ESF - English Schools Foundation

Letters to the Editor, November 9, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 3:13am

Turn this tide of gambling addiction

More casinos are opening up in Macau. It has evolved over a few decades from being a small colonial city to a major centre of gambling.

The main reason these casinos have decided to launch operations there is because they want to benefit from China having the world's second largest economy.

It certainly is working, given the large number of Chinese customers who go there to try their luck. This has also helped the city's economy, which is booming. However, there is a downside, with an increasing number of people becoming addicted to gambling.

They wrongly believe they will win a great deal of money, get hooked and find they are gambling day and night. Youngsters are particularly vulnerable, which is why I support the new law which bans people under the age of 21 from entering casinos.

This law is necessary because some young people are not mature enough to deal with the temptations they will face at the gaming tables.

I would like to see the government trying to do more to curb the rising tide of gambling addiction.

The key is education, making teenagers aware of the dangers of gambling addiction.

Also, the Macau authorities must work with the casinos and ensure the ban is fully enforced. There must be stiff punishments for those operators that fail to comply with the under-21 rule.

W.H. Chan, Kwun Tong

Tie Burma's aid to the fate of its Rohingya

I refer to the article by Sreeram Chaulia about the situation of the Rohingya in Burma ("Common humanity the basis for resolution to ethnic clash", November 1).

I understand there are many Burmese who do not want this group of people living in the country. They have many reasons for holding these opinions but I do not want to debate these issues.

However, what do they expect the Rohingya to do, since the country the offended majority wants them to return to doesn't want to receive them? Do the Burmese just want them to commit mass suicide by marching into the sea?

My solution is relatively simple.

Western nations which give aid to Burma should offer Bangladesh the necessary funds to accept and resettle this community. And they should make it clear to everyone, especially the Burmese government, that these funds will be directly subtracted from the total that has been targeted for aid to Burma.

Ken Stevens, Macau 

No easy way to stop sudden glass breakage

I refer to recent articles concerning spontaneous breakage of glass used in construction at some residential buildings and the safety concerns of tenants.

Nickel sulphide inclusion in tempered glass is suspected to be the cause of the spontaneous breakage.

Nickel and sulphide are the two minor elements which exist in the bulb of the soda lime-silicate substrate. They transform to nickel sulphide (NiS) crystal during the melting process to form the glass body. This NiS will not cause any breakage when glass is annealed, or slowly cooled. The crystal will undergo phase transformation, however, when hot glass is quickly cooled, or tempered.

Tempered glass, when made, will be about three times stronger and have higher thermal resistance than annealed glass and this is why, in recent years, it has been selected to meet the requirements of larger glass panel designs for residential buildings.

NiS exists in tempered glass. Its physical stage transforms with time and expands after manufacture and this may cause spontaneous breakage of the glass panel. When tempered glass breaks due to NiS, it shatters. Small fragments will mostly pack against each other and stay within the window frame unless external forces push the fragments away from the panel.

There is no easy way to totally remove the risk of spontaneous breakage due to NiS inclusion in tempered glass with the current glass manufacturing technology. A standard practice was developed in Europe, called a heat-soaked test, for thermally toughened glass. It aims to accelerate the phase-change of the tempered glass in the factory and let the glass break if there is NiS inclusion in the glass body before delivery to the site for installation.

A heat-soaked test for tempered glass was introduced in Hong Kong in 2006 to reduce the risk of spontaneous breakage of tempered glass if NiS is present. With tempered glass that has undergone a heat-soaked test in a factory, there is less probability of spontaneous breakage due to NiS inclusion. But there is still a small percentage of breakage after the test.

Minimising the use of tempered glass in the design of residential windows or substituting it with other glass types, such as heat-strengthened or laminated glass, will help reduce the NiS problem, but they do not possess all the characteristics of tempered glass.

Albert Leung, technical director, technical sub-committee, Hong Kong Facade Association

Please educate inconsiderate concert-goers

I am pleased to note that in the past 15 years I have lived in Hong Kong and attended the Philharmonic Orchestra's concerts, audience members have learned to switch off their mobile phones and not to applaud in the breaks between the music movements. However, it seems that the orchestra has more work to do in educating its audience.

I have long since given up sitting in the rear stalls as these seats are invariably filled by students who talk throughout a performance, but recently I find that thoughtless, selfish audience members are also seated in the front of the rear stalls.

A month ago, a teenage schoolgirl next to me repeatedly removed and replaced her water bottle from her nylon bag, which made scratchy noises, until I asked her not to.

But Tuesday night was a first. The woman sitting next to me conversed with her daughter throughout the concert and fiddled with her bag. I had asked her not to talk at the beginning of the first piece but this had no effect. Finally in the break between the third and fourth pieces, I threatened to have her thrown out. To my amazement, she replied that her daughter asked her questions, to which she needed to reply.

Clearly, despite the fact that she spoke good English, she had no comprehension of considerate behaviour appropriate to an audience member.

I wonder if the concert programme might in future contain specific instructions for the benefit of ignorant audience members such as this one.

Valerie Wilson, Central

Cost no bar to top education in English

I refer to Amanda Chapman's letter ("Why ESF cannot adopt local system", November 7). It illustrates some expatriates' prejudice and ignorance about Hong Kong.

She said she would be leaving because she couldn't afford the high cost of education here. I wish to correct some of her factual errors so expats like her won't be spreading disinformation about our city after they leave.

English-language education neither has been, nor will be, "the privilege of the moneyed elite". Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, former Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam Chi-kwong and innumerable social leaders like them all came from average and not "moneyed elite" families. Nowadays, children with backgrounds similar to theirs are receiving the same kind of excellent English-language education in local schools.

"International system" is a misleading label. Graduates of the International Baccalaureate (IB) and public schools go to the same universities. The pompous differentiation between "international" and national schools is affected.

Hong Kong has one of the highest densities of IB schools among world cities.

Expats who can't afford private IB education in Hong Kong aren't likely to afford IB education back home.

The English Schools Foundation is mandated to offer "English-medium liberal education without discrimination to those who can benefit from it" and not a segregated institution preferentially for non-Asians and exclusively for non-Cantonese speaking migrants.

Hong Kong students consistently achieve top positions in the Programme for International Student Assessment.

Expats' children may benefit from the excellent education of local schools, if they can compete.

Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay

Decision on Kai Tak hub best for sport

Doubts over the future of the sports complex at Kai Tak were finally dispelled by the chief secretary ("Kai Tak sports hub will go ahead, says Carrie Lam", October 27) and the project will not be relocated.

It would not have been appropriate for the government to change its plans for the complex in order to accommodate more housing.

If it had been moved, it would have taken more than two years to change parts of the plan and this would have led to more delays given that it has been in the pipeline for a decade.

This would have disrupted the long-term development of sport in Hong Kong. I hope that we will see construction of the sports complex completed as soon as possible.

Kate Chan, Sau Mau Ping