No need to relocate school
As the parent of a child studying at the Lingnan Primary School, Kindergarten and Nursery, I am appalled at the handling of the school's relocation by the Lingnan Educational Organisation (LEO).
First, it has failed to address why there is a sudden need to relocate. It claims in its 'announcement' published in the South China Morning Post on July 22, that unauthorised structures and construction nearby may pose safety issues. However, the Buildings Department has stated that such structures at the site pose no immediate danger, and construction on the former Lingnan College site nearby will not start soon. So why the rush to move to Siu Sai Wan by January 2012?
Second, there was no proper consultation by the LEO. In June it announced without warning that the school would be relocated. Parents had already been asked to make deposits for their children's school places. It has since ignored parent representatives' rebuttals of the safety issue.
Third, the LEO's resolution to withdraw as school-sponsoring body at its discretion is a threat to force parents to agree to relocation plans, as alternative places at this late stage are difficult to find.
Lastly, the status of Lingnan Primary students and teachers is still in jeopardy. As there is nothing structurally wrong with the Lingnan Primary site, there is really no reason for them to move.
The LEO says it wants to 'minimise inconvenience to pupils' but most of the students live near the current location and moving the school 30 minutes away is the ultimate inconvenience for young children.
The LEO seems to have lost interest in running the school at its current site.
R. Wong, Wan Chai
Cathay never said seats would go
We wish to clarify the points made by Catherine LeJeunesse in her letter ('Cathay's cocoon seats still here', July 24).
Cathay Pacific announced in December 2010 the launch of new business class seats for long-haul flights, and about 50 aircraft will be installed with the new product progressively by early 2013.
We have not made any announcement about our fixed-back economy class seats. The article that Ms LeJeunesse referred to quoted unnamed industry sources with no confirmation from the airline.
We value customer feedback and are constantly looking for ways to further improve our products and services.
While many of our passengers appreciate the protection of living space afforded by the fixed-back seats, we will certainly assess what more can be done to enhance the comfort level and quality of our seating.
C. K. Yeung, general manager, corporate communication, Cathay Pacific Airways
Cycling hero can inspire youngsters
I am a volunteer soccer and rugby coach of children aged 12 and under at Hong Kong Football Club and I also help coach HK Crusaders, a group of special needs people engaged in football activities.
Children these days are often put under intense pressure to achieve sporting greatness by parents and peers on the assumption they will be rich and a hero back home.
The pressure often leads to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the wrong assumption that you need to be physically big to succeed in a competitive environment.
Through the media children are provided with constant reminders of their own heroes trying to reach the top and falling short after testing positive for drugs.
Cadel Evans' win in the Tour de France at age 34 should inspire all children and parents to believe that dreams can be achieved. He is is only 1.74 metres, nearly died as an eight-year- old from a kick to head by a horse and changed from mountain bikes to road bikes later in his career.
He has never been under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs and the other professional riders know and respect him for this.
His coach and mentor Aldo Sassi, a staunch anti-doping advocate who passed away in December after a long battle with cancer, always believed that Evans could fulfil his dreams through hard work and determination.
This is an honourable win in the toughest sporting test of all and a great message for children to pursue your dream - your shape and size do not preclude you from reaching for the stars.
Jamie Spence, Repulse Bay
Teachers should work together
Since when has the discussion on English teaching turned into a futile debate on whether locals or native English-speaking teachers (NETs) are better at teaching English? This is like a pointless quarrel between two primary children over whose school is better.
Let's think win-win. We must put aside our sentiments and get hard-nosed if we are to help students learn better English.
Let's admit that local teachers and NETs have made contribution to English as a second language (ESL) teaching in Hong Kong. Let's also admit that they have different areas of expertise when it comes to nurturing young minds and that local teachers have high expectations of NETs, and vice versa.
Let's also admit that NETs are more skilled in creating an English-rich environment, and locals are more accomplished in presenting and explaining grammar items to second language learners.
Instead of marginalising a particular group of teachers, we should put our heads together and see what areas of English teaching need more collaboration and communication between locals and NETs.
Mutual respect is the key to building a task force at the school level that can facilitate the teaching and learning of English.
School administrators should capitalise on the presence of NETs so that local teachers and students can benefit from the NET scheme, and NETs can gain invaluable insights into local ESL teaching from their colleagues.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai
Abiding by collective responsibility
Rob Leung said my 'outspoken criticisms of policies approved by the [Executive] council, even if justified, go against the required collective responsibility' ('A bit rich of Leung to blast policies', July 25). He did not give any hint as to how I 'criticised' 'policies approved by the council' and how I went against collective responsibility.
In the past few years, I have actively taken part in public debates about poverty and the need to enact a statutory minimum wage. That debate was part of the community-wide process that helped forge consensus in Hong Kong, which in turn led to the successful enactment of the government-initiated minimum wage law.
I also actively took part in the discussion regarding the housing shortage which led to a near-consensus with regard to understanding the nature and extent of the problem and the subsequent increase in government land supply. None of these was intended to be a criticism of the government and definitely not 'criticism of policies approved by the Executive Council'.
Mr Leung also said that I took part in these discussions 'probably to boost his popularity among the small-circle chief executive electoral panel and the wider public'.
He should have noted that my active participation in public debates and discussion is not recent. For the past 14 years I have been abiding by the same collective responsibility rules of the Executive Council while maintaining active participation. Several of my non-official colleagues have been doing the same.
C . Y. Leung, convenor of the non-official members of the Executive Council
Life is still cheap on mainland
Deaths caused by negligence are not uncommon on the mainland. Examples are the melamine-tainted-milk scandal and substandard buildings that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.
While in the developed world safety is seen as a priority, mainland firms put operational efficiency and profit ahead of safety concerns.
In the developed world, apart from the belief that human lives are of paramount importance, compensation payments if negligence is proved can be astronomical. With mainland businesses not facing similar payments there is no incentive to allocate more resources to improve safety measures.
I hope this attitude towards loss of life will change as China rises to become a superpower.
Jamie Wong, To Kwa Wan