PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am


Failing to see the bigger picture

The responses of Rob Leung ('Teachers still able to do extra work', September 25) and A. Cable ('Long hours common in HK offices', September 25) to Tamara Kiew's letter ('Teachers face impossible workload', September 18) may have missed the point.

While I agree that the use of the word 'slavery' is too heavy, Mr Leung questioned Ms Kiew's involvement in a voluntary paid job teaching IELTS [International English Language Testing System] courses at weekends when the workload is so heavy.

He said Education Bureau rules should be changed to prohibit such jobs.

Teachers' paid jobs outside school must be approved by the school's principal and board of directors.

Most teachers that I know take extra paid work not for the money, but for the need to understand the standard and trends of other schools and students.

They bring these experiences back to their school to refine their teaching.

Without these teachers the Examinations and Assessment Authority would not have enough teachers serving as exam markers and doing other jobs for the meagre wages paid.

A. Cable's view is that Ms Kiew should have known about the workload she would face and so should not complain.

You may be aware of working conditions, but that does not make what is happening right.

If A. Cable thinks Hong Kong people work too hard, he, or she, should join Ms Kiew in fighting for a more humane cap on working hours.

Colin Lai, Ap Lei Chau

Not seeking extra work at weekends

As a native English-speaking teacher (NET) in a Yuen Long school, I would like to respond to the latest of Rob Leung's salvoes against NETs ('Teachers still able to do extra work', September 25).

I work long hours like many of my local colleagues. I do not complain about my salary nor my workload.

I do not seek extra work after school or on weekends, as both family responsibilities and homework marking preclude my having time to do so.

I also do not think that NETs or local teachers choosing to work outside school hours should be of any concern to Mr Leung.

If he is reading this newspaper, he is no doubt aware of the high cost of education for children in the English Schools Foundation and international schools, which provides an excellent rationale for seeking more employment.

His fixation with NETs and endless emphasis on perceived negatives of the NET scheme often lack a basis in fact and simply appeal to emotions.

Samuel Janus, Yuen Long

Compost machine not the answer

Although the government has adopted a number of policies aimed at protecting the environment, such as a plastic bag levy, there is still a lack of awareness among people of the need to protect the earth.

We face a serious problem with food waste in Hong Kong as the volumes increase. One policy aimed at dealing with this waste is to encourage residential estates to turn waste into compost. Estates can seek funding from the Environment and Conversation Fund, which provides money to enable them to install composting machines ('Beware of 'miracle' waste composters, scientist says', September 19).

I think it would take a long time before these machines became popular and I do not believe they will solve the core problem that we face.

The government should try to get the message across to the public about the need to reduce volumes of food waste. It should use the media, including television, and work with schools. The key to educating the public is to raise their awareness from an early age. If this is not done this vicious cycle will continue.

Hong Kong residents need to understand the facts about food waste and accept their responsibilities to reduce it.

There are periods when the problem is particularly bad, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year. People do not try to work out in advance how much food they will actually need and so a lot of it is dumped in landfills.

Now there are many different kinds of mooncakes and people are often keen to try them out. They find it difficult to exercise self-control and just say no, it is not necessary to buy so much. It is the same when it comes to buying clothes and accessories.

Attitudes must change. People need to learn to ask themselves if they really need the product they intend to purchase.

Natalie Yu, Kowloon City

Porn site a misguided strategy

I refer to the report ('Peta turns to porn to spread the word', September 22).

I cannot understand why an animal rights group would resort to a 'pornographic website to promote its policies'.

Yet People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals does not see anything wrong with this strategy.

I was surprised to read that this is not the first time the group has done something like this, having 'used porn stars' in the past to get its message across.

Obviously this is an attempt to reach a wider audience, but I find it unbelievable that Peta would come up with such a campaign. Its original purpose may be worthy but this distorts the message.

Who will notice the real message about animal rights when viewing pornographic videos and photos showing beautiful women?

One critic of this strategy said there had to be 'other ways to draw attention to their cause'. This nasty campaign is certainly not the right way to attract attention. Peta will alienate mainstream sectors of society. It could damage its reputation as a reliable organisation and be stigmatised as a group which adopts wholly inappropriate tactics.

I do not see what Peta can gain by damaging its reputation.

A pornographic website fill not draw attention to animal rights and so it makes no sense whatsoever.

Ira Li Hoi-ching, Tsuen Wan

Rent rise bad news for opera fans

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) wants to raise the annual rent paid by the non-profit Foundation for Arts and Music in Asia from a nominal fee to HK$370,000 for the New York Metropolitan Opera broadcasts at the Wellcome Theatre on the APA's Bethanie campus.

I have lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. There have been more Western opera performances over that time but opera is still pretty thin on the ground.

I have attended the Metropolitan Opera at the Wellcome theatre several times over the past two years. I have brought along my local Hong Kong friends, some for their very first Western opera, and they very much enjoyed the experience. Tickets for these broadcasts cost only HK$170 and provide an excellent-quality broadcast and great opera. It would be a great pity to lose this opportunity to see and hear the Metropolitan Opera in this truly Hong Kong venue.

To lose the experience simply because of some perceived need to increase revenue for the publicly funded APA would be distressing. Does the APA have another use for the theatre in place of the Metropolitan Opera? I rather doubt it does, but instead it believes it should increase revenue and this seems like an easy way of doing so.

The APA's director, Kevin Thompson, should reconsider this rent rise. He should keep the present arrangement and allow Hong Kong residents to have what is a truly unique Western opera experience available to a wide audience at a competitive cost.

Bill Proudfit, Discovery Bay

Why we need special MTR carriages

I support those people who have called for women-only carriages on the MTR network.

Sexual attacks do take place and some men try various devious methods to avoid detection.

Having this arrangement, with coaches designated for women, will help protect them from such assaults.

Women can be vulnerable on these trains and some might be so scared after an incident that they do not even report it.

Women-only carriages would also protect men from unwarranted accusations.

On overcrowded trains there can be misunderstandings.

A man may come into physical contact with a woman by accident and yet is accused of molesting her when he is actually innocent.

These misunderstandings can be avoided by having the women-only carriages during rush hours.

Annie Lo Yam-kwan, Kowloon City