Letters to the Editor, October 28, 2012
Hypocritical views on mainlanders
I find it somewhat shameful to see both Hong Kong Chinese and expatriates using the word "mainlander" in similar vein to the word "vermin".
Yes, there are problems created by large numbers of visitors from across the border but much of this can be attributed to supply and demand, the greed of landlords or market forces depending on one's particular bias. Those who advocate that the Hong Kong government should place restrictions on the flow of Chinese tourists into the city need to take a step back and reflect on their xenophobic views.
For decades, the vast majority of our neighbours on the mainland were unable to travel outside their own country without official permission and, in some cases, their travel was restricted within China itself. In fact, the hukou system still ensures that Chinese citizens from one part of the country are unable to enjoy the same rights in another.
Today, the situation is much improved but for many citizens of the People's Republic, travel outside China remains a dream or a bureaucratic nightmare at best.
It should be remembered that aside from tourists, many visitors from the mainland are much-loved family members, friends, or boyfriends/girlfriends of Hong Kong residents. For most of these people, the restrictions placed on their right to enter and stay in Hong Kong are already draconian. Thus, meaningful relationships become unviable and people on both sides of the border are limited in the time they can spend with people they care about.
In Hong Kong we pride ourselves on carrying the banners of democracy and freedom for the whole of China; we supposedly cherish our "core values" and like to believe that Hong Kong is the conscience of China.
Yet within this same self-righteous population there are those who are all too quick to demand that our neighbours have their new-found and fairly modest freedoms curtailed by our own Hong Kong government. The stench of hypocrisy is sickening.
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung
No excuse for fires during festival
There were many reports of hillside fires across Hong Kong on Tuesday, mainly in the New Territories, during Chung Yeung Festival. It seems as if plumes of black smoke and circling helicopters are an essential part of the festivities.
Hill fires may indeed be "common", but on this scale and with this regularity they are certainly not natural, normal or acceptable in a modern city.
There are government departments tasked with protecting Hong Kong's fragile environment, and the Forests and Countryside Ordinance makes the illegality of negligent fire-lighting absolutely clear. Lighting a fire when there is a red fire warning is doubly negligent.
Respect is due to members of the Conservancy Association, who were giving out flowers to cemetery-goers to discourage them from burning offerings.
One wonders, however, why the relevant authorities cannot do their part by prosecuting more people, or at least finding better solutions than ritually sending out the helicopters.
Andrew Sewell, Tuen Mun
Knowing emergency drill saves lives
I refer to the letter by Vanessa Ng ("Government can learn from tragedy", October 16) regarding the ferry disaster off Lamma Island on October 1.
I feel one of the problems connected with maritime accidents is that passengers are not given sufficient or clean information about what to do in an emergency.
To enhance maritime safety, passengers must be given clear instructions by crew members before a vessel sets sail.
While keeping a check on all life-saving facilities on board is very important, it is of little use if no one knows how to use them except for the captain and the other crew members.
Ferry companies must ensure that there is clear information prominently displayed on board so that passengers know how to properly use the equipment provided.
I also would like to praise the emergency services in Hong Kong and their swift reaction when the vessels collided during the National Day holiday.
Some rescue teams arrived only minutes after the collision. Their search-and-rescue operation were undertaken with great efficiency.
Although the situation was chaotic, those people responsible for the rescue efforts worked together and there was close co-operation.
Hong Kong people came together in the face of this tragedy and this is admirable.
However, as I said, with regard to maritime safety, there are lessons to be learned from what happened.
Maggie Law Wing-yi, Kwai Chung
Additional school day makes sense
How bizarre it is that French children and parents have such big problems with the proposed added school day, while the rest of the world goes to school five days a week.
I agree with French President Francois Hollande that a five-day school week would benefit the children. A choice for parents would be to send their children to leisure centres after school each day.
Would it not be better for the children to have more days but fewer hours?
Any logical person would agree that it is the more sensible path to take.
For the sake of the next generation of French, I greatly encourage France to choose to include Wednesdays in the school week.
It's about time that they woke up and joined the real world.
Jonathan Cheng, Tai Tam
Careful study of small classes required
The Professional Teachers' Union has pointed out that our education system is at risk.
The expected number of students eligible to enrol in secondary schools will fall by more than 5,000 next year.
The union advocates small- class teaching. While I have always supported small classes, I wonder if our educational system is ready for it.
Small-class teaching has been in force in some primary schools for a number of years, but the improvements in teaching and learning quality have been insignificant.
In fact, primary schools with more than 30 students in each class seems to have better academic results.
According to Education Bureau 2003 and 2004, among the top 10 per cent of primary schools, 83 per cent had classes with 32 more students.
The government should consider this matter carefully to ensure that resources spent on implementing small-class teaching can raise teaching efficiency. High-quality education is what matters most.
Lun Cheuk-yin, Sha Tin
Segregated carriages are effective
One of my friends was sexually harassed on the MTR when she was a middle school student.
She felt too shy and embarrassed to shout or ask for help.
During the rush hour it is very chaotic on the MTR network with so many people and it is hard not to sometimes come into contact with another person. Obviously perverts take advantage of the overcrowding.
Many young women travelling on the trains are white-collar workers who work long hours and have to travel alone late in the evening. Also many female students have to take the MTR on their own if they have been attending tutorial classes and extracurricular activities. They are prime targets for sexual predators.
Setting up woman-only carriages can help them to have a safe trip instead of them having to worry all the time. There must be dozens of cases of women and girls who are too embarrassed or scared to ask for help.
A number of places including Japan, Taiwan and Mexico have women-only carriages or women-only waiting sections on platforms. Why does Hong Kong not have such facilities? Is the safety of woman not considered to be an important issue here?
Catherine Fung, Sha Tin
Designate compartments just for men
With the female commuters outnumbering their male counterpart (let's face it, men are losing their edge to women in the career market), why not introduce men-only carriages to MTR?
It should be a lot easier to pack the minority into a few designated carriages.
Then we men would be able to commute without the fear of pushing into female bodies (reluctantly or not) at the worst times of the day.
O. Wong, Tai Hang
Suicides are acts of desperation
As reported in the press recently, more Tibetans have died due to self-immolation.
The official Chinese Communist Party response is that these people did this at the behest of the "Dalai Lama clique".
Does the party seriously believe that it is so easy to command people to commit suicide?
This is an act of desperation from an occupied people who feel the world has abandoned them.
Respect, and not flippant remarks are due.
Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui