Letters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 12:00am
 

Number of students not top priority

I would like to address some assertions made in the report ('Arts college lacks students', April 9) concerning the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and to confirm the university's long-term commitment to Hong Kong.

To rely exclusively on enrolment numbers to determine the initial success of an institution of higher learning is misguided and misleading. Recruitment targets are guidelines for growth. They should not deter focus from the underlying mission of SCAD: preparing students for successful creative careers.

The university's distinguished academic programmes, beneficial industry partnerships, cutting-edge facilities and prestigious faculty attract extraordinarily talented students, as well as visiting artists and scholars from around the world.

SCAD will not compromise academic excellence for the sake of numbers.

Based on the university's experience in opening new international locations, we are confident that SCAD enrolment will continue to advance over time. Since its opening in September 2010, enrolment has increased by more than 60 per cent, and we expect this number to grow.

Prior to opening, SCAD Hong Kong received more than 1,000 applications from 47 countries. Because 60 per cent of the SCAD Hong Kong student body is local, and the remaining 40 per cent hails from 19 other countries, the university's development will contribute immeasurably to Hong Kong's cultural and economic landscapes.

A SCAD education is a long-term investment that pays tremendous dividends. The university has awarded more than HK$30 million in student financial aid to help SCAD Hong Kong students achieve their goals.

While other university graduates are facing the highest unemployment rate in a generation, recent SCAD graduates have an employment rate of 85 per cent.

The North Kowloon Magistracy was awarded to the university via the government's Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.

SCAD has invested more than HK$250 million of its own capital in the revitalisation and start-up of the Hong Kong campus. We're proud to report that the restoration received an honour from the 2011 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

SCAD Hong Kong's distinctive educational model will nurture creative talent on a local, regional and global level. Since its inception, SCAD Hong Kong has held more than 150 events, exhibitions, and lectures by visiting scholars, artists and designers - all of which were open to the public. We remain steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the Hong Kong community.

John Paul Rowan, vice-president, SCAD Hong Kong

No chief executive is perfect

There has been much discussion in Hong Kong about the election of Leung Chun-ying as chief executive.

He has his critics, who point to his supposed imperfections. I do not have any political agenda, but I would like to know what these critics mean, given that nobody is perfect.

Mr Leung should be given time to prove himself. Maybe those detractors will be pleasantly surprised.

I think we already have too many people complaining in our society, and they do not achieve anything.

In the interests of Hong Kong, we should throw our support behind C. Y. Leung and his team.

Martha Mak Cho-yi, Sha Tin

Attractions are needed, not just malls

A new attraction, Old Hong Kong, at Ocean Park, is proving popular with citizens, including Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who attended the official opening.

I welcome this addition to the theme park.

It can help Hongkongers to recall their collective memories. For those who lived during this era, the old trams, rickshaws and period architecture will recall for them their childhood years.

Even for younger people, it will give them a sense of identity. Of, course it will also bring additional revenue to Ocean Park.

For years Hong Kong has been dubbed a 'shopper's paradise'. While this is still the case, we have to diversify, as more cities, such as Shanghai, are opening very successful shopping precincts.

We must create more attractions like Old Hong Kong and not just depend upon our well-known shopping malls.

Coolbie Mok Yuen-ting,Cheung Sha Wan

Evidence points to evolution

I refer to the letter by Geoffrey Allen ('Evolution is still just a conjecture', April 11). In making this declaration, your correspondent merely demonstrates an unfortunate lack of scientific training. Isaac Newton's theories do not cease to operate effectively or become invalid just because Albert Einstein showed they cannot describe reality perfectly at the quantum level.

And in suggesting that microorganisms cannot transmit the truth of Charles Darwin's theory, he is scientifically mistaken.

As a matter of fact, many experiences taking far shorter than millions of years demonstrate conclusively the reality of evolution.

Selective breeding in plants and animals, the development of resistance to antibiotics, and changes in fossils over millennia show Darwin got it right.

There remains the question, 'What happened after the Big Bang?'

That science cannot conclusively show there was no godlike creator does not then mean the theory of evolution - scientifically proven and respectable - is incorrect.

It simply means that between God and Darwin, there is no evidence as to who is right in the opening timescale of the universe.

One might, however, fairly conjecture that a theory that can be shown by factual evidence to be correct is more likely to be true than the conjecture, provable only by faith, that God was the creator of the universe.

As to the evidence, God is on Darwin's side.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Property agents must be regulated

I refer to the report ('Ethics guide for property agents is released', March 31).

The guidelines that have been issued by the Independent Commission Against Corruption are voluntary, and therefore I do not think they can provide sufficient protection to people wanting to rent or purchase property in Hong Kong.

Guidelines that are merely voluntary are not backed up by any legislation. Therefore, there is no mechanism in place to monitor or supervise the actions of property agents.

If some agents choose to ignore the book, published in conjunction with industry watchdog the Estate Agents Authority, there is nothing that can be done.

Surely, those agents who already act ethically do not need the guidelines, and unscrupulous individuals will simply ignore them.

Without legislation that carries penalties for misconduct, there is no effective deterrent.

A situation where an agent misleads a potential buyer, for example, cannot be taken lightly.

If these people continue to act with impunity, it will be bad for the Hong Kong property market.

The government needs to back up these guidelines with legislation so the guidelines become regulations that are compulsory.

Cyrus Li, Sha Tin

It's time to rethink peg to US dollar

What is the root cause of the much diminished purchasing power of Hong Kong citizens?

I believe that one essential element is the falling value of our dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar.

The US government engaged in so-called quantitative easing of its economy, and this has already resulted in a nearly 40 per cent depreciation of our currency.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denounced voices from within society calling for the peg to the greenback to be ended. It has not given a sound reason for its opposition.

The underlying truth is our unusually well-paid but apparently irresponsible leaders failed to think deeply about the root cause of social dismay.

They only want to maintain the status quo because that is the golden rule of being a flawless public servant - do nothing and you will not be wrong.

This way of serving the public is definitely not part of the core values of Hong Kong that the chief executive-elect keeps talking about.

It is time to rethink this financial arrangement.

Joseph Lee, Pok Fu Lam

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