Explain aim of national education
With the heated debate regarding the government's proposed national education curriculum, too many people are jumping to knee-jerk conclusions without really understanding what shape a national education programme might take.
Indeed, the government prematurely asks the public for feedback without explaining to the public what, in fact, national education means.
China, as one of the world's oldest civilisations, has much to offer us from studying its history. A truly comprehensive national education curriculum would not only celebrate this history but also critically analyse it, offering students the opportunity to arrive at their own conclusions and affording them a forum to share these conclusions in a discussion-based setting.
If fostering patriotism is one of the goals of this curriculum, this should be applauded. However, let us be clear that true patriotism creates a desire for continuous review and improvement of governance.
The government must make clear its intentions.
Are we seeking to enrich the next generation and provide them with the necessary tools to become the leaders of tomorrow or is the administration acting on instructions to cultivate conformity in thinking?
The latter will inevitably lead to political regression and intellectual stagnation.
Ali Ebrahim, Mid-Levels
Do we really need this new subject?
I refer to Sam Wong's letter regarding the introduction of national education ('Brainwashed by colonial upbringing', September 12).
Mr Wong considers that those who oppose national education in the school curriculum do so because they lived in a British colony, and have forgotten their Chinese identity.
I wonder why it is so important for every Hong Kong student to study this subject and so embrace a national identity. Is it the only way our young students can acquire a deep understanding of China?
Those people who back this proposed compulsory subject should take a look at pupils' workloads. They have projects, homework, after-school tutorial classes and extracurricular activities. In my school, students under the new system sometimes do not leave for home until around 7pm and sometimes even later because of tests. They have so much homework to do that many have no time left to socialise or spend time with their family. If this additional course is made compulsory, they will have even less time.
Also, we read so many press reports of corrupt practices by mainland authorities and businessmen. I can understand why some people regard themselves as Hongkongers, but not Chinese.
It will take time for Hong Kong people to develop a strong sense of national identity and national education is not the only way of achieving that.
The government must listen to people from all walks of life before making any decision on this matter.
Amy Hui, Kowloon City
Widen pool of candidates for top job
Congratulations to Leung Chun-ying for having the fortitude to throw his hat into the ring for next year's chief executive election, and for promising a vigorous campaign ('C. Y. Leung signals his bid for chief executive's job', September 10).
Other probable candidates Henry Tang Ying-yen and Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai should realise that sitting on the fence for such a protracted period risks painful splinters. Their prevarications have become something of a soap opera, and are hardly indicative of the strong leadership that Hong Kong so surely needs.
I am appalled by so-called influential Tang supporter Chan Wing-kee's disconcerting statement that 'one candidate would be enough' and his opinion that more candidates 'will bring too much of a struggle to society, which is harmful for Hong Kong'.
What nonsense. The more intensive the leadership debate on the serious issues now facing Hong Kong, the better. I hope Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee will also decide to run in order to widen such a debate.
Perhaps the reason that Mr Chan wishes to restrict the candidate to only one is that he is doubtful of Henry Tang's competence in arguing issues before the Hong Kong public. Transparency is important and just currying favour behind closed doors with the business sector and mainland authorities shows disrespect for the Hong Kong citizenry.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Time to take better care of the elderly
Genuine help is needed for the elderly in Hong Kong.
I saw high-ranking officials on television paying a rare visit to elderly people and they clearly enjoyed first-class facilities. But in most old folks' homes, this is not the case. The government should be providing more resources to help them.
They worked hard for decades and made immense contributions to society. But the administration deserts them at a point in their lives where many of them can no longer look after themselves.
We must beef up medical care for the elderly and provide them with genuine and timely help when they need it.
They should be offered more choices. For example, instead of taking lots of medicines, for some conditions, it might be better to consult a Chinese medical practitioner. For example, acupressure and acupuncture can help some old people a lot, especially those who have had a stroke.
The government should allocate more resources in these areas and offer subsidies.
A lot of Hong Kong's old folk do not get enough to eat and we need more subsidised canteens.
I would also like to see subsidies given to schools to encourage more visits to the elderly.
This could bring more harmony to the society.
The administration should not see the elderly as a burden. Some critics have accused this government of being heartless. It is up to our officials to prove this is not the case.
Teddy Sik, Lantau
British test could have global impact
I read with dismay the report (''Volcano' in the sky to cool planet', September 2).
British scientists are going ahead with a scaled-down test model to inject particles into the stratosphere, to bounce some of the sun's energy back into space, in a bid to reduce global warming.
The test will be conducted at an undisclosed location, and has been described as a 'dangerous precedent for a full-scale deployment that could affect rainfall and food supplies' on the earth we all share as home.
My concern is that such plans affect not only Britain but the entire globe, and that includes us in China. We are all stakeholders to any proposed geo-engineering and no one is immune from any ill-effects that may be caused by this experiment. Does a single country have the right to affect the millions of life forms - humans, flora and fauna - that inhabit the earth? This haughty geo-engineering is playing God on a massive scale with results far exceeding the territorial limits of any one country.
Moreover, any ill-effects will be irreversible. Particles in our stratosphere may well affect health on many levels.
Once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back in. Do we need more diseases and climate changes to deal with, when the right thing to do is reduce man-made carbon emissions to manageable levels?
A huge amount of money and human resources will be expended on this test.
They would be better utilised on sustainable and renewable sources of energy.
It strikes me as an ill-conceived and highly irresponsible plan.
W. Tang, Repulse Bay
A call to make trade in organs legal
Every year, a lot of people are put on the waiting list for an organ transplant, hoping to regain a normal and healthy life. Yet they face a shortage of donors and many die before they can be given a new organ.
To address this problem, I suggest that the government legalises the organ trade, which would be a win-win situation for donors and recipients.
It would enable the donors to escape from poverty and the recipients could get on with their lives.
The legalisation of this trade would not necessarily mean the organ donor would be exploited as long as there was a government body set up to monitor the trade.
I hope the government will give serious consideration to this proposal.
Ho Yun-sum, Yuen Long