No wait for schools in other cities
I was fascinated by the report ('6-month wait for place in school', February 24) that stated more than '70 per cent of applicants to international schools have waited less than six months before being admitted'.
The article said this alarming statistic would 'reinforce the government position that there is no serious shortage of international school places'.
First, we must notice the obvious fact that this means 30 per cent of applicants had to wait more than six months - almost an entire school year - for their children to attend school.
Much more important, however, is that no responsible parent or employer would be likely to take that chance. In deciding where to move their family or their business, those who are making this decision will opt for venues where the children are quite likely to be able to choose from several appropriate schools rather than a city where their children must face long waiting lists and no options.
In declaring to the international community that children coming to Hong Kong 'might' get into school within about six months, we are placing ourselves at a serious competitive disadvantage to Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok or other places in Asia.
In those cities, the children of international businesspeople are given a wealth of educational opportunities and choices.
Jadis Blurton, principal, The Harbour School
Nurses need professional dignity
I refer to the letters of Melody Wong Wing-fong ('Shortage problem can be solved', February 23) and Isabel Escoda ('Hire nurses from the Philippines', February 23).
Ms Wong rightly notes the importance of moral education in our nurses' training.
To discharge their duties well, health care personnel need professional dignity and a socially relevant self-image.
Since Hong Kong's reunion with China, we have been proudly committed to full decolonisation within the Basic Law's 50-year term.
We don't want Filipino nurses if they, like Ms Escoda, are besieged by a colonial malaise of self-doubt.
Instead of showing us why the professional quality of Filipino nurses is reliable, she diverts attention to her doubt about whether the Filipinos could have been better educated if their nation had been colonised by Britain and not the US. We mustn't suffer such servitude in our health care professionals.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay
Grateful to Filipinos who nursed dad
Isabel Escoda suggests that Hong Kong should recruit nurses from the Philippines ('Hire nurses from the Philippines', February 23).
In 2006, when my late father underwent serious surgery in Leeds General Infirmary in England, he was looked after by several nurses, some of whom were from the Philippines.
I remember with gratitude the deep care and affection shown to him by the Filipino intensive care nurse as he lay unconscious after his surgery.
His own observations were that the Filipino nurses were 'lovely people' who did a 'great job' and 'they can't half sing'.
If Britain's National Health Service thinks nurses from the Philippines have what it takes, then surely they have what it takes to work in Hong Kong.
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung
Officials can't hold a candle to the British
People who find strange and bizarre the behaviour of top officials in the Hong Kong government are not acquainted with the past of this former British colony.
In fact, there have been numerous incidents involving top officials since the British arrived in 1841.
Just consider the 10-year period between 1845 and 1855, when a chief justice was sacked for drunkenness, a registrar general was dismissed, accused of associating with pirates, and an attorney general was removed for bad-mouthing colleagues.
Governor Sir John Bowring was accused of awarding too many contracts to Jardine Matheson, where his son was one of the directors.
Later in the 19th century, governor Sir John Pope Hennessy attacked the leader of the Bar with an umbrella - and in the victim's words, 'with a fury quite inconceivable'.
In 1938, Wing Commander A.H.S. Steele-Perkins arrived in Hong Kong with the task of improving its air defences. He struck up a deep friendship with a certain Mimi Lau. Coincidentally, Miss Lau was in charge of a company that supplied concrete blocks for air defence shelters. Those blocks soon appeared to be extremely expensive and substandard. There was an inquiry, but Steele-Perkins was never charged with any offence.
Up to the 1960s, when a building collapsed, people used to say that perhaps it was built using Mimi Lau's blocks.
It is not surprising that W. Somerset Maugham set in Hong Kong his novel about adultery, The Painted Veil, around the figure of a foolish but good-looking colonial secretary.
Angelo Paratico, Sheung Wan
SFC's review a step in right direction
I am cautiously optimistic about the Securities and Futures Commission's decision to review regulations for professional investors.
While brokers want to promote rewarding trades to clients, the SFC must give investors grounds to invest from that cover existing loopholes. This ultimately protects the SFC and brokers. Brokers should not rely on offering clients products they themselves would not invest in with their hard-earned money.
The 'think twice before you invest' regime is needed for clients who may qualify as professionals but are obviously not professional enough. It is fair for Hong Kong to adopt policies similar to those of leading international regulators.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
Make use of empty old factories
I totally agree with Ron Adrianse ('A new life for old industrial buildings?', February 24) that the government should make good use of the many abandoned factories in Hong Kong.
In October, the chief executive announced a project that will turn Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong, as part of Kowloon East, into the second central business district.
This area is full of empty factories. The industrial sector's contribution to gross domestic product has dropped since business moved production lines to the mainland because of lower operating costs.
Allowing these empty factories to be left unused does nothing to help the economy and exacerbates the problems we have with an acute land shortage.
Some immoral owners have exploited this state of affairs by turning empty buildings into illegal subdivided flats for people on low incomes.
It is high time that the government brought life back to empty industrial buildings by applying the 3Rs principle - rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal.
It may be argued that it is cheaper to utilise land in the New Territories or reclaim land from the sea for further development.
However, we have to consider the cost to Hong Kong's environment, a cost that would be substantial and that we can ill afford.
The government should take the bolder step of acting now and using these abandoned factories.
Dennis Lee Ying-hui, Sheung Shui
Lady Gaga given too little credit
I think that Alex Lo's somewhat cynical take on the Lady Gaga pop cultural phenomenon ('Lady Gaga's claws milk the zeitgeist', February 28) was a bit premature, if not uninformed.
On Thursday, I listened to Lady Gaga, who was speaking at Harvard University, where she and her mother were hosting the inaugural event of her Born This Way Foundation.
According to the foundation's website, it was 'founded in 2011 to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world.'
It seems that her ultimate goal is not to milk but to mobilise the zeitgeist into socially aware young global citizens taking 'the first step toward creating an accepting, loving, and inclusive world'.
I say more power to her and all of her 'little monsters'.
Craig B. McKee, Tseung Kwan O