PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am


No betting rule hurts HK people

Japan's win against the US in the women's World Cup final has made the sport more popular than ever and one which I and a number of my male and female local and expat friends follow with great interest.

I was therefore surprised to see that the government had banned betting through the Jockey Club on the match between Chelsea and Aston Villa in Hong Kong on July 30 as a local team was involved in the tournament.

This is silly as being an avid Chelsea supporter I bet on Chelsea through the Jockey Club whenever they play in the English Premier League and yet I cannot find a way to support and bet on them when they play in Hong Kong?

I fully endorse the Jockey Club's CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and his comments that this ban borders on the absurd and how this 'logic' can be taken to new levels of silliness by not having bets on any sport which has a Hong Kong team as part of its tournament - the Word Cup and even the Olympics. Hongkongers are the only losers.

Surely the taxes the government would have earned on bets taken for this match would benefit Hong Kong.

This ban reeks of the government biting the very rich hand that feeds it the most.

K. Andrews, Yuen Long

Raise local teachers' standards

I refer to the letters from Cecilia Li ('Problem lies with local teachers', July 24) and from Barry Sadleir ('NETs are making a difference', July 24) in reply to my letter ('NETs should be replaced by locals', July 17).

I simply pointed out that since the handover English standards had fallen and a lot of money had been spent on native English-speaking teachers in government schools.

With so many pupils in each school individual contact with NETs will be minimal.

They are spread too thinly to have any beneficial effect. It would be better to allocate the money spent on NETs on lots of extra small-class tutorials in English run by the cheaper-to-employ local teachers.

These NETs are not badly paid despite.

They get a rental allowance of HK$16,000 a month and the most experienced teachers can earn close to HK$50,000 a month. Add to that the retention bonus every two years and it is clear most NETs have a financial incentive for coming here. Mr Sadleir talked of Hong Kong as being an 'alien' environment for NETs teachers and yet many of them still come here.

I agree with Cecilia Li that the English level of local teachers is also often a cause for concern.

Many are manifestly too weak in English to be able to impart correct usage to their pupils.

My point was that the huge sums spent every year on NETs could be spent more effectively on upgrading the level of English of schoolchildren by having more English tutorials.

They could preferably be provided by more-affordable local teachers, but only those teachers who have a strong grasp of the language they seek to pass on to their pupils.

Rob Leung, Wan Chai

Traditional lovely dress is dying out

The sad decline of the cheongsam, or qipao, outlined in your ' article ('Hang by a thread', July 29), makes one wonder why Chinese women have become so enamoured of Western fashions which really don't always suit them.

In Hong Kong over the past decades, one has seen local celebrities and models displaying the latest imported fashions featuring short skirts and low necklines.

Not only has this prompted the growth in the plastic surgery business (with breast enlargements) but wide eyes are also the fashion.

So you see vacuous women appearing in society pages staring at the camera flashing their widest-eyed looks (also acquired by surgery), thinking this makes them as attractive as Western women with double-lidded eyes.

Why can't they realise that almond-shaped eyes are a beautiful oriental asset? The saddest thing of all is seeing white wedding dresses replacing the beautiful red marriage qipaos of yore which so suit the Chinese female figure.

White is no longer thought as appropriate for funerals but for young things wishing to look like Hollywood brides as they exchange vows with their Western-suited grooms who likewise have abandoned that nice traditional male wedding attire.

History and nationalism have been jettisoned in the name of fashion.

It is a sad state of affairs.

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai

Free-for-all at lane for elderly

My husband and I go to Mission Hills in Shenzhen every Sunday for a game of golf.

We are both over 70 and normally return to Hong Kong the same day, arriving at Lok Ma Chau control point in the evening.

I fully understand, when no elders are using the designated lane it is open to other people to speed up the process of crossing the border.

On Sunday, July 31, we got to Lok Ma Chau at around 6.15pm.

There were three lanes open and the one for senior citizens (and the disabled) was packed as people had been told that anyone could use the lanes.

However, there were elderly people waiting and I pointed this out to a female immigration official who appeared to be giving instructions.

I asked why a lane sign regarding seniors was put up if it was being ignored.

A number of individuals in the queue agreed, including other elderly people, but she did not reply and gave me an unpleasant look. This is not the first time I have spoken to immigration staff, as has my husband, and we have been disappointed by the response.

The signs erected urge consideration towards the elderly and I look forward to an improvement in terms of lane management in future.

Helen Wan, Pok Fu Lam

Enforce ban on smoking outside

For the sake of the health of smokers and non-smokers alike, it is a good thing to extend the range of public areas where smoking is now banned.

That is all very well, but no law can be effective unless it is enforced.

The large pedestrian squares in Tsim Sha Tsui East, outside the East Ocean Centre, have recently been designated no-smoking areas.

However, few people seem to realise that. A handful of rather small notices about this are affixed to lamp-posts, and I noticed only one larger banner in the square itself.

Bearing in mind that this pedestrian area is generally full with many hundreds of people, such very limited signage is totally ineffective.

Many of the visitors to that area are mainland tourists, who go shopping there.

When alighting from their coaches, few would even be aware of this theoretical smoking ban, not having seen one of the, very few, small notices about it.

As a result, the so-called ban is widely ignored.

Within a five- minute period there the other day, I counted no fewer than 68 people smoking. Clearly, the Tobacco Control Office needs to erect much larger and more prominent signs about this.

They could additionally usefully tackle the many local bars and coffee shops, at which scores of people sit around outside, smoking.

The office also needs to have inspectors patrolling these squares, otherwise nobody will pay the slightest attention to this supposed ban on smoking there.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Efficiency but at a terrible cost

Michael Chugani commented on America's recent mess as a result of political grandstanding staged by its partisan politicians ('Polar politics', August 1).

He closed, by observing that while American-style democracy is capable of creating a government shutdown alongside examples of clumsy governance, 'countries such as China are prosperous and efficient without democracy'.

While the performance of American-style democracy and Chinese-style 'democratic dictatorship' is there for all to see, one thing is for sure: both are bound to incur a cost.

In the latter's case, its vaunted efficiency seems to have come at a huge cost, which makes a mockery of the very meaning of efficiency (think of those fast collapsing schools, bridges, and the railway crash), unless human lives do not count.

Karen Lee, Tai Po