the disposal of the rubbish we generate if we are to successfully tackle the root of the problem.
Ngai Ka-ying, To Kwa Wan