National education in Hong Kong

Letters to the Editor, September 10, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 2:04am

Appalled by treatment at Football Club

My wife and I along with our three young daughters were invited to lunch at the Hong Kong Football Club on Friday, August 31, by a club member.

Shortly after starting lunch at The Coffee Shop, next to the pool, my eldest daughter said she wanted to swim.

The club member signed my wife and daughter into the pool area as guests. Shortly afterwards, with my daughter in the children's pool, a nearby pool attendant summoned club security and they began talking while staring at my wife, who is from the Philippines.

My wife asked if there was a problem and she was asked if she was a helper. She said she was a guest, but the security guard insisted she was a domestic helper signed in as a guest.

She was told they all needed to leave the pool area to sort out the matter with our friend, the club member.

My wife felt embarrassed and humiliated, and when I joined her, club staff realised their mistake and left her alone.

The incident, which reduced her to tears, clearly happened because she was a Filipina and staff assumed she could only be there as a domestic helper. This was a clear case of discrimination.

After my wife composed herself, we agreed she would finish her lunch and later we would meet at the football pitch where I was going with two of my daughters.

She never appeared. I found her at the entrance of the club. She had walked out briefly to get a taxi for one of our daughters and our domestic helper. This was clearly seen by the security guard, but on returning to the club she wasn't allowed in. She was accompanied by the guard to reception and told again she couldn't go in.

When I turned up, I was told it was just another "misunderstanding".

I firmly believe that it is only by publicly condemning the kind of behaviour my family experienced at this club that we can hope to get rid of it from our society.

Timothy Begley, Hung Hom


MTR can only do so much during storm

I refer to the letters by Graeme J. Still ("MTR should not be expected to provide rations during storm", September 4) and Kendrew Wong, of the MTR Corporation ("Emergency supplies for MTR passengers during typhoon", September 6).

I fully concur with Mr Still's views. In a fair society, we have to consider the well-being (including safety) of those who are serving, and those being served.

A city hit by a typhoon is a perilous place, and all responsible persons have to take good care of themselves by staying in a place which is safe.

Train and bus drivers are subject to exposure to the natural elements when they operate under a typhoon signal. They deserve the same care as the passengers.

In the case of Severe Typhoon Vicente, people were given more than a "reasonable" length of time to get home. If we expect the MTR service to keep working [after higher typhoon signals are raised], who will ensure the safety of train and station staff?

It may be fair to expect the MTR to offer shelter to stranded passengers, but to also ask that it provides rations is over the top. Does anyone care about the safety of the staff of convenience stores which stay open, or the people that are delivering these provisions to stranded passengers?

We must understand the cause of any inconvenience from a typhoon is Mother Nature, not the MTR Corporation. It is not reasonable to ask it to provide any support beyond shelter, toilet facilities and water.

Dennis Li, Mid-Levels


We must have defibrillator at all public pools

I witnessed the tragic death of a 58-year-old man at the cross-harbour swimming trials on the morning of September 2 ("Man dies during trial for cross-harbour swim", September 3).

I keep wondering why a defibrillator was not used by the lifeguards who frantically performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) after rescuing him from Tung Chung swimming pool.

Might a defibrillator have helped in their resuscitation efforts? Why is it not standard equipment at public pools across Hong Kong, especially one that is chosen as the venue for the cross-harbour swimming trials?

With an ageing population and a surge in the number of applicants wanting to participate in this swim, it is high time defibrillators were fitted at all public pools in Hong Kong as they are in other cities.

Tshung Chang, North Point


Legco election spam so annoying

I became absolutely fed up with the amount of spam being sent to my e-mail and home addresses by Legislative Council election candidates, at least some of whom continued to do so after being asked to stop.

Quite frankly, it is disappointing that so many candidates, and the Hong Kong SAR government, failed to show the level of respect for our personal data that is required of the private sector.

I would urge the Registration and Electoral Office to stop releasing voters' personal information to electoral candidates. Our personal data was provided for the purpose of enabling us to vote, not so that candidates could send us their spam.

I would also urge the privacy commissioner to investigate this widespread misuse of personal data.

Simon Berry, Pok Fu Lam


Bookstores in city are uninspiring

Some of your correspondents' have welcomed the 24-hour opening trial run operated by the Hysan Place branch of the Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite.

They see it as a chance for late-night bookworms to find a place where they can relax for a while and forget all their troubles.

This initiative seems to be inspiring other entrepreneurs to open bookstores in malls in other places such as Kwun Tong and Sheung Shui.

However, given Hong Kong's high rents and labour costs, some of these businesses will not last.

Actually, I find the business model of Hong Kong bookstores a bit tired compared with some of the mega stores in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.

I used to go to one in Beijing and spend the whole afternoon reading English books which had been photocopied.

My time flies by in these places, but I don't get the same feeling in Hong Kong's book stores.

Also, I don't think late-night reading in stores will prove too popular with many people as it will be exhausting.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling


Long wait at airport for Lantau taxi

Is it possible for the Transport Department and the relevant taxi associations, to urgently reconsider the taxi availability situation at Hong Kong Airport, particularly on weekends, where it is nearly impossible to get a blue Lantau taxi?

I believe there are only 50 blue taxis licensed and they are usually busy elsewhere on Lantau.

It is very unpleasant waiting for a very long time, in the summer heat and humidity, for a taxi to arrive, and when you cannot get through to a despatcher.

If you decide to try Plan B, it is annoying to have to endure an often angry "discussion" with a red taxi, as the driver does not want to take you only to Tung Chung.

While I understand their situation, as a taxpayer, I also want to get home, without becoming a dripping puddle in the queue, waiting for a taxi to come.

Is it possible to allow the green taxis to take fares on weekends only to Lantau, for a trial period, as they seem to be underutilised?

I know a permit is required to drive in certain parts of the island, but something needs to be done to remedy this unsatisfactory situation.

Peter Hay, Tung Chung


Stick to the original aims of subject

The Education Bureau's argument in favour of national education is that its aim is to develop students' ability to analyse and judge issues relating to the country from different angles.

Opponents say teaching resources available to not achieve this aim and that there is bias in favour of the central government.

They argue it is difficult for students to judge what is right and wrong with regard to a particular issue if they are not presented with all the facts.

Beijing supports the subject because teenagers nowadays do not know much about China and do not have a sense of belonging to the nation. But the course is of little use if the flaws of that government are concealed. Surely, the original aim of this subject is not blind adoration of the nation.

Integrity is as important in a government as it is in an individual. If a government wants the support of its people, it needs to be truthful. Even if it has not performed well, people might still stand by it if it tells the truth without reservation.

I believe national education could enjoy much more support if it was made clear that all the facts relating to China and its leaders would be open to discussion.

Students would be willing then to analyse all aspects of an issue and the aim of the subject - to develop their critical thinking faculties - could ultimately be achieved.

Katherine Siu, Kwai Chung