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Letters to the Editor, April 2, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 3:45am
 

Distorting insurance changes

The description in Jose Chan's letter ("Policyholders worse off with proposed insurance authority", March 28) distorts our proposals. One of the purposes of establishing the new authority is to enhance protection of policyholders.

Mr Chan alleged that "the independent insurance authority will only handle outstanding complaint cases not yet resolved by self-regulatory organisations before its establishment." This is an allegation made totally out of context.

At present, insurance intermediaries are supervised by three separate self-regulatory organisations (SROs). The SROs handle complaints against misconduct of insurance intermediaries. One of our proposals is to replace the existing self-regulatory regime by a statutory licensing regime for insurance intermediaries to enhance protection of policyholders.

To ensure that policyholders' right of seeking redress will not be disrupted during the transition from the current regime to the new regime, we propose to specify a range of transitional arrangements in the statute. One of these arrangements is that upon the inception of the new authority, it will handle outstanding complaint cases not yet completed by the SROs. There are similar transitional arrangements overseas.

Also, the Insurance Claims Complaints Bureau is set up by the insurance industry to handle complaints against insurance companies about insurance claims. It is an adjudicating panel and does not have any regulatory functions. We have not proposed abolishing the bureau as Mr Chan alleged. In fact, the government has been discussing with the insurance industry how to enhance the dispute settlement mechanism in the light of the recently-established Financial Disputes Resolution Centre.

Our proposals on the establishment of the new insurance regulator are available at the website of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (www.fstb.gov.hk).

Paul Wong, principal assistant secretary, (financial services), Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau

 

Long wait and no response from PCCW

Have any of your readers ever tried to call PCCW's business customer hotline sales inquiries with English as the language option?

It rings and rings for about 10 minutes then cuts off automatically. I tried to contact them over a five-day period, each time spending about 30 to 40 minutes before giving up. I tried to contact my PCCW designated account manager on a direct line, but with the same result, no one ever picked up the call. So, I tried the email inquiry, and over a four-day period got no response.

PCCW once had one of the most efficient customer services, but now it is even falling behind the once-notorious Cable TV customer service.

Kelvin Chu, Siu Lam

 

Why officials should end ESF subsidy

Simon Osborn rightly recognises that the English Schools Foundation's "old policy" discriminates against native Cantonese-speaking children but wrongly claims its new policy will offer equal opportunity ("ESF's new policy offers equal chance", March 25).

As the new policy gives priority to siblings and children of alumni, it perpetuates non-Chinese speakers' preferential admission.

Non-Chinese children of non-permanent residents now account for 30 per cent of the ESF's student population, but constitute less than 2 per cent of the city's population.

According to ESF CEO Heather Du Quesnay, the new system would not "reduce the number of non-Chinese students at ESF schools" ("ESF ends priority for non-Chinese speakers", February 5). The ESF's selling of nomination rights and questionable test on "parental commitment" won't moderate the warped effects of its old policy.

Betty Bownath is right about the importance of non-Cantonese speakers' "integration into mainstream public schools" and "full immersion with extension or support classes for Chinese being the fairest and best option for ethnic minorities" ("Segregation still confronts ethnic students", March 22). But she misunderstands The New York Times article of March 10 and wrongly criticises Hong Kong's "designated schools".

Under Hong Kong's 12-year compulsory education, every school-aged child is guaranteed a school place. But, as the city is demographically 96 per cent Cantonese-speaking, the average public school isn't well prepared for the special needs of non-Cantonese speakers. Designated schools are mainstream schools which have joined a government scheme whereby they receive additional funding for the purpose of implementing school-based measures to help non Cantonese-speaking students.

Ms Bownath has overlooked the encouraging experience of Talwinder Singh, a designated school student who features in The New York Times article. He said he was glad to be in a designated school and would feel alone in a mainstream school. He said his teachers knew how to deal with minority students. He is thinking of universities after graduation this summer from a "designated school" where he studies alongside the school's Cantonese-speaking students.

The government should cut the ESF's subsidy because of that institution's practice of segregation based on linguistic discrimination, and divert such funding to help more mainstream schools develop the capability of designated schools and serve all ethnic minorities, native English speakers included, equally.

Pierce Lam, Central

 

Tycoons can park illegally with impunity

Your Lai See writer, Howard Winn, noted the stark contrast in the Hong Kong police's attitude towards enforcing seat belt rules on buses and illegal parking ("Tighten up on illegal parking", March 28). However, there is a simple explanation.

Illegally parked cars mostly belong to the wealthy, well connected (such as tycoons or their tai-tais on shopping expeditions). Incidentally, these cars also routinely violate idling engine rules while they are illegally parked.

Given tycoons' guanxi and access to good lawyers, it is not surprising that Hong Kong's finest prefer to turn a blind eye.

