PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am


King's College wasn't given any choice

In the report ('Elite school ordered to toe the line on cuts', April 5), Education Bureau permanent secretary Cherry Tse Ling Kit-ching said: 'If public schools are not in the scheme, how can we convince the others to join?'

But administrative expediency is not sufficient reason for the bureau to breach the rule of law and for its chief, Michael Suen Ming-yeung, to break a promise.

The scheme in question is the Voluntary Optimisation of Class Structure Scheme announced on November 18, 2010. Mr Suen said explicitly that schools should decide on whether to join the scheme, in the spirit of school-based management.

However, in the case of King's College, the decision was made by the bureau and thrust upon the school. What made things worse was that Mr Suen told the press on February 25 that King's College had joined the scheme 'voluntarily' when it clearly had not (''Voluntary' deal on school classes', February 26).

Mr Suen first broke a public promise and then told us what is not true.

King's College's school management committee is the proper authority to deal with the management and planning of the school, in the manner of incorporated management committees prescribed by sections 40AA-BU of the Education Ordinance.

At the school management committee meeting on February 24, members were not allowed to vote on whether to join the 'voluntary' scheme as they should have been as a matter of due process.

The central questions are now about honesty and integrity and the rule of law. It is no longer just a matter of an elite school having to reduce classes.

Lam Chiu-ying, president, King's College Old Boys' Association

Nuclear safety not assured

I am an independent energy consultant and refer to the report ('Daya Bay operator reassures HK', March 25).

This reassurance came from the operator of the Daya Bay nuclear plant.

The mantra was repeated that the facility was 'built to stringent designs, able to withstand powerful earthquakes'. But the legitimate question about the whereabouts of spent fuel at Daya Bay was dodged.

The operator at Daya Bay has convinced me, one who is generally a supporter of nuclear power, that the main safety problem is the ignorance and arrogance of those who operate plants. History has shown us plant operators cannot be trusted - not even in a seemingly more transparent and open society like Japan. God save us from the operators of the 70 and more plants in operation, under construction or planned in China - and worse, from the plants being built by China in 'failed states' like Pakistan.

This is not meant to support Hong Kong's greenies, who appear unable to differentiate between anything like a leaking water tap in a toilet at Daya Bay and a nuclear mishap.

What is needed to provide a safe and secure supply of energy based on nuclear technology are responsible owners and operators, competent and unbiased regulators, mature political groups and media and adequate contingency plans for a worst-case disaster.

After the assurances from Daya Bay, I do not feel safer in Hong Kong. Hong Kong does not need more nuclear power. Its quest for this is driven mainly by vested interests operating in a non-transparent environment who exploit the ignorance and incompetence of the regulators.

Owners and operators of existing and future nuclear power plants around Hong Kong, please come up with a better story.

Alexander Luedi, Clear Water Bay

Smaller ferries one solution

On March 30, four Democrats jumped into the harbour to protest against the shutting down of Star Ferry routes from Hung Hom to Central and Wan Chai. More than 20 police and firemen were on hand, and the government judged this as a waste of public resources.

Although I agree with that argument, it has to be asked if it was really necessary for the government to send so many rescue workers to the scene of the protest. I am sure fewer emergency personnel could have been deployed.

Also, the Democrats were protesting against the closure of ferry routes that should not be seen merely in transport terms but as part of our collective memory.

There is a more practical side to this. Those passengers who did use the two cancelled ferry routes will now have to travel on cross-harbour buses. During busy periods there are not enough of these buses, and so people will have a longer wait than they did for the ferry. They will also have to pay a higher fare.

Was the only solution to the problem of low usage the complete closure of the routes? Surely with its surplus, the government could have helped, or smaller vessels could have been deployed.

Chan Pak-hei, Ma On Shan

Pier relocation root of problem

I think the four Democrats were entitled to show their anger over the axing of the ferry routes from Hung Hom to Wan Chai and Central ('Democrats' team takes the plunge in protest', March 31).

Had the government been a little more responsible with its town planning strategy regarding location of the piers used by these ferries, the services might have enjoyed a new lease of life.

When the piers were moved at the harbour, it became more difficult for commuters in a rush to get to work and get home in the evening. If they had been closer to MTR stations, I do not think these routes would have had such a sad demise.

The termination of these services has limited the choices for Hung Hom commuters, and I am also concerned about ferry workers losing their jobs.

I wish the clock could be turned back and the pier located at a more convenient site. The harbour dip by the Democrats was not a waste of public resources but a cry of protest over the government's inefficiency.

Tiffany Mo, Tai Po

Feeling of loss a bit belated

Spurred by the impending closure of the Star Ferry routes from Central and Wan Chai to Hung Hom, many Hongkongers boarded these ferries before their final sailings.

During the last few days of the routes, passenger numbers soared, and people talked about collective memory.

Some Hung Hom residents were very annoyed by this attitude.

Why did so many people wait until almost the last moment to talk about the importance of these routes and claim that they were part of the city's collective memory? It seems strange that only when the closure of the routes was announced did Hongkongers express the need for conservation.

The fact is that over the last few years, these routes have recorded low passenger usage, and so their closure was inevitable. The attitude of people appeared to be that they did not use the ferry services but did not want to lose the option of these cross-harbour routes.

Chris Au, Wong Tai Sin

Grant priority to local mothers

The influx of mainland expectant mothers has increased the demand for Hong Kong's obstetrics services and neonatal intensive care units and is a cause of huge stress for obstetrics staff.

Medical services are limited in Hong Kong while the shortage of health care staff in public hospitals remains. How can we accept more mainland expectant mothers wanting to give birth here? It adds to the workload of all the departments of a hospital.

I think the government should impose restrictions on mainland mothers wanting to give birth here. In order to reduce the pressure on hospital staff and ensure a good standard of obstetrics services, priority must be given to local mothers.

Also, I think the central government should change its policies and offer better standards of health care to expectant mothers.

This would encourage these women to stay at home and stem the flood of expectant mothers across the border.

Rosenna Tse Ting-shan, Tuen Mun

Don't give HKID to all newborns

Mainland mothers have their babies in Hong Kong for two reasons.

First, the child will have a Hong Kong identity card. This is a prized possession.

Second, the health care system is vastly better here, dollar for dollar, compared with on the mainland.

The most effective way to stop mainland mothers overtaxing the public health care system is to simply remove the first reason.

Make it a rule that a child born in the SAR must have at least one parent holding a Hong Kong ID card, either permanent or temporary, in order to be eligible for its own ID card.

If mainland mothers want to avail themselves of the superior health care in Hong Kong, they may continue to do so. But they should be strongly discouraged from using public hospitals and encouraged to use the private hospitals.

Bill Proudfit, Discovery Bay

No say at all

The article concerning the redevelopment of Central Market ('Designs for Central Market unveiled', April 2) claims 'Hongkongers will still have their say in final plan'.

If anyone believes such a claim, he or she knows nothing about Hong Kong's powers that be.

We Hongkongers have about as much chance of having any influence on the final design of this market as we have on who will become the next chief executive - absolutely none at all.

Bob Beadman, Ma Wan