Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Letters to the Editor, April 23, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 3:51am

Open spaces must be kept at Kai Tak site

Every day I look out of my window at Kai Tak and think about the great potential the area has and how it can dramatically improve the lives of people across Hong Kong.

It is a large, flat and square area that should become an oasis within busy Hong Kong. It has all the potential to become a landmark like New York's Central Park or London's Canary Wharf (should be even better). If done right, it will become a point of pride for the people of Hong Kong.

I am concerned that the government will give into a very small, vocal group that see Kai Tak as just another place to pack with public and private housing and not the original idea of a family and community gathering place with large open spaces and low-rise buildings.

Adding more mass housing developments would ruin the last remaining large open central space in the city, to the detriment of all the residents of Hong Kong.

I have read the plan for the redevelopment and all subsequent changes with great interest. It is a very good plan, with office towers and housing around the outer rim where two MTR stations are being built, and currently has a major road network.

Creating office towers on the edge of Kai Tak is a great idea, as those living in Kowloon and the New Territories will have a shorter commute and there will be more job opportunities created. The plan also reduces the amount of traffic within the central Kai Tak area.

The inner section of the development has the Kai Tak River (formerly nullah) with grass banks and lots of open space for people to walk, relax and spend time with the family.

I can just imagine how relaxing it will be with people riding on bike paths, children flying kites and families eating at restaurants looking out onto the picturesque Hong Kong harbour.

Due to it being closed off for 14 years, people are not aware of the amazing potential that Kai Tak offers to Hong Kong. If the current plan of large open spaces with limited residential development is maintained, the people of Hong Kong four to five years from now will see it as the best investment Hong Kong ever made.

Douglas Innes, San Po Kong


Barristers need compulsory extra training

I think compulsory continuing professional development is needed for Hong Kong barristers.

This kind of development exists for doctors, accountants, solicitors and people working in the insurance sector, so there is no reason barristers should not be included. I think barristers also need to keep acquiring new knowledge and seek self- improvement. Then there is less likelihood of them making mistakes in court.

The law is constantly changing. Are all barristers keeping up with these changes? And if they have missed some changes to laws, could this mean that in some cases they are not giving their clients the full representation they deserve.

A lot is expected of these professionals and I think it is in their interests, as well as in the interests of their clients, if they are subject to compulsory continuing professional development. This is a controversial issue and barristers' professional bodies should give it some consideration.

Sophie Cheung, Tsuen Wan


Speed control device better than training

I do not think it is necessary for taxi drivers to receive pre-service training ("Taxi-driver training urged as speeding offences rise", April 18).

The imposition of this compulsory training programme would not be effective in solving the problem of taxis which are speeding.

The root of this problem is taxi drivers who drive fast in the hopes of getting more fares.

A pre-service training programme might raise their awareness regarding the dangers of speeding, but obviously does not address the problem of what some drivers might do during their working hours, when they may feel they can drive over the speed limit.

The best way to cope with this problem is by installing speed display devices inside cabs, so passengers can also keep an eye on the drivers to prevent them from speeding.

This method would be quite effective, given that the number of minibuses which speed has fallen since they had similar devices installed. The problem of speeding taxis deserves our full attention as it concerns the safety of passengers.

However, offering pre-service training for drivers is simply not the best solution.

Leung Ka-yan, Ma On Shan


Hong Kong's education culture toxic

Last week, an English private tutor posted comments online about how his students successfully interfered with the radios of their fellow candidates during the Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese listening examination with their radios. His words sparked an explosion of outrage online and drew widespread condemnation.

He later apologised online, citing misinterpretation.

This incident paints a stark image of what has befallen our city's education system.

Hong Kong has traditionally put a lot of emphasis on our students' academic performance, and the education system is geared towards awarding academic achievers above all else.

However, in recent years that culture has evolved into a near-obsession with grades, and getting high scores has replaced the pursuit of knowledge as the main objective of studying.

The explosive growth of tutoring centres is a direct result of the increased need for students to gain an edge over the competition.

Nowadays, adverts for scores of so-called 5** gurus from dozens of tutoring centres are all over the place: on buses, newspapers and on the internet.

Our education culture has become dangerously toxic.

Teachers are willing to provide materials and advice that give their students an unfair advantage over others, and their students use them without a second thought.

This, more than anything else, is why I am going to study abroad in Britain instead of staying here.

But not all is lost. Many teachers and students have expressed anger and shock at the story and claims regarding the tutor and do not want their students to use underhand methods to gain the upper hand in exams.

Perhaps there is still a glimmer of hope that things will change, even when secondary school mentors teach based on marking schemes and students ignore knowledge that is outside the syllabus.

William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan


Low-income groups are often exploited

There has been a great deal of debate regarding striking dockworkers in Hong Kong.

These dockers are struggling to earn a living in an industry where wages are low and working conditions are bad. This is an issue that deserves our full attention.

Companies are always trying to find ways to minimise costs and maximise profits.

When a company outsources its work, the subcontractor with the lowest tender is always chosen.

As subcontractors also have to make a profit, they will often pay the minimum wage and this leads to workers being cruelly exploited.

Often employers fail to understand this. They do not put themselves into their workers' shoes. The situation may sometimes be worse here because the city has such a free economy.

The government also sometimes fails to grasp the problem and officials should try and understand the plight of low-income groups in Hong Kong. Some people will find they often have to work overtime without extra pay.

They provide working environments that are detrimental to the health of workers. They do not offer pay rises that keep pace with the rising rate of inflation.

If the rights of low-income groups are not respected, this could damage the stability of Hong Kong.

Stella Tse, Sha Tin


Attract more young people to terminals

I am writing to express my opinion on the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals strike.

There is no point arguing whether the dockers' demands should be met. It is more important to look at the reasons behind the strike.

It is obvious that the dockers face long working hours and are not happy with their levels of pay.

The fact is that in Hong Kong the dock trade is running out of workers and so existing workers face longer hours at the terminals. For this reason they are demanding better pay.

We have to ask why there are not enough workers to supply the needs of this industry.

The answer is that Hong Kong is moving closer to a knowledge-based society.

Most young people are moving towards white-collar trades and professions and are not keen to do a job that requires physical work.

They are put off by the prospect of doing a blue-collar trade. As a result there are not enough dock workers.

There should be an effort to recruit more young workers to tackle the deep-rooted problems in the industry. And for the strike to end, the dockworkers should be offered a higher wage.

Renee Fung Hoi-kiu, Tsing Yi