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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 2:22pm

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

@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.
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.
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"?
If PS Lam is serious about improving local education he needs to be more positive and stop attacking the ESF.
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.
But there you go again. Parents have different ideas and expectations, and that doesn't make them "morons" or "bullies".
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).
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.
The comments system here is hopeless. It makes it very difficult to follow the discussion.
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 ?
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.
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?
Ah, PS/Pierce, I was wondering when you would appear.
I am not interested in whether English is an official language in the United States or other countries. This is about Hong Kong.
I am not surprised to see you arguing that everyone has an obligation to learn Chinese. I don't think that's the issue. But ESF teach Putonghua to a high standard, and the point about the "designated schools" is that they aren't doing a good of helping ethnic minorities learn Chinese and integrate into the community.
The headline was not mine. I will not respond to the rest of your musings about intellectual decline, since they aren't relevant to the debate.
You "happen to agree" with Heather du Quesnay on what exactly? ESF has greatly improved its provision for Putonghua teaching, so please provide some context for this quotation.
Who is saying that one language is better than another?
It would be a severe mistake to start building more public housing on the Kai Tak development. We should not just be thinking of Hong Kong today but Hong Kong for the next 30 years.
Kai Tak is the new city centre of Kowloon and low density and sport venues are needed to give the people of Kowloon and New Territories something to go that is not just full of housing. We want a nice city centre. A place we can stroll around and see the sky and play. Where our kids and their kids can be proud of.
The outside rim can be office towers so that people can work near their homes and for most of people in Hong Kong Kai Tak is more convenient than Hong Kong island. But the free space should remain.
People really need to stop promoting more residential on Kai Tak as the people of Hong Kong need and demand more open space that is not packed with housing. Ka Tak is the last great area in Hong Kong and probably any major city in the world. Lets keep it great!
Why don't people of HK want a great place they can be proud of. Place families can go and relax. It is very upsetting tha Hong Kong is already a concrete jungle. people keep on attacking Kai tak development and say pack it with housing and more housing. Lets have no where to go that is not housing. While we are at it lets get more and more stressed and work longer hours as anyway Hong Kong has nowhere to go and relax.
Guys, people of Hong Kong need to get real. We need places to go on weekends that are not Disney or ocean park. We need large open flat areas to walk, run and generally relax. Lets stop this nonsense of seeing every open city space as a place to put housing.
Lets stop these people who think that HK should just be housing everywhere.
I've posted the same comment three times but they have all disappeared
On the letters page the number of comment remains at 26
But on the comment page, the number is 29
Where are the three that I've posted?

duplication deleted
Re: ctringham Apr 9th 2013 8:46am
Duplication deleted
Re: ctringham Apr 9th 2013 8:46am
Any one serious about education will perceive its universality
and see no distinction between local and foreign students
What matters is social relevance
Public education aims at beneficial, progressive and sustainable social integration
I’m not against esf per se
I’m against discrimination, hypocrisies, parochialism,
entrenched presumption of undeserved entitlement,
gimmickry usurpation of unjustified reputational advantages
unfair assumption of social resources, institutional profligacy, …
No society anywhere would subsidize schools that are so ridiculously “international”
that they’ve become in effect socially irrelevant, locally disconnected and
completely foreign in character, nature, purpose and orientation.
No one can show us an esf-like school anywhere else in the world.
esf's peculiar existence in HK evidences
that education has long been decolonized everywhere else in the world.
Please click "All" at page end for my 8:57pm (final) reply to CT’s 6:42pm and 1:33pm comments of April 8.
I have reserved the right to take actions against dynamco for privacy invasion and fabrication of lies in ad hominine attacks (re: March 5th 2013, comments)
I have blacklisted dynamco also for the reason that I won’t waste my time trying to enlighten vicious and hopelessly biased imbecile.
Re : Real numbers
(1) “English is an [official] language of Hong Kong and there is significant demand for [quality] education in English”
CT has little idea what’s an official language and how it relates to other languages; social, public etc. English is not countrywide official in the US. [Quality] english doesn’t seem to have helped esf defenders think / deliver quality arguments. Ethnic minorities (native Hindi and English speakers alike) have the obligation to learn the national language of their host. Everyone should have EQUAL opportunity to quality education. Free from esf like hoax, Singapore has a high english standard.
(2) As the hoax has started dissolution, we may turn to something more fascinating – real numbers
CT most probably isn’t aware of the fun of the “real numbers” headline supplied by the editor and has never thought outside R. If CT is from Dublin, he should pay a visit to Broom Bridge and ponder what changes in between the times of WRH and the likes of himself that accounts for the intellectual decline.
Highbrow R, i, C and their extensions such as 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.
To decree an official language doesn’t entail setting unworkable standards to arbitrarily rule that the language used by a certain group is better than that used by other groups. In Singapore where English is the administrative language, no one will be so foolish as to claim that the English of native English speakers is better than Singlish. Standards should be tested by objective public exams.
As regards the general Chinese language standard of esf students, I happen to agree with HdQ who said that it is “token”. The general English language standard of students in local schools is way above the general Chinese language standard of esf students. How many esf students could pass local school’s Chinese language diploma exam? Why don’t esf schools take local exams, there being no cross border differences in the content of hard subjects like math and sciences?

Not too long ago HdQ described the Chinese taught at esf schools as "token".
My assitant will help search old files to find the references you requested.
I'd then respond, hopefully before they close comments for this issue.
Please also note that Chinese is a unified written language, although there are differences when spoken in dialects.
I doubt that your assistant will find any such recent quote from ESF Management. It was "token" 6/7 years ago, but not now - ESF students have daily Putonghua lessons in primary schools and it is the main language option in secondary schools, either as a first or a second language.
(1) Readers who have benefited from whymak’s clarification should thank the good Samarian, who probably won’t care less about esf subvention, for the education.
(2) My original comment accounted for the digression thus:
“the hoax has started dissolving,
we may turn to something more fascinating –
the fun of the “real numbers” headline ...
Real, imaginary, Complex numbers
and their extensions such as Calabi ...
we live in different mental dimensions”
Let’s work on a new plane
and attempt something more interesting / meaningful / useful
(3) If, as it seems, a wholesale decision has been made to discontinue the esf subvention, piecemeal discussions, such as how good esf students are in Putonghua, have become futile. Such piecemeal debates may lead to endless arguments about why emphasize colloquial and not written Chinese; if esf students’ Chinese standard is good why don’t they take the local diploma exams; etc. I’d tell my assistant to forget HdQ comments - de minimis - and do something more meaningful.
(4) A digression to correct a misunderstanding about Putonghua - it is taught as a separate subject in most mainstream schools where Chinese language / literature / history classes are taught in Cantonese.
Thank you CT for the discussion. It’s been a great pleasure.
Ah, it was a joke about numbers. Well, well.
Yes, Putonghua is the national language of China, Cantonese is a local dialect. I am well aware of that.
First posting disappeared then reappeared
Replication is now deleted
Those of us living here in Mui Wo, know that the driver was carted off anyway.
The police still need independent witnesses to launch a cast-iron and successful prosecution. If you know Mr Renaud, please ask him to 'volunteer' and make that report. Drivers who mount pavements and knock over pedestrians need locking up............. for good!


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