National education

Letters to the Editor, September 22, 2012

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 3:18am

HK people will resist erosion of their rights

During her tearful interview on Cable TV on September 7, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor seemed perplexed by the attitude of the Hong Kong people towards the government and its officials.

The explanation is fairly straightforward.

Hong Kong people's general mentality is that we work hard, play hard, want to protect our way of living and our resources, and we want the freedom and rights we used to enjoy.

They are bound to resist any policies or actions that threaten these values. The more you hard-sell it, the more the public fights it. Look at how efforts to implement Article 23 turned out. The same thing has happened with national education.

When you consider the incident when a reporter was restrained by police for asking President Hu Jintao a fair question, while he was visiting Hong Kong, you know our society has changed.

Unfortunately, this is not a movement forward - indeed, it's quite the contrary.

Hong Kong people have built a sophisticated society, infrastructure, institutes, financial systems and lifestyles.

We believe we're living proof of the best version of a modern Chinese society - better than the mainland, or Taiwan. If any education is needed, it's the mainlanders who need to learn from us, not the reverse.

Not until the day when Beijing admits the country's painful history including the Cultural Revolution and June 4 massacre, will national education material be considered legitimate.

And as long as our government fails to genuinely put into practice the latter part of "one country, two systems", and fails to propose and implement policies needed for the people of Hong Kong, it will be seen as a puppet administration.

As long as it is regarded in this light, Hong Kong people will not appreciate it or its officials, no matter how hard-working they are.

Dennis Lee, Central


Tone of letter an example of what we fear

I refer to the letter by Pierce Lam ("National education will allow students to question its relevance", September 15).

Ironically, Mr Lam employs learned references from the likes of Mannheim and Shakespeare from the Western academic tradition that he obviously believes has so infected the minds of Hong Kong's young people. But the mask of reasonable academia slips the more he warms to his subject, and we see the real nature of his world view when he says that national education is "the right cure for such infestations" (psychological dependence on Western traditions).

This is the language of the Spanish Inquisition or, dare I say it, the Cultural Revolution, when blind faith was prized above rational thought. He demonstrates precisely the attitudes that people fear.

In the immortal words of Monty Python, "nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition", but thankfully the Hong Kong parents and students who forced the U-turn on national education saw it coming.

Chris White, Sai Ying Pun


HK syllabus already too crowded

I supported calls for the scrapping of moral and national education in schools.

I was concerned about the material being biased and about the resources needed to implement it as a lot of money would have to be spent to train teachers to teach the new subject in the classroom.

I was also worried that, if it was one-sided, what effect it would have on primary schoolchildren.

Hong Kong's school syllabus is already too crowded.

If the government is so keen to promote national education, it could do so by making television programmes on aspects of the nation's culture.

Zita Choi, Kwun Tong


Photographers of Kate were morally wrong

I support the decision of a French court to ban the magazine Closer from further publication of topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge ("Magazine must hand over topless Kate snaps", September 19).

The publication of topless pictures of her a few days earlier has angered the British royal family, and that is what provoked the legal action.

This incident must have brought back memories of photos being taken of Princess Diana after her fatal car crash in Paris. Diana was constantly pursued by the paparazzi so it is understandable that Prince William would be concerned for his wife.

People are naturally curious about the lives of the royal family, but they are entitled to some privacy for the sake of their emotional well-being. I do not accept the argument of the magazine's editor that the photographer did nothing wrong as the duchess was near a public road. What the photographer did was morally wrong.

Despite the court order, the damage is already done. I hope that the duchess is strong enough to deal with the turmoil created by the publication of the pictures.

Caroline Ngan Tung, Tsuen Wan


Violent rallies ruin cause of protesters

I agree with your editorial on the large-scale protests which have been held against Japan on the mainland over the Diaoyu Islands ("Dangerous game of violent protest", September 18).

I appreciate the rising tide of nationalism in China and the support citizens have expressed over sovereignty of the islands. However, protesters should not resort to violence to vent their fury. Such behaviour is absolutely intolerable.

Any targeting of Japanese citizens living on the mainland must be condemned.

Demonstrators must show some composure when expressing their feelings. They must act in a peaceful and sensible manner.

These people should not take their anger out on police officers and government officials who are simply doing their jobs. A demonstration that turns violent loses its meaning and its influence.

I would hate to see disputes with police escalating and having tragic consequences.

A peaceful expression of patriotism by demonstrators who are exercising self-control is far more powerful.

Also, I think on the international stage, the central government should take a tougher stand over its sovereignty claims.

This might temper the behaviour of the mainland protesters on the streets and they might be less indignant.

James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok


No 'through train' at ESF kindergartens

I refer to the letter from P. Butler ("Clarification on ESF entry", September 15) regarding the priority of English Schools Foundation international kindergarten children for entry into ESF primary schools.

There is no "through-train" approach to the admission of children from the kindergartens operated by ESF Educational Services Ltd to ESF primary schools.

Kindergarten children apply for entry in the usual way and are required to pass the English test taken by all applicants.

Kindergarten children do receive priority for interviews after ESF teachers' children, siblings of current ESF students and Nomination Rights applicants.

The ESF board of governors has been reviewing the ESF's admissions policy to respond to the changing needs of the Hong Kong community. Following our usual practice, any changes on the admissions policy will be announced at an appropriate time, well before the application period for children who will be affected.

The current admissions policy will continue to apply to all children who are already in K1 and K2 of ESF international kindergartens, as well as those who are enrolling in October 2012 for K1 to start in August 2013.

Jonathan Straker, head of student support, English Schools Foundation


Loans too easy for problem gamblers

You see a lot of adverts and often get cold calls on your cellphone from financial institutions and banks offering a loan.

It is so easy for citizens to get one. They don't need even to provide salary statements to banks and some ads claim it can take a mere 30 minutes.

This is bad news for problem gamblers. They might have a winning streak, but over time they will lose more than they win.

Despite this, if they are addicted, they will keep spending, whether it be horses or soccer and they get trapped in a vicious cycle.

The key to dealing with this problem is an education campaign by the government. It must get the message across to people who may be experiencing difficulties that their betting habit could end up destroying their families.

Also, the administration needs to put more resources into the provision of counselling services so that it is fairly easy for anyone with a problem to get expert help.

There should also be some regulations governing adverts put out by firms and banks offering easy loans.

Just like a cigarette packet, the ads should carry warnings about gambling addiction.

It should also urge institutions and banks to make it more difficult for people to get loans.

W.H. Chan, Kwun Tong