ESF - English Schools Foundation

Letters to the Editor, June 12, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:18pm

Loss of ESF subvention disastrous

The informative lead story ("ESF considers school places for companies", June 8) highlights the now-terminal state of affordable education for non-Chinese-speaking children in Hong Kong.

Both residents and permanent residents in Hong Kong will be the losers.

The withdrawal of the English Schools Foundation subvention will be an unmitigated disaster because options are so few for English-speaking families, for example. What will happen is that ESF education will become the preserve of the elite. Only those who can afford the exorbitant fees will be able to send their children to these schools.

The Education Bureau has supplied a list of Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools which could supposedly instruct English-speaking families' children in English.

However, when one of my native-English-speaking teacher colleagues contacted the listed schools, it transpired that only two or three out of the dozens of listed schools could actually do so.

The local DSS schools felt they did not have the ability or the resources to teach non-Chinese speakers.

Now that the ESF option is going to be effectively cut off, what will the government do to adequately resource DSS schools so that they can provide for non-Chinese-speaking children's education?

Asia's world city is, tragically, looking more parochial by the day.

Perry Bayer, Ap Lei Chau


Activist against unprovoked violence

I am grateful to the South China Morning Post for the article ("Crusade of jailed Chinese democracy activist Wang Bingzhang's daughter", June 2), profiling my father, Wang Bingzhang.

He was the founder of the Chinese overseas democracy movement and is currently serving a life sentence in Beijiang Prison in Shaoguan , Guangdong, for his lifelong commitment to the ideals of democracy and rule of law. The article was well researched and accurate in detailing his pioneering work and some of the struggles I have personally faced in my efforts to win his freedom.

However, I'm concerned about the quote provided by Nicholas Bequelin, from Human Rights Watch, as it is inaccurate to say my father "advocated the violent overthrow of the Communist Party". Without context, this quote misrepresents his position.

My father firmly believed in non-violent methods to bring about democratic change. But after the Tiananmen Square massacre, he wrote that if the People's Liberation Army was ever to be unleashed against civilians again, the people should have the right to respond with force, if necessary.

I think that is very different from saying he "advocated" a violent overthrow, as he never supported unprovoked, random acts of violence.

Ti-Anna Wang, Montreal, Canada


Police not complacent over accidents

I refer to Martin Bradley's letter ("Lantau police must do more after tragedies", June 8), which expressed concern over road safety in South Lantau.

The police take the traffic accidents mentioned by Mr Bradley seriously.

The fatal motorbike accident on June 1 is being investigated by the special investigations team of traffic, New Territories South, whereas the one involving the feral cows on June 5 is being looked into by the district crime unit of Lantau police district along the lines of "cruelty to animals".

Road safety is an operational priority of the police. We have been taking action to enhance road safety by way of publicity, education and enforcement.

With a view to combating speeding offences, enforcement actions against speeding have been carried out in South Lantau. For the period between January and May 2013, a total of 477 incidents of speeding were detected.

The police will also work together with the local communities, respective concern groups and other government departments to explore other means to enhance road safety, for example, improvements in road design and traffic signs.

Please be assured that police will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action to enhance the safety of all road users.

Your readers are encouraged to report any road safety concern to Lantau South Divisional Police Station at 2984 6200 or call 999 in case of emergency situations.

Kong Man-keung, senior superintendent, police public relations branch


PM moving away from secular state

I am glad that reports are appearing in your paper informing Hong Kong people about the current situation in Turkey.

This is appreciated by the Hong Kong Turkish community of which I am a member.

I would like to share with your readers my thoughts and experiences regarding the situation in the country and to help my fellow Hong Kong residents understand the importance of this issue.

Turks are protesting for a number of reasons. The country's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been elected three times democratically; however, I feel that he is overstepping the mandate which he was given by voters.

Instead of being representative of all Turkish people, he has ventured down a path of limiting personal freedoms and imposing his so-called Islamic values.

New rules on limiting purchases of alcohol and the display of affection between couples are two recent examples of this.

Turkey, since its founding by our first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 90 years ago, has become a very modern and secular state. Since Mr Erdogan took office, we have seen his attacks on our founding principles and moves towards an oppressive regime.

When questioned, he refers to those of us who prefer a modern country as "looters".

Even though Islam is the main religion Turks have practised, we have never been racist or looked down on other religions.

The atmosphere that Erdogan has created encourages religious fundamentalism and division between communities.

I love my country. It is a place where you can pray in a mosque, then go and have drinks with your friends who might be a mix of Christians, Jews and Muslims. Unfortunately, if things do not change, that might be a Turkey that only exists in my memories.

Let's hope the protests will lead to a transition back to a progressively modern Turkey.

Didem Aydin, Cheung Sha Wan


Rent-control system needed for Hong Kong

There are over 200,000 people on the waiting list for low-cost government housing. The government will build more housing estates, but this is going to take time; meanwhile, the waiting list will grow.

Officials are attempting an impossible task.

People are applying for low- cost housing simply because they can't afford the high rents charged by landlords. They are forced to live in subdivided flats, in appalling conditions and paying 50 per cent of their income in rent.

The government needs to introduce rent control, to stop the greedy landlords from charging as much as they want. This will give it time to build more housing estates and reduce the waiting list to a reasonable number.

John Fleming, Mong Kok