Letters to the Editor, August 13, 2012
Do not delay national education
The decision by the government to introduce moral and national education in schools has led to a heated debate between officials and parents.
Thousands of parents took to the streets to protest with their children over the new subject. They are concerned that the material taught will be biased, but I don't think they have anything to worry about.
The aim of national education is to promote the country, raise people's sense of belonging to the nation and develop closer ties between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Parents who are afraid of their children being brainwashed can counter this perceived problem by telling them about things they fear will not be included in the syllabus, such as the June 4 incident in Tiananmen Square.
This will enable students to think critically about the good and bad sides of the country.
There has been a deterioration in the relationship between mainlanders and Hongkongers. If students do not learn more about their country, there could be further misunderstandings and the situation could get worse.
Some students do not even appear to have a good grasp of "one country, two systems".
If they are able to understand this policy, they may have a deeper sense of their identity as Chinese.
There should be no delay in implementing this subject.
It is every government's responsibility to promote national education, and it is every citizen's responsibility to familiarise themselves with national issues. No one will benefit from delaying the introduction of this subject.
The government is having a three-year roll-out period and I think parents should accept it.
If, after its implementation, parents feel that it is clearly biased, they can ask for it to be modified. And if such a request is turned down, that is when it is time for them to take to the streets in protest.
Cress Tam Hoi-ka, Tsuen Wan
Puzzled by opposition to new subject
I have read many negative views on the rolling out of the national education subject.
The most common complaint, it seems, is that it will lead to brainwashing. However, every country, whether it is advanced or backward, has national study courses.
I do not understand why people should think it is not necessary for students to acquire knowledge about their nation.
I imagine the only cities where national education is not taught in schools are in the third world. Resistance to this new subject can only hurt Hong Kong's standing as a Chinese city.
Hong Kong cannot stand isolated as a little island in the middle of the large Chinese sea.
Charles Choy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Blinkered nationalism already exists
All this talk and kerfuffle about introducing national education classes in Hong Kong pales in comparison with the crazed, silly and overhyped patriotism that was conjured up by every country during the London Olympics.
There is little need to introduce national education anywhere when every nation worth its salt already understands how to generate blind fervour amongst its own citizens, and to create hostility to others, every time international sporting events come round.
Square is not in tune with buildings
Will Lai, Western Square is not in tune with buildings
I am pleased that the Beijing authorities are applying for world heritage status for the Beijing Central Axis ("World heritage bid likely to include Mao's tomb", August 4) as it is a masterpiece of urban planning.
However, I was surprised to see that the application will include parts of modern Tiananmen Square. Ming dynasty Beijing was planned according to Zhou dynasty rites (which required a city to have seven successive gates on the central axis before the imperial palace) and was like a classical symphony with four movements.
The area between Yongdingmen and Qianmen was like the first movement. The second movement started with Damingmen behind Qianmen. The Damingmen structure was a moderate one-storey edifice and behind it stood a long and narrow square whose design made the Tiananmen gate look imposing.
From Damingmen, the movement grew to a crescendo, with successive gates becoming more imposing, and climaxed with the majestic Wumen. Unfortunately, in the 1950s, the Damingmen gate and the square were knocked down to make way for the modern Tiananmen Square.
The gigantic square, totally out of proportion with the Central Axis, broke the crescendo effect. Furthermore, the style of most of the buildings around the square clashes with surrounding buildings. Overall, it is like replacing a section of a Mozart symphony with a heavy metal song.
The Beijing authorities should remodel Tiananmen Square so it is in harmony with the rest of the Central Axis before including it in the application.
Ivan Yuen, North Point
Be consistent with squatter hut rules
It is odd that, in Tai Po, the rules regarding squatter huts are enforced, but in Stanley, squatter control officials allowed a new two-storey squatter hut to be built after demolishing the old hut.
The original hut had only three walls (leaning on a neighbouring hut) and a rotten wood roof. The builders were a local couple who already live in a flat in Stanley.
The squatter hut is right on the beach at Stanley, where similar properties sell for over HK$3 million.
There seems to be one set of rules for property owners in Stanley who want more property, and different rules for real squatters in Tai Po.
Annelise Connell, Stanley
Simple way to increase workforce
The Census and Statistics Department report showing there will be fewer workers in Hong Kong in the near future is hardly a surprise. It has been a known fact for decades in all countries with low birth rates.
What could be a solution? Import workers from the mainland? Maybe not, because they have their own problems to deal with.
Importing cheap labour from abroad could be difficult as Hong Kong is small.
As I go around Hong Kong, I see many young women of child-bearing age who are working as domestic helpers. They are denied permanent residency status.
Maybe permanent residency could be granted to domestic workers who qualify and then they could be allowed to raise a family here.
They would then not send their money home but spend it in Hong Kong, and also presumably bear children, thus providing a future workforce. They are already a supply of cheap labour at HK$3,740 per month.
In 2005, then chief secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen called on Hong Kong citizens to have three children, as the problem of low birth rate was recognised then.
This was just after the Indian Ocean tsunami and I did suggest at the time that adopting the many children orphaned by that disaster might also help the situation.
But Hong Kong, like most places in the world, doesn't like "foreigners".
Michael Jenkins, Central
Help India with power problems
Last month's power cuts in India affected more than 600 million people.
Therefore, I urge the UN and the US and its allies to offer to help India do what is necessary to rectify the serious problems it has with its electricity network.
For 50 years, the country has relied on hydroelectric power and nuclear energy to generate electricity for Indians throughout the country. But some people have had a strong sense that there has been corruption involving professionals in the energy sector and this is what led to the collapse of the network over three regional power grids.
It appears that some personnel in charge have turned a blind eye to the need to replace spare parts and purchase more modern equipment from overseas.
With the help of the UN, Washington and other developed nations, we can ensure that the problems with the country's energy sector are solved in the long term.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels