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Letters to the Editor, April 6, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 4:02am

Kai Tak land best used for flats, not arena

The proposal to build a sports complex at the Kai Tak site has proved to be controversial.

I think if a new sports complex is to be constructed in Hong Kong, the location should be changed.

There has been a growth in the city's population and this presents problems given the limited land supply that creates a housing shortage. Some analysts say the land at Kai Tak earmarked for a sports complex could provide up to 25,000 flats.

There is a better chance of harmony in a society if the basic housing needs of its citizens are met. Also, there is greater demand for homes in this city than for recreational sports venues.

Although constructing a world-class stadium could enhance Hong Kong's reputation and boost tourism, the need for this facility is not as urgent as the need for additional flats.

We already have sports stadiums and complexes of different sizes on Kowloon side and Hong Kong Island, in places such as Kowloon Park, Causeway Bay and Aberdeen.

I hope that the government will change its position on the planned project and recognise that increasing the supply of housing in Hong Kong is more important than meeting the people's recreational needs.

Rachel Wong Wing-fung, Hung Hom

 

Urgent action needed over plight of apes

The illegal wildlife trade is threatening the survival of the world's great apes, according to a United Nations report.

Large numbers of chimpanzees have been captured and bought for displays in private gardens and zoos.

I find it immoral that people should think it is acceptable to capture these wild animals, put them in cages and deprive them of their freedom. To be confined in this way is a torment for them. If the rate of hunting keeps increasing, some species will face extinction.

The UN report said that over seven years, up to 2011, it is estimated that more than 22,000 great apes have been traded illegally.

Governments around the world must step up efforts to curb this illegal trade. Surely more can be done to crack down on the traders. The animals should be released and, where possible, returned to their natural habitats.

Lucy Lui Lo-hei, Tsuen Wan

 

Real numbers prove ESF's invaluable role

Pierce Lam tries to baffle us with statistics ("Why officials should end ESF subsidy", April 2), but the fact is that English is an official language of Hong Kong and there is significant demand for quality education in English.

If, as seems to be the case, the government intends to stop funding the English Schools Foundation (ESF), it needs to offer something significantly better than the "designated schools" scheme.

The maximum grant under this scheme is HK$600,000 per annum per school to help non-Chinese-speaking students. That's not much money, and it is paid to a grand total of five secondary schools in the New Territories (with two operating under the Direct Subsidy Scheme and charging fees) and only three in Kowloon (with two in the DSS scheme). That doesn't seem like much progress after seven years of the designated school scheme.

Mr Lam apparently believes that the problem is that the government is short of money and argues that the reallocation of the ESF subvention would fund the expansion of the scheme. This is misleading.

If parents cannot afford to pay ESF fees (or don't want to pay for their children's schooling) and opt instead for a designated school, it will cost the government significantly more than the subvention that is currently paid to the ESF.

Mr Lam brushes aside criticism of designated schools by highlighting one student who is happy in his school and uses that to accuse Betty Bownath ("Segregation still confronts ethnic students", March 22) of misunderstanding The New York Times article to which she referred. I would be amazed if anyone reading it online, apart from Mr Lam, could not understand that the government is using the designated schools scheme to segregate non-Chinese students.

I think we all know that Pierce Lam's main purpose is to attack the ESF. The new admissions policy is more logical, and it seems excessively petty-minded to object to preference being given to siblings and children of alumni. This is a common practice in other schools, and will only account for a tiny percentage of admissions.

Apparently Mr Lam will only be satisfied when ESF schools have 96 per cent local Chinese, and I will leave others to judge whether that would make sense.

Chris Tringham, Sha Tin

 

Seeing need for 'sleeping policeman'

I refer to the letter by P. Kevin MacKeown ("Bicycles with batteries can help elderly", April 1).

A few minutes after I finished reading it, I witnessed an accident. A van was approaching the roundabout in Mui Wo from South Lantau Road. It meant to turn left onto Ngang Kwong Road, but completely misjudged the manoeuvre and went straight over onto the opposite pavement, injuring a pedestrian.

Surely this incident makes it all the more necessary to have a "sleeping policeman" on the approach to the roundabout as suggested by your correspondent.

Andrew Renaud, Lantau

 

Learning tours price out poor students

I understand that some universities are trying to persuade Form Four and Five students to join their summer camps, with fees ranging from about HK$1,500 to HK$5,400.

How can grass-roots families afford to pay these sums?

Nowadays, students need to show other-learning experience to get into a university, and parents try their best to ensure their children get that experience.

In this regard, these summer camps, and also learning tours, help give youngsters an idea of what they will be studying.

The cost is no problem for rich parents, but for poor parents it poses a serious obstacle. Learning tours can broaden a student's horizons. But, for example, a five-day learning tour to Australia would cost at least HK$21,000.

This would be equivalent to three months' salary for some low-income families.

The government should increase funding in this area of education so that children from low-income families can attend these summer schools. It should not forget the grass-roots families.

Amanda Au, Sau Mau Ping

 

HK forgetting its medicinal traditions

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a centuries-old science which should be seen as something special in Hong Kong, and hence should be nurtured.

It is inextricably linked with nature and can be of great help to Hongkongers.

Yet, the debate over calls by Baptist University to launch a TCM teaching hospital would indicate that the government does not seem to appreciate the importance of this branch of medicine. Instead it wants to use the site of the former Lee Wai Lee campus for a luxury residential development.

