PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am


Teachers still able to do extra work

According to schoolteacher Tamara Kiew ('Teachers face impossible workload', September 18), teachers in Hong Kong are stressed and overworked. She complains that they are 'forced' to work at weekends.

But it is common knowledge that many native English-speaking teachers (NETs) themselves choose to take on additional paid work, such as giving private tutorials and examining for IELTS [International English Language Testing System] at weekends.

If they are so exhausted from their day job, why would they voluntarily take on more work on their precious days off? And as the foreign NETs here are so well paid, why do they feel the need to take on extra paid jobs anyway? To ensure that NETs come fresh to school on Monday mornings, the Education Bureau's rules need to be changed, to prohibit the already well-paid NETs from taking on any additional paid outside work.

And if a schoolteacher's job here really is as terribly stressful as Ms Kiew makes out, then why don't they seek alternative work, in a less stressful environment?

Rob Leung, Wan Chai

Long hours common in HK offices

Perhaps Tamara Kiew would like to reconsider her use of the expression 'modern day slavery' to describe the life of a Hong Kong schoolteacher ('Teachers face impossible workload', September 18).

Having arrived recently in Hong Kong, presumably on the native English-speaking teachers (NETs) scheme, Ms Kiew seems to be outraged by her working conditions. Maybe she has yet to realise the hours that many Hong Kong employees work.

If she were to take a look around a typical office she would find people at their desks until late most nights. After living here for a while, she may also realise that to be asked to work on the occasional weekend is far from unusual.

As has been frequently remarked on in this newspaper, a schoolteacher in Hong Kong is fairly paid, earning a salary which compares favourably to salaries in the countries from which most of our overseas teachers are recruited. As for days off, no teacher really should be complaining.

As a teacher myself, also working in a local school, I understand that there are certain aspects of a teaching career that can be stressful. It is a job that entails considerable responsibility. There is, however, almost no other job that attracts a similar holiday allowance or, arguably, a greater intrinsic reward.

No matter how heavy she finds the workload of a teacher, if she were to compare this to the average Hong Kong worker and look at the average local salary, typical leave entitlement and other working conditions, she might change her opinion.

With regard to her final comment, as slavery is a real issue across the region, to refer to her own position in these terms is insensitive. Many people are still, even now, enslaved. Teachers are not.

A. Cable, Cheung Chau

Mooncake waste can be avoided

I refer to your How We See It column ('Ah, tradition: discarding the mooncake', September 15).

As you earlier reported, Hongkongers last year threw away enough mooncakes to cover 25 basketball courts; this illustrates the level of waste over the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Why are so many mooncakes discarded?

First, they are often bought as presents for friends or relatives and the recipients will probably only eat one or two small pieces to be polite. After the mooncakes have passed the date when it is still okay to eat them they are thrown out along with packaging in which they were wrapped.

Also, mooncakes are often purchased because it is part of the festival's tradition, but many people, especially youngsters, find them too sweet and so they are thrown out.

Some people will buy a selection and try the different flavours, but they may not like some of the flavours and again more mooncakes are wasted. People should think carefully before making a purchase and only buy what they need. They should give the mooncakes they cannot eat to charities.

The most important thing about the Mid-Autumn Festival is that families get together. The mooncake is of secondary importance, and we must all try to reduce our levels of waste.

Cheryl Wong, Kwai Chung

Simple ways to check phone costs

I refer to the letter by Michael Jenkins ('No way to check daily mobile costs'', September 18).

PCCW mobile is pleased to advise your readers that there are several ways for our customers to check their unbilled local usage of call airtime and mobile data.

One convenient way is via a smartphone app to check account information - PCCW's My Account Check app is available for free download from the Android Market and App Store. It allows customers to view their current balance (outstanding amount as of last bill date) and unbilled local usage and entitlements of voice call airtime, video call airtime and mobile data, as well as local usage of SMS, as of the last practicable system record date.

In addition, customers may also view a summary of the past three months' bills.

Other smartphone and feature phone users may also check their unbilled local usage of voice and video call airtime, mobile data, and SMS through PCCW mobile's My Account function on its WAP portal.

In addition, customers may dial *139#(English) or *138#(Chinese) on their handsets to obtain an SMS of the current balance and unbilled local usage of voice and video call airtime, and mobile data.

Finally, customers may also call PCCW's 24-hour Customer Service hotline 1000 or visit http://www.pccwmobile.com to get similar information.

Mr Jenkins calls for the government to pass regulations, but innovative and customer-friendly approaches such as those introduced by PCCW show that intrusive regulation is unnecessary.

C. K. Chan, head of group communications, PCCW

HK$6,000 handout policy unfair

I would like to complain to the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung about the unsatisfactory registration arrangement for the 'Scheme $6000' (HK$6,000 payment to permanent residents).

I submitted a registration form on behalf of my mother, who is over 90, for a direct transfer to her bank.

However, I received a phone call from an official on behalf of 'Scheme $6000' saying there were problems with the form as her bank was not one of the scheme's 21 participating banks.

I explained that my mother has only one account and she has held it with this small bank for more than 40 years.

Her government old age allowance is paid into it every month.

The officer insisted she would either have to open a new account or get a cheque for the HK$6,000 sent to her in the post.

The government should not be rewarding these 21 banks with huge administration fees and in the process creating an unnecessary hurdle for the most vulnerable members of society.

I urge Mr Chan to explain why is it so difficult for the Treasury to directly pay the HK$6,000 into my elderly mother's bank account?

Helen Ma, Mid-Levels

Group-buy websites are still risky

The number of people who buy things through the internet has increased rapidly.

It is a controversial issue, as some people argue this is not a positive development. However, it is very convenient to purchase goods in this way and is helpful for Hongkongers who lead such hectic lives.

We all have to work so hard and so it is much easier to be able to complete a transaction online as it saves you a lot of time. And it is a natural development in such a hi-tech city. Also, buying through the internet in a group can be a lot cheaper. However, this method of purchasing is not foolproof.

There is still not sufficient protection for group buying. It is still difficult to know if what you're purchasing is real or fake. Take the purchase of ferry tickets from Macao Dragon. There was group buying online hours before the company announced it was filing for bankruptcy ('Police asked to probe failed ferry operator', September 17).

Clearly, people making transactions on group buying websites have to think carefully before making a purchase. The government should also look into the possibility of introducing regulations which will protect Hong Kong consumers.

Keith Wong Tsz-ting, Lai Chi Kok


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