Letters to the Editor, April 8, 2013
Don't let poor students get left behind
I refer to the article by Jennifer Cheng ("Another inconvenient truth", April 2).
It would seem on the surface that all Hong Kong students receive the same education, but there are wide disparities - and the stories of the two students in your article are a good example.
I agree with the point that students from low-income families are unlikely to broaden their horizons to the same extent as youngsters from wealthy families.
Poverty-stricken pupils are deprived of a proper learning environment, given that many of them live in subdivided apartments.
Young people from well-off families can afford the extortionate fees charged by tutorial colleges.
With an unequal education system, fewer underprivileged teenagers will get a place at a university, which means they will end up being less competitive in the job market.
These problems are made worse by the wide wealth gap in Hong Kong.
The government must ensure that underprivileged students are guaranteed a good education and given the necessary subsidies - such as for transport - to make that possible.
There also has to be a change in our spoon-fed system of education.
It's not enough to study hard during lessons.
Youngsters who can afford the steep tuition fees have that edge when it comes to exams and in our rote-learning educational culture, exams are all- important.
As well as trying to deal with the problem of the wealth gap, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must also look at the rote-learning system under which all young people suffer.
I have a great deal of respect for those youngsters who struggle to learn and do well academically despite all the hardships they face.
Daisy Chan Wai-ka, Kowloon Tong
YouTube steps up as youth's new teacher
I think e-learning in Hong Kong could get a boost with a new educational YouTube channel, the Hong Kong Digital Academy.
It will be an open online platform which offers videos about different core subjects.
I actually think that it is a brilliant idea. It will be very convenient.
When you forget some useful information, you can simply turn on your computer and find the relevant video. More videos will be uploaded, helping with the learning process.
It will also help teachers, as they will not have to keep repeating demonstrations in the classroom.
Students can consolidate their knowledge and acquire new information, because there will be no limits to the number of videos they can watch.
For example, Primary Six pupils can look at secondary-school material, which will challenge them and help them broaden their horizons.
I hope this platform will keep expanding over time and will ensure that youngsters do not lose their passion for learning.
Kevin So, Sha Tin
Now TV was silent hero of the Sevens
I refer to the letter from Gordon Pirie ("Reply did not answer crucial questions", April 2) regarding TVB's coverage of the Rugby Sevens final.
He concludes his letter by saying that "perhaps Now TV would do a better job".
In fact, it did do a better job.
As soon as TVB went off-air at the Sevens, I started flicking through the Now TV channels and immediately found a channel showing the Sevens, which I then watched to the end, including the prize-giving ceremony.
Now TV can only be criticised for not doing a good job of advertising to its own customers that one of its channels was even showing the event.
Ian Reid, North Point
Unsuitable candidates in mayoral race
Heaven help Manila.
The report saying that disgraced former president Joseph Estrada plans to run for mayor of Manila against Alfredo Lim, the incumbent, is a sad April Fool's joke ("Estrada launches his 'last hurrah'", April 1).
Estrada, whose political style was patterned after that of the late, unlamented Ferdinand Marcos, was convicted of graft and corruption, while Lim has been presiding over what must be one of the messiest cities in the region.
The latter is famous for watching his police force bungle the rescue bid during the 2010 bus hijacking at Manila's major park, which resulted in the deaths of eight Hongkongers.
What a sad state of affairs for Filipinos to have to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.
L.M.S. Valerio, Tin Hau
Set a time limit on baby milk restrictions
Critics of the government restrictions imposed on parallel traders taking goods across the border said it tarnished the city's reputation as a free-trade economy.
They also said it put further strains on our already tense relationship with the mainland.
Clearly there are two sides to the argument, and the government's decision will have had both positive and negative effects.
There is no doubt that the restriction on how many tins of milk can be taken out of the city has solved the shortage of formula milk.
Before the new ruling was imposed, local mothers did have difficulties getting all the formula they needed and, with the shortages, had to pay higher prices. In my opinion the government did the right thing by putting the needs of Hongkongers first.
However, I do understand the arguments of the critics, which is why I suggest that the government put a time restriction on the rule.
Moreover, lawmakers must work with the administration to come up with arrangements that strike the right balance.
This is not just about conflict and tensions over cross-border integration.
The mainland's scramble for products on our shelves underlines growing demand and confidence in our retail business. The authorities on both sides of the border should work closely to tap the business potential that confidence generates.
It is important to alleviate any cross-border tensions. We can build a harmonious society through co-operation.
Angela Ng, Tsuen Wan
Bricklaying for inmates is a tall order
I refer to the letter of Yau Wing-kwong, JP, ("Helping young offenders build a new career", March 29).
The Justice of the Peace recommends that construction industry training in steelwork, joinery and bricklaying skills should be extended to all correctional centres in order to provide the inmates with a new career and "start a new life".
I am sympathetic with his idealism, as without training of some kind, the young offenders simply spend most of their time listening to their fellow inmates and are then released as more knowledgeable druggies, thieves or burglars.
Given the usual ridiculously short time these offenders spend behind bars, however, I seriously question whether on release, any of them can start a new career as a bricklayer.
It takes a minimum of three years' concentrated training - from very experienced instructors - to produce a good brickie. Any less, and the trainee would hardly be capable of building footing for a dentist's chair.
Who would employ them? Where in Hong Kong are the developers and architects incorporating exposed brickwork in their structures? Where would the trainee expand his knowledge and experience of the craft?
As an indentured master bricklayer (laying 1,000 bricks in an eight-hour day) I know well of what I write.
John Charleston, Tuen Mun
Light curfew will endanger people's lives
It has come to my attention that some environmental groups are calling for a light curfew - all lights off after 11pm. I strongly oppose this.
First and foremost, imposing a light curfew, regrettable but true, will affect the image of Hong Kong as an international city.
The reason why is not hard to comprehend. Hong Kong is an international finance centre, which means there are a lot of financial activities. Many people are still working after 11pm, or even later. There will be terrible consequences if the light curfew is imposed.
The city is also famous for its beautiful views at night. All year round, tourists come to the Peak and Victoria Harbour to take in the stunning, lit-up skyline. Nobody wants to visit a pitch-black harbour.
Last but definitely not least, the light curfew poses safety problems.
Drug dealers, prostitutes and gangs are very active at night.
When the lights are turned off, how can citizens or the police see what these shady groups are up to? Tourists and citizens will not be fully alert to the dangers around them.
Just let our prosperous city flourish and shine as it always has.
Angie Tsang Yeung-tsz, Sha Tin