Many Hong Kong citizens seem to rely too much on Western medicine. If they feel unwell, they go to their general practitioner. The thinking is that they would rather be given yet more medication.

There are simple health rules to follow, such as eating less meat and more vegetables. Yet, as I say, when people feel unwell, rather than thinking it might be due to an unhealthy lifestyle, they think they can solve the problem by taking more pills, that is, more chemicals. They might feel better in the short-term, but the root cause of the problem remains.

A TCM hospital, given TCM's links to nature, would be good for the community. It would help encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.

Sarah Kong, Sha Tin

 

Net addiction makes iWatch a bad idea

I recently a watched an item on BBC News about a possible Apple iWatch.

In recent years, electronic technology has been developing at such a fast pace that, now, thanks to smartphones and tablets, we no longer have to rely on our desktop computers to surf the internet.

I have to admit that the invention of the iPhone has had a global impact.

People are predicting we will eventually see Apple releasing an iWatch.

I have my doubts about this. Smartphones are very convenient. You can play lots of games, edit documents and download unlimited apps. I don't think there would be any point in buying a "smartwatch" if it basically offered similar functions as the iPhone, especially given the obviously smaller display.

I also wonder if another device is a good thing. You already see people poring over their iPhones and communicating less through face-to-face conversation.

People may be sitting at the same table yet use the social network to chat with each other. Also, some individuals have become addicted to their computers and use them everywhere, even when they are in the toilet.

Maybe we are not yet ready for computers you can wear.

Ervin Chiu Ho-man, Tsuen Wan

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This article is now closed to comments

captam
@Andrew Renaud, Lantau
Since you witnessed this accident, I hope you have done your civic duty and have reported to police to give a witness statement?
We need to see the driver of this van prosecuted for dangerous driving, causing injury to pedestrians, and locked up.
whymak
To ctringham
Deep down inside, I may agree with you that we should subsidize all schools, ESF included. Hong Kong is rich enough. Whatever benefits children, domestic and foreign, should not become an issue.
That said, I must say that I also agree with pslhk's disgust with the hypocrisy expressed by some readers. Worse, the superciliousness and condescension of expats toward our local schools. Of course, they rationalize away their conspicuous contempt.
With poor English language skills, I have seen Chinese children in diaspora all over the world learning sometimes two languages other than Chinese while attending local schools. Many in my generation have become top-notched world class professionals. None to my knowledge seeks to bully local governments to subsidize a system of Chinese Foundation Schools in their host countries.
I am a product of Hong Kong St. Joseph's College and proud of it. In my time, I don't believe an ESF school like KGV could perform anywhere to our level in GCE exams. So there is something to be said about foreign children in our city trying to learn our language, study alongside and compete with our local students for the limited places available in better schools.
There are far too many interleaving exchanges where people talk pass one another here, but I think pslhk said something to that effect too.
ctringham
You talk about "superciliousness and condescension of expats toward our local schools" but many of the people campaigning for restoration of the ESF subvention are 100% local people who clearly find the ESF superior to local schools. Are they "bullies"?
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If PS Lam is serious about improving local education he needs to be more positive and stop attacking the ESF.
whymak
I can't speak for Chinese parents who think fluency in English count more than history, science, math and geography put together. Many of them set their sights too low because of their own ignorance. I have seen "uncommon" English usage in business presentations and scientific papers written by Germans and Chinese. It doesn't take one iota away from their contents.
Yes, many Hong Kongers, including parents of ESF schools, have become bullies like their Western cousins. Shame on Hong Kong!
But I am not going to deny a reasonable subvention to ESF schoolchildren just because their parents are morons.
Emphatically, my statements are not to be taken to mean the de-emphasis of the English language. Foreigners' unwillingness to learn our language is the issue. How many Hong Kong governors could carry on a conversion in Cantonese? None. How many white folks in Hong Kong could speak and write Chinese? I could probably count them with fingers on both hands. How many Indians in Hong Kong speak our language? Just about all of them. Now you know why I like Indians.
ctringham
But there you go again. Parents have different ideas and expectations, and that doesn't make them "morons" or "bullies".
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Ah, yes, governors sent from London didn’t speak Cantonese and didn’t bother to learn it. And the ESF is a relic of Hong Kong’s colonial past. So let’s move on and find something better than the “designated schools” that are failing Indians (amongst other ethnic minorities).
whymak
Agreed. The racist attitudes of my fellow Hong Kongers toward Indians is a crying shame. Let us both move on but always not afraid to speak it like it is.
ctringham
The comments system here is hopeless. It makes it very difficult to follow the discussion.
dynamco
PS Lam "Calabi conjecture apart, we live daily in different mental dimensions; some more shallow and near-sighted and some broader and deeper than others. Does fairness require the wiser to assume the doomed mission of providing free adult education to polemists of the lower order? I think so, but only if discussions are fairly based and not self-serving. Conformal transformation."
This guy is nuts. Can someone recommend a **** shrink for him ?
whymak
I am bemused by your reaction. Obviously, pslhk is talking over your head. But at least he knows terms about Calabi-Yau shape -- an important tool in string theory -- and conformal transformation in complex variables. Yes, he ought to talk down a little. Maybe you should go back to school and take some useful courses.
Thanks for an entertaining conversation.
ctringham
Calabi-Yau shape
string theory
conformal transformation in complex variables
-
So you and PS Lam are both really smart. That's great, but what has it got to do with the issue that we are debating here?

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