ESF families face burden of inflation
I was disappointed to learn that the level of subvention provided for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) has not been appropriately adjusted to meet the undeniable demand for its model of education within Hong Kong.
Parents and the greater community continue to value the services that the ESF provides for emerging generations.
It would be to the detriment of Hong Kong if the ESF were to be transformed into another avenue of exclusiveness where the sole criterion for admission was financial.
It is evident from the calibre of the students and their accomplishments that the ESF is not a monetary vacuum where educational successes are absent.
I accept that times change and reviews are necessary, but as inflation impinges upon the cost of living, it is crucial that due consideration be given to the effect of increasing expenditure upon the strained budgets of families.
This is especially the case with families who are prepared to make sacrifices for a high-quality and affordable education for their children yet do not have vast financial means.
All that is being requested is a fair assessment of the level of subvention. We do not want to see a situation where some families take drastic action for financial reasons.
The ESF provides a much valued service. It would be myopic for decisions to be made for short-term fiscal reasons at the expense of long-term educational considerations, compromising the future of Hong Kong's young people.
Wynnse Yu Lau, Hung Hom
Dangers of mobile use long-term
Rosanna Chiu Tsz-yau made several worthwhile recommendations ('Curb use of mobiles for health's sake', July 2).
She said adult users of mobiles should keep their calls short and children should be discouraged from using them at all.
Recent scientific studies into the possible health risks of mobile phone use have produced conflicting evidence.
Some report a likely increased risk of cancer from prolonged use, while others claim that a link is not yet proven.
We need to remember that the deadly dangers to health of smoking took decades to be scientifically proven.
Furthermore, it is lifelong smoking that often results in illness or death for the smoker: these afflictions don't incapacitate the smoker with his or her first cigarette.
Many fall ill or die from smoking only in middle age or in later life.
Mobile phones have not yet been around for long enough for anyone to have used one for a lifetime. Therefore, the safety or danger of their long-term use will not be known for many years.
You need only look around the streets and public transport systems of Hong Kong to realise that moderate usage is far from the norm.
Young schoolchildren are to be seen with a mobile clamped to their ear from the moment they leave the school gates, all the way home.
Teenagers often chat to their friends by the hour on their mobile phones.
It is precisely these younger members of the community whose developing brain cells are thought to be most at risk from being damaged by the radiation emitted by mobiles. And yet their usage is commonly very prolonged.
Other than not buying a mobile for your child, do readers have any suggestions about how to encourage young (or, indeed, any) mobile phone addicts to keep their usage within moderate bounds?
If the present widespread high level of usage by youngsters continues, I fear that many of these people will fall ill in later life.
Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels
Bravo for children's concerts
I wrote to these columns last year and asked if Hong Kong's orchestras were doing enough in respect of their educational role, especially when it came to very young audiences. I am delighted that the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, especially, has been able during the current season to increase the number of its 'Classical Music for Babies' programmes significantly.
Our family joined the most recent one, and it was a huge success in all aspects.
There was a full house, an enthusiastic audience, motivated, laughing members of the orchestra and a fantastic conductor and presenter in Peter Moore.
In addition, the Sinfonietta has been able to expand the coverage of its popular free lunchtime concerts to my office area in Wan Chai.
I attended one recently. It was the same picture as the concert for children - a full house, audience members from all age groups and backgrounds, and an excellent performance from the orchestra.
I urge the Sinfonietta to keep going with these concerts.
I hope that the Hong Kong Philharmonic will also come up with such children-friendly out-of-schedule concerts as it did last season and that the Hong Kong Museum of Art can continue with its free 'Sound of Art' Sunday concerts.
Stefan Harfich, North Point
Cyclists must follow rules of the road
Too many cyclists ride in groups of two and three on Castle Peak Road, posing a risk to themselves and motorists.
The section of the Road Users' Code for cyclists riding on the road states, 'You must ride in single file except when overtaking' and 'Ride along near the kerb or side of the road'. Yet these rules are often ignored.
Along Castle Peak Road, Sham Tseng, opposite Garden Bakery, at the Kowloon-bound junction, motorists trying to get into the left lane to use the access road to Tuen Mun Highway are often impeded by cyclists cutting out to the middle lane.
It is already bad enough negotiating the bus stops and minibuses double parking to pick up passengers, but now there is a new danger from aggressive cyclists weaving in and out at full speed between vehicles and changing lanes without regard to traffic conditions.
Cyclists must learn the rules of the road and abide by them.
Kelvin K. S. Chu, Siu Lam
Crack down on litter at Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau's harbour is filled with a huge amount of white styrofoam boxes, household litter and other kinds of rubbish.
As a long-time resident, I have seen, on many occasions, rubbish being thrown overboard from fishermen's boats or by locals strolling along the praya.
People who do this should be punished. Why are the Marine and Food and Environmental Hygiene departments not enforcing the law? Has anyone ever been convicted and fined for throwing litter into the harbour at Cheung Chau?
Efforts at education are not working, and putting up posters is a futile exercise. These people will only get the message when they are fined.
The best kind of education for litterbugs is the legal tool of punishment, as they clearly have no respect for the environment in which they live and work.
The government should use all the resources at its disposal, come out to Cheung Chau and show zero tolerance; otherwise this littering will never be stopped.
Hans Wergin, Cheung Chau
Warn crowd before using pepper spray
Many demonstrators were arrested when they blocked roads on Hong Kong Island following the march on July 1.
Some of them accused the police of spraying pepper foam without giving any advance warning.
In future, to avoid any misunderstanding, police should broadcast a recorded warning before taking action.
Demonstrators should be informed that pepper spray will be used within three minutes unless they disperse.
This will give a clear message to the crowd that they are being given a final opportunity to leave before officers use the pepper spray.
Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin
Tolerance of law-breaking is selective
I refer to the article by Lau Nai-keung ('July 1 marchers on the wrong route with radical action', July 8).
Your columnist says that Hong Kong citizens will not tolerate an attack on law and order.
If this is the case, then, for example, why have Hongkongers, the government included, tolerated illegal structures in the New Territories for decades?
Samuel Ribet, North Point