National education in Hong Kong

Letters to the Editor, October 15, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 1:53am

Residents of Tai Po do want a beach

I refer to the story by Joyce Ng "Call to scrap 'white elephant' beach" (October 11).

After reading Dr Ng Cho-nam's comments that there has been no survey to gauge public demand for a man-made beach at Plover Cove, I've concluded that he has probably never gone to a beach in Hong Kong on a weekend. I also assume he probably hasn't been to Tai Mei Tuk on a weekend, either.

The article also mentions the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong collected 5,000 signatures of support from residents; this seems to look like a bit of public demand. Apart from all the environmental issues that have been raised regarding this stretch of waterfront, creating a beach for the use of New Territories residents is a no-brainer.

I've lived in Tai Po for 18 years, and when I want to take my family to the beach the nearest sandy beach is in Sai Kung or on Hong Kong island. The whole of New Territories East could frankly do with a few beaches - possibly in Ma On Shan and along Sai Sha Road.

The government seems to have had no problems reclaiming almost all the waterfront on Tolo Harbour to sell to developers for luxury flats and build highways, but is balking at going ahead with this project, which would serve the greater public. Most of the beach-going public are the people who don't have the luxury of going to the clubhouse on the weekends.

It's not a "white elephant" to me, not to the 300,000-plus residents of Tai Po.

John Laudon, Tai Po


Hong Kong has much to offer mainland

I refer to the letter by Alex Chan ("Self-righteous stance lowers tone of debate", October 11).

He disparages the fact that only 100,000 people turned out to protest. This does not include those who were in agreement with the protesters but did not actively take part.

He also refers to "the opportunities that China has made possible" for expatriates in Hong Kong. He and other correspondents who appear to be supporters of mainland rule seem to think that Hong Kong did not exist, let alone thrive, prior to the handover in 1997.

It is true that while Hong Kong's recent prosperity has been built on its proximity to China, much of that prosperity was driven by mainland people who fled communism, not by the central government's generosity or influence. The need for each other is mutual. Without Hong Kong, it would be more difficult for the corrupt officials in the central government and in the People's Liberation Army to launder their ill-gotten gains. Hong Kong gains from the influx of this money.

I am sure that China would benefit greatly by following Hong Kong's lead in free movement of capital, freedom of speech and an independent judiciary. The goal for China should be for it to be more like Hong Kong - even with its limited voting rights - rather than turning Hong Kong into just another corruption-ridden, Communist Party-controlled city.

Michael Jenkins, Central


Disabled children merit compassion

The rights of the disabled are largely disregarded by people in today's society. Sadly, many of them have suffered from humiliation and prejudice.

Little has been said, however, about disabled children, who also have difficulties integrating into their communities. Schools sometimes lack the resources to educate and care for these children and, unfortunately, there are few teachers willing to teach disabled children, as doing so often requires more time and effort. What's more, it's difficult for teachers to convince disabled students that, in many ways, they are no different from anyone else.

To address these issues, the government should put more resources into special schools and train more teachers so that these children can have better education. This would be a boost for the parents, who could be assured these schools will care about their children.

As well-educated citizens, we need to respect people with disabilities and try to include them in mainstream society by doing things like offering our seats to them on public transport and not staring at them. If we could treat them as normal people and not make them feel self-conscious, Hong Kong can become a model city.

Chris Chan Kwun-chuen, Tsuen Wan


Protests had method to their 'madness'

I don't quite agree with Tobey Yuen's view on the acts of the students protesting against national education ("Class boycotts, hunger strikes not rational", October 8).

I can't deny that boycotting classes and fasting are a bit irrational, but this is a conscientious objection on national education. Boycotting classes is a way of saying no to the course. Hunger strikes are an act that raises public awareness, alerting the government to the students' determination to reject this addition to the curriculum.

The time used to do these acts was not wasted. If the students had not done so, the government would not have heard their voice and citizens may never have known how seriously the students take this brainwashing programme.

Yuen wrote that hunger strikes poses health problems, and because they are irrational, they should be stopped. Of course, the health conditions of the students may have suffered because of this, but no one told them to fast for a prolonged period. They could have taken turns fasting.

Yuen also said the students could have expressed their views in written form. I don't think the government would have been as sensitive to written opinions, and the public wouldn't have known how much they opposed the course.

Jack Mak Sui-hin, Lam Tin


International school closing short-sighted

The Hong Kong government's plan to close the International Montessori School in Tin Hau and replace it with a youth hostel is extremely short-sighted.

Hong Kong is already losing out to Singapore and Shanghai because both of these cities have much higher air quality and more student places available at international schools than in Hong Kong - which are obviously big factors for large international companies when they consider relocating or expanding in Asia. I know of many expat families who are moving to Singapore for exactly these reasons.

If the government goes ahead with this current plan, I will start telling my expat colleagues who are considering moving here with their families to forget it and go someplace else more hospitable.

Karen Bergan, Wan Chai


City also has many helpful, honest cabbies

In response to Paul Surtees' letter ("Train city's taxi drivers to give better customer service", October 12), it is important to note that many of Hong Kong's taxi drivers are both helpful and honest. In almost seven years of living in this city, my family and I have had many positive experiences and the requisite few less-than-stellar experiences. Quite incredibly, we have had the purse of a visitor returned to our home, all contents intact. We have had an Octopus Card with our son's name and address on the case returned, fully charged.

Any industry can always improve its customer service, and this one should strive to do so. Certainly, blatantly dishonest conduct should be appropriately punished. Please, however, don't promote the concept that all drivers are dishonest. It is simply not the case.

Andrea Herz, Mid-Levels


Options to letting Beijing interpret law

I am writing to express my view on the speech made by the former secretary of justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie on the city's legal challenges since the handover. I think the speech may hinder the rule of law and the judicial independence in Hong Kong.

In the talk, Ms Leung blamed the legal profession, including judges in Hong Kong, for having a poor understanding of the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government. She went on suggest that, in the matter of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong, seeking an interpretation of the Basic Law from the National People's Congress Standing Committee would be the preferred idea.

The common law system of Hong Kong gives the judiciary the right to interpret legislation by common law doctrine free from outside influence. This philosophy ensures judicial impartiality and independence - the cornerstone of Hong Kong's success - and it should not be deviated from regardless of the ties between Hong Kong and the central government.

I believe there are options besides seeking an interpretation from the NPC Standing Committee. One is to ask the Court of Final Appeal to reconsider its decision in the case of Director of Immigration vs Chong Fung-yuen. Another might be legislation to deny mainland babies the right of abode under certain circumstances, which is a method that has worked well in some Western countries.

I thank the Bar Association and the Law Society for issuing the press release to explain their stance and pointing out problems with Ms Leung's speech. After causing such huge controversy, Ms Leung should take the responsibility to clarify what she really meant in the speech and apologise if necessary.

Kenneth Tsang, Tin Shui Wai