The Hong Kong government has sought since 2007 to introduce "national education" courses into primary and secondary school curriculum, aimed at strengthening students' "national identity awareness" and nurturing patriotism towards China. The programme has met with increasing public opposition in recent years, with many in Hong Kong seeing it as a brainwashing attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress dissent.
Letters to the Editor, October 8, 2012
Disabled can contribute if door is opened
I totally agree with the letter by Stephanie Kwok ("Disabled in society need more help", September 25). Society nowadays does not offer enough opportunities for disabled people, especially regarding employment. If anything, society as a whole discriminates against them and makes them feel as if they do not belong.
Although the government improved the minimum wage legislation, in some cases, a disabled employee is paid less than the minimum wage. This may hurt their chances of employment.
However, some business still do employ disabled people. McDonald's is a good example. When I have lunch at my local McDonald's, I am happy to see disabled employees doing the same things as workers who are healthy, especially interacting with customers.
If McDonald's has taken a good step to tighten the relationship between Hongkongers and disabled people, then the government should certainly encourage more businesses to hire more disabled employees to do the same thing.
If we are to be a happy community, the most important thing is to accept others who are different or special. People often stare at someone who looks different, but we need to open our minds and join more activities in which we can team up with disabled people.
There is still some distance between the disabled and the mainstream community, but I think we can do a lot to close the gap. We should focus on what disabled people can do, not what they can't do. The government needs to lead the way by providing more education and employment opportunities to help them.
Jenny Lim, Central
Class boycotts, hunger strikes not rational
Hong Kong students seem to need courses in rational thinking. In opposition to national education, students went on hunger strikes and held class boycotts. It's certainly one way to express our opinions, but isn't this approach too aggressive and inappropriate?
Hunger strikes can have a detrimental effect on the health of teenagers. They get no nutrition, and their blood sugar gradually decreases. Hypoglycaemia causes coma, damage to the nervous system and other serious health problems. Health cannot be overemphasised; if you're not in good condition, how can you express your point of view on national education or any other issue?
On September 11, thousands of university students met at Chinese University for a class boycott. But teenage years are a time to learn and experience life. I have to agree that a class boycott is itself an experience, and I'm not opposed to learning about life that way, but compared with the knowledge we gain by being in class, it is a waste of time. Don't we have to have enough academic knowledge first before we express our views about the things in life that we want?
Be rational. Think twice. Hunger strikes and class boycotts are not a rational form of protest. Better to express our views in written form to the government and attend classes. We'll gain more knowledge in a perfectly rational way. So, why don't we use what's there?
Tobey Yuen, Tseung Kwan O
Training child soldiers is inexcusable
I was glad to learn that the United Nations will name and shame countries that train children to be soldiers, but why would China, Russia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan abstain in the vote? No one from those countries is quoted in explanation. Don't they think training child soldiers is inhumane?
However, the UN should go beyond just naming and shaming, and set up an investigative team. If a country is found to be training child soldiers, it should be sanctioned.
Kenny Cheung Bok-kit, Tsuen Wan
Sai Kung road infrastructure a low priority
I'm writing to back up the concerns raised by Andrew Mitchell ("It's time transport officials admit Sai Kung's traffic woes", October 5) regarding the diabolical traffic jams in and out of Sai Kung on weekends.
While the Hong Kong government falls over itself to splurge tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars on eye-popping projects like the Hong Kong-to-Zhuhai bridge, a probable third runway at Hong Kong's airport and a high-speed rail link to China, desperately needed grass-roots infrastructure is being completely ignored.
I live in Hebe Haven near Sai Kung town. Because of the traffic on an outdated Hiram's Highway, my family and I often stay at home all day on weekends because simply getting out of our street and joining the traffic queues in either direction can mean four times the normal travel time.
The irony is, it doesn't take a multibillion-dollar vanity project to fix this problem. The main culprit - with or without accidents - is a traffic-light pedestrian crossing at Pak Sha Wan, which is almost constantly red on weekends with day-trippers walking to and from Hebe Haven Pier, getting on and off boats. The lack of simple passing zones to get past right-turning traffic and an antiquated narrow bridge at Ho Chung are also major factors.
There are indeed plans to widen a section of road near Marina Cove, but sadly, this area is just the tip of the iceberg. A great deal more needs to be done - fast.
Unfortunately, the relevant government departments have shown no sign of dealing properly with this worsening problem. In the meantime, local residents feel increasingly trapped on weekends, praying they'll never need an ambulance in a medical emergency.
Andrew Sams, Hebe Haven
Leung's role in Lamma rescue queried
So Chief Executive C.Y. Leung is taking credit for directing the rescue operations of the sea disaster off Lamma Island ("Leung denies Beijing official took charge", October 4)?
Did he really make "the rescue decisions, including giving an instruction to focus the search within the vessel" as reported? If so, this is political grandstanding of the worst sort.
Has he graduated from - or even attended - fire school? Where was he trained in water search and rescue?
Leung needs to leave the rescue decisions to the fire and police professionals who have had years of experience training and preparing for this sort of emergency.
By all means, keep him at the emergency command post, where he can order up strategic resources, but keep him out of the tactical decisions on site.
Bob Carson, Sha Tin
Animosity towards Japan runs too deep
I am afraid I cannot agree with the letter by Lo Wai-kong suggesting co-operation between China and Japan ("Proposal could make Diaoyus a peace model", October 4).
It is incomprehensible to consider only an economic partnership. Animosity between the countries goes back to Japan's invasion of China in 1937. That situation has quite a number of differences compared with the Opium War with Britain, the main ones being that the Opium War lasted much less time than Japan's occupation of China, and the effects weren't as far-reaching.
Japan's reason for invading was to dominate China politically, militarily and economically. They murdered defenceless civilians, raped women and used people to test chemical weapons. China cannot be an economic partner of Japan's, which has refused to apologise for its atrocities.
Taking back control of the Diaoyu Islands is not just about land and resources, but also national dignity and revenge. Maybe in time, the wound can heal, but not now.
Milton Lam, Lam Tin
Proposals for sport facility bookings
I refer to the report by Amy Nip ("New rules target touts who resell facility bookings", September 20).
With the supply of public sports facilities insufficient, people can either book the slots before the touts do, or cave in and buy the slots from them.
Two proposals have been raised: to reduce the pre-booking period from 30 days to 10, and if those who have booked slots repeatedly don't show up to use the facilities, they should be banned from booking for a long period of time.
I have two more proposals: make both selling and buying slots a criminal offence, and empower Leisure and Cultural Services Department staff to check the ID cards of those who are using the facilities against those who booked them.
Iris Leung, Tsuen Wan
Values would find resonance across border
Here we go again with yet another diatribe from Cynthia Sze ("No unfettered free speech in practice", October 2) extolling the virtues of free speech in a pseudo-democracy.
Ms Sze, if you believe so strongly in your motherland's approach to re-educating Hong Kong's "politically disorientated youngsters", why on earth are you living in Hong Kong, and not on the mainland, where your love affair with national education might actually have some resonance?
Ray Peacock, Stanley
Correction: In “Animosity towards Japan runs deep”, a reference to an earlier letter ("Proposal could make Diaoyus a peace model", October 4) incorrectly identified as Mark Ranson as the the writer of the letter.The letter writer should be Lo Wai-kong.