People using public transportation, however, are ordinary folks and are easy prey for the local police force.

By the way, I wonder whether Winn has ever noticed that local police never ask Caucasians to produce a Hong Kong identity card on the streets, unlike people with a dark complexion.

Kristiaan Helsen, Causeway Bay

 

Mainland students will help economy

I refer to the report ("Fears of overcrowding in border school classes," March 23). It is disappointing to note that some education experts and the education-sector legislator still believe that cross-border students will be a drain on Hong Kong's education resources.

Most of the students coming from north of the border were born in Hong Kong to mainland Chinese parents.

Because they were born here, they have the right of abode. When children of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong are carrying SAR citizenship and eligible to free compulsory education plus support services provided by the government, then why aren't the cross-border students who are Hong Kong people and have the right to a share of the city's resources?

According to figures issued by the Census and Statistics Department, the birth rate among local Hong Kong residents has been dropping since 1998. Sooner or later, our ageing population will present a major economic challenge. Cross-border students, acquiring their education here could offer a solution.

Enlarging class sizes, providing financial support to affected schools and re-structuring the school allocation system are short-sighted actions that only create more fear.

It is necessary for the government to formulate and implement education reforms, such as introducing private and public subsidised boarding schools to operate in North District, to cater to the education needs of cross-border students.

Amy Au Wing-man, Tuen Mun

 

Reply did not answer crucial questions

I refer to the letter from Janet Wan of TVB ("TVB explains snag in Sevens coverage", March 30), responding to the outrage over the station's broadcasting arrangements for the Hong Kong Sevens.

The public deserves better than a verbose explanation of the events that took place that evening.

We all know what happened Ms Wan, what we want to know is why it happened, who was responsible and what actions you will take to ensure that cutting away from the final moments of a major sporting event final will never happen again.

The public wants to know why the News at Seven Thirty broadcast was not delayed or reduced in length to accommodate the finish and most importantly that the decision makers involved have been made fully aware of their error.

I urge the Hong Kong Sevens organisers to get written guarantees in place from TVB prior to next year's tournament confirming the arrangements should a similar timing issue occur again. Perhaps Now TV would do a better job.

Gordon Pirie, Mid-Levels

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15

This article is now closed to comments

pslhk
Counter arguments
-
Re: educational apartheid
One’s feeling about it: amazing, disgusting, something internalized as normal everyday practice, or something that calls for early elimination to stop the irritation reflects one’s character and often depends on whether one pays for or benefits from it.
-
Re: Financially it causes HK no pain to subsidize esf
Given their low population density, it causes the US, Russia, Canada and Australia no pain to admit Indian and Indonesian farmers to work on their under-worked lands. Why don’t they?
Mainland workers are the principal contributors of HK's wealth which should NOT be misapplied for the undeserved benefits of expats who aren't even PR.
Esf defenders should try to propose esf kind of privileges for native English speakers in Singapore where English is an official language or in Japan, France and Germany where English is also "lingua franca".
-
Re: English as lingua franca
Daniel Everett: languages are simply cultural tools adapted to their ecological niche. I'd add that dynastic lingua franca will be replaced by a lingua republic. It is against HK’s long term interest to over-promote the unrealistically inflated and socially unjustifiable importance of English.
HK-Explorer
It would be against Hong Kong's best interest to ignore that the world is growing and evolving and that keeping many eggs in many baskets gives it the greatest advantage going forward. Students should be studying Chinese, English, French, Indian etc.. HK needs to embrace its global heritage and ensure education is available to all in many forms.
10 years from now there will be less languages and looking now it looks like the predominate ones will be Chinese, English and Indian as this is where the world is moving and where the populations are. HK and Singapore are both very linguistic and take a world view witch is why both countries are leaders economically. We should embrace that success rather than moving backwards.
mymak
Re: PCCW - the modern era
When I have broadband, a video camera service, a landline, NOW, etc, why can't all of this go on one bill - it's one company - paid at one time each month?
HK-Explorer
Who would pay for a video camera service? It is all free on computers, laptops, Ipdads etc..
mymak
It's a service my wife purchased, whereby the maid can be viewed, assuming she stands in a certain place, looking after the kid. I know it's a waste of money but it makes my wife happy. So we have three, or is it 4, separate bills each month.
mymak
Re: How to deal with PCCW.
1. Ask for the name of the person on the phone
2. Ask for their registered address - an address where legal documents can be sent (they normally have no idea, so you get the address they are at)
3. Ask for the name and address of their legal representatives.
4. Remind them that just on a point of principle you shall have to take them to the Small Claims Court - let them think about the resulting publicity,
It's usual after Point 2 for them to start improving their customer service.
Finally remember that after all of this there will still be something you are not happy with.
pslhk
Re: IRDHK Apr 2nd 2013 9:04am
-
I’d deem character building the most important goal of education
I can’t see how educational apartheid could build socially desirable character
Thus, I just can’t consider esf a good educational institution
-
Neither are Esf’s academic and co-curricular results impressive
especially when viewed in an immediate input and output comparison,
-
We don’t need ESF’s perverse differentiation of English into two classes;
Native English and non-native English
If HK is to master English language as a tool
like it is in Singapore
we must break esf’s caste system
-
We don’t need ESF’s perverse differentiation of minority education into two classes;
native English-speaking regardless of financial standing
and other non-Cantonese speakers in low financial standing
-
At this stage of our social integration process,
we must ensure equal treatment for all non Cantonese speaking minorities,
without discrimination against English or non English speakers
Once we have helped our two percent minorities to work in Cantonese
they can fully enjoy our free public education
which is among the best in the world
-
If everyone else is wrong, one needs no moral companion
In this case, esf is morally wrong
Can anyone give us a respectable example of anything like esf
anywhere in the world?
-
esf subsidy isn’t about funding a neutral institution
it’s about funding an “educational” institution that corrupts our moral fiber.

