National education in Hong Kong

Letters to the Editor, September 26, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 1:37am

Non-members already let into private clubs

I refer to your editorial ("Better access to sports venues", September 24) which questioned the extent to which the Home Affairs Bureau has responded to the recommendations made by the Ombudsman in his direct investigation of the implementation of the policy on private recreational leases.

As has been widely reported elsewhere in the press, the bureau has already anticipated the Ombudsman's recommendations by improving publicity on the availability of sports facilities at private sports clubs to outside organisations and by putting in place mechanisms to increase the monitoring of the extent to which clubs make their facilities available to schools, social welfare and sports organisations.

While we will require sports clubs to open up their facilities to outside users for a minimum of 50 hours per month, we will also further request private recreational lease holders to open their facilities to a larger extent according to their circumstances.

Such requirements have been made clear to all leaseholders, some of whom have already made their facilities available to non-members for far more than the minimum hours required.

Having stepped up our monitoring of the use of sports facilities at private sports clubs by outside organisations, we will keep the situation under review, with the aim of ensuring that non-members of these clubs have a reasonable degree of access to the facilities in question.

Petty Lai, principal assistant secretary for home affairs


Strong case for national education

I think the implementation of moral and national education is essential for the younger generation, but it should not seek to instil blind patriotism.

It makes no sense to try to persuade students to display uncritical loyalty to their country.

The achievements and advances of China should be taught, but so too should the scandals which have dogged the nation.

Rather than being forced to say "I am proud to be a Chinese", students should be encouraged to look at the good and bad aspects of the nation. They can then talk with pride about their country after having undertaken a realistic evaluation. It is only by analysing the issues and honestly expressing their opinions that they can develop critical thinking skills.

If the new subject is presented in this impartial way in the classroom, then I think it could be worthwhile.

Being Chinese, Hongkongers should try to acquire a deeper understanding of their country. It is difficult to oppose such a course if is taught fairly and students can come away with positive values.

However, I do not think it needs to be taught as a separate subject, as it already overlaps with subjects like Chinese history and civil education.

It can be incorporated in these courses in the school curriculum.

This will still achieve the objectives of those people who have supported its implementation.

By combining it with existing subjects where there is an overlap, it can be taught more effectively in schools.

I think in all the debates on this issue, it was clear that the public view was about the need for impartiality, rather than outright opposition to any moral and national education being introduced.

The government must accept the views that have been expressed and give careful thought to the subject matter that will be taught.

It must ensure that a syllabus is presented that is satisfactory to parents and pupils and that is not biased in any way.

If the course is formulated in this way, then I think it could eventually be implemented in schools without strong opposition.

Leung Yuen-sze, Tsuen Wan


Spending limit needed at pharmacies

I refer to the report ("Prices soar in bulk-buying frenzy", September 17).

Prices are rising in shops in and around Sheung Shui, as mainlanders cross the border and bulk-buy products in shops.

Some buy merchandise for their own use, but many sell it on when they return to the mainland for a profit.

Obviously, what has happened has been a source of discontent among local residents who are faced with these rising prices of basic commodities.

The government can solve the problems created by this trade and the anger it is causing by establishing regulations restricting sales.

It should set up restrictions which do not allow mainland visitors to spend more than HK$500 in a pharmacy.

A single bureau could be given the task of introducing the new rules and ensuring they are implemented and adhered to by mainlanders in Sheung Shui shops.

Staff in pharmacies must also act responsibly to try to contain price rises.

As your article pointed out, one mother revealed that some shops would only serve mainland visitors.

Shops must not be allowed to do this. Indeed, they should be forced to give priority to Hong Kong citizens at the counter.

This is the only way in which high price rises can be contained in the area.

If the government does not take appropriate measures to deal with the problem in Sheung Shui, there will be more demonstrations by Hong Kong citizens, similar to anti- Japanese protests [over the Diaoyu Islands].

Michelle Lee Sze-mei, Kwai Chung


Mainstream schools not set up for disabled

Access can be a problem at some mainstream schools for disabled pupils wanting to study there.

They also might have special learning needs which cannot be provided in such a school because there is insufficient manpower or the school does not have suitable learning material.

However, these schools must make the necessary changes for disabled youngsters who want to study there. If it comes down to a lack of funding, then the government must make more money available.

Not enough is being done to help the disabled in school and in the workplace in Hong Kong.

It is an international city and therefore should ensure disabled citizens enjoy equal opportunities in all walks of life. I feel that too often disabled people are treated unfairly.

Disabled citizens suffer from discrimination in schools, offices, even on the city's streets. Given that China is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, legislation is needed in the city which will promote the teaching of disabled children in mainstream schools.

Ceci Lam, Tsuen Wan


Why wait till 2014 to curb the touts?

Once again, we have an example of the lack of proactiveness and extremely slow response time from a government department.

The report ("New rules target touts who resell facility bookings", September 20) highlighted a serious misuse of public facilities.

In its response, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department mentioned that proposed new measures would be implemented in 2014. No actual date was mentioned.

Would the relevant spokesperson care to explain why any new measures cannot be implemented sooner?

As your report pointed out, Hong Kong legislators first highlighted this issue to the department in 2011.

David Lai, Tsim Sha Tsui