HK-Explorer
I think almost no children in Hong Kong are learning in Cantonese (mother Tung Teaching = Putonghua). My Nephew goes to local school and speaks perfect Putonghua and only learns Cantonese at home. His level of English is poor even though he is taught by a NET.
Removing ESF subsidy does nothing to improve the English language quality of local Children. Foreign children wont automatically switch to local schools. I am sure that ESF is not the problem causing a low quality of English. (even if they do they will go to designated schools thus adding no advantage to local children).
I think Hong Kong parents want their children to speak English better but they don't know how. Hong Kong schools do a very poor job in promoting English and this is most likely due to lackluster English teachers in the school.
I also disagree with Pierce that HK local schools are amazing. I believe famous local schools weed out poor students so at the end of high school they only have top performers left. The top 20 percent who then go to universities in HK or the west look amazing and perform at the top. the bottom 80% have limited opportunities. Thus I would say that segregation in local schools is far worse than ESF.
This all goes back to the HK government needing to improve education everywhere. Local, ESF, International.
honkiepanky
It's kind of amusing how Pierce thinks his agenda to deny expatriate children education in a language they understand (which also happens to be the global lingua franca and an official language in HK) is morally equivalent to the fight against South African apartheid or American segregation.
chaz_hen
I didn't realize I was paying the SCMP for the "Pierce Lam Diatribe Pages". Why not just give him a weekly column?
ctringham
Even better, don't!
pslhk
Indeed, why not just give PL a weekly column?
I can more than agree with you and suggest
two daily columns
pslhk
HK’s “Democractic Party” is
pro segregation
and
pro subsidized privileged education
for native English speakers and expats
-
Emily Lau, party head
and
Cheung Man-kwong, the party’s “education expert”
have separately written to SCMP
to plead the continuation of ESF’s colonial prerogatives
-
If the party obstinately sticks to its reactionary education stance
we await its reply to the government’s decision to cut esf subsidy
-
But I must beg its mercy
not to torture us with “world” this and “world” that;
class, city, and what not
when indulging in its fetish of groveling before Westerners
-
Let’s see how long the turtle’s head stays retracted.
HK-Explorer
Hong Kong government does not grovel before westerners. There is no evidence to show that. Hong Kong government focuses on Tycoons, property developers, HK wealthy, TVB stars, mainlanders and the Beijing government.
You rarely see anything in SCMP or local newspapers about the HK government giving westerners preferential treatment.
Since the HK handover Westerners have integrated very well into the fabric of Hong Kong. There should be no talk of preferential treatment for westerners as unlike in the past it barely exists in HK today.
HK-Explorer
Pierce, there currently is no Hong Kong budgetary reasons why the Hong Kong government cannot increase subsidy to “government” and “designated Schools” and still maintain funding for ESF and indeed provide the same funding to other international schools in Hong Kong (land grants and funding building construction). If the government was serious about improving “designated schools” it can do so even while still funding ESF as there is ample demand for “designated schools” in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is in a unique situation where people pay taxes and there is an extremely large budget surplus.
Instead of 1 of payments to people with permanent HK ID cards, electricity subsidies (which go against environmental protection) and other harebrained ideas the government has come up with the government should pump money into all areas of Hong Kong education: Government, designated, ESF, private, universities, continuing and any other area they can find!! Other countries go into debt to maintain world class education. Hong Kong has no reason not to.
Saying ESF should not be entitled to funding goes against the idea of education and ensuring that the people of Hong Kong are ready for the challenges of tomorrow in all areas, in all languages and in all ethnic areas (not just 1).
(Look at today’s news: west Kowloon cultural hub costs 60 billion dollars and is just another tourist trap with limited use by HK people. The 250 million offered to ESF educates thousands).
 
 
 
 
 

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