Letters to the Editor, June 28, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 4:47am

Funding policy fails hearing-impaired

There are around 6,400 students with a hearing problem in schools in Hong Kong.

Wide concern has been expressed in various circles about the funding that is provided for hearing devices.

As a hearing-impaired student, I can understand how vitally important a hearing aid is to help us progress academically and, given the noisy environment of a school, to interact with our peers.

The Education Bureau was subsidising students to enable us to purchase only one hearing aid and to provide ear mould services.

I am one of those fortunate pupils whose family could afford to purchase an extra one. However, many underprivileged families struggled to meet the expense of one additional costly hearing aid.

Recently, the government changed its policy and ensured that two hearing aids and an annual ear check would be provided to the hearing-impaired.

This has made a difference as those pupils from low-income families no longer have to rely on just one hearing aid while the other ear deteriorates.

Nevertheless, the Education Bureau does not fund the maintenance of devices used after students get a cochlear implant - which is known as a "bionic ear".

The surgery involves fitting a small hearing device behind an ear to stimulate the hearing nerve of those with severe hearing loss.

I was very shocked to learn that the government was failing to help and was, in effect, denying hearing-impaired people their rights.

The surgery costs more than HK$100,000 and the maintenance fees of the external devices after the surgery can be as much as HK$60,000.

The Education Bureau has for some time promoted the concept of "integrated education".

Its aim is to ensure students with particular needs are able to receive a proper education in mainstream schools.

It is quite obvious that for such a policy to meet its goals, it should ensure the necessary subsidies for hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Victoria Tang, Sha Tin


Hacking by US is the real act of bad faith

Lee Elliott's sanctimonious proclamation that Hong Kong has lost credibility through a "bad-faith act" ("Dangerous precedent set over Snowden", June 26) wilfully ignores the true precedent of bad-faith acts in the relationship between the United States and Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong has acted justifiably and according to local law in relation to Edward Snowden's departure, your correspondent claims that "the spirit of good faith" cannot be ignored in diplomacy.

To this end, how does he view the spirit with which the US has unlawfully breached Hong Kong's sovereignty by hacking into local communication systems and stealing the private data of its citizens?

This act of truly bad faith, which has not been denied by the US government, and according to the National Security Agency whistle-blower has been in practice for at least six years, "does not bode well", in your correspondent's own words.

As a former Hong Kong resident, Lee Elliott should understand well enough the resolve of this city's inhabitants to defend both the rule of law and the freedoms which accord with the right to privacy.

Adopting the bully-boy tactics of "we're right and you're wrong" doesn't wash with a community that values justice in its true guise.

Griffin Jones, Tseung Kwan O


Punishment for betrayal fully justified

Edward Snowden's lame explanation as to why he leaked classified information to our enemies is a simple "snow job".

He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Whether he gets jail time or the death sentence for leaking sensitive, classified secrets will depend on how well our military laws are put forth in prosecuting him and others willing to sell this great nation down the river for their own twisted gratification.

Some think Snowden is a hero. Heroes do not compromise US security and safety by betraying our high standards of surveillance.

I agree with Peter King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, that Snowden has done significant damage and harm to the security and safety of America and our allies.

Herbert Stark, Mooresville, North Carolina, US


Ruling power fears solidarity on recycling

Louise Preston ("Embrace real change to be world leader in waste reduction", June 7) must have hit the right button to get a response from Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment ("Unjustified criticism of waste disposal", June 21).

I am making a simple, common-sense observation when I say that very little recycling is taking place in Hong Kong.

The government is not taking recycling seriously and neither are the people of Hong Kong.

But how can they really get serious when the infrastructure that would enable them to recycle is not in place?

You see overflowing recycling bins. They are of little use except as window dressing. All we get are programmes, the setting up of committees, and more rhetoric.

There is no doubt that achieving a goal of 100 per cent recycling would be very difficult, but there are countries which are serious about taking up the challenge, so why not Hong Kong? If we aim for the stars (100 per cent) we might reach the moon (80 per cent). There are two major elements needed to make this work, total decentralisation of the procedures and active participation of people everywhere.

The government seems set on a "single-bullet" solution, a huge incineration plant. It should take another look at benign waste-processing systems.

It is widely understood that there is little money to be made out of investing in the three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle. But there are a lot of employment prospects in all sectors from on-the-street waste management, to research, to hi-tech bio-engineering and so on.

What might make the government reluctant to implement a decentralised programme would be that grass-roots dependent projects generate solidarity.

Governments and their minions like to see people in their niches, arguing the toss continually. It allows for control by the administration. Community-based programmes negate that possibility in people-to-people interchanges.

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Waste culture an abuse of our blessings

In his 2008 US presidential election campaign, Barack Obama called for the need for change. Although he has not achieved all the changes he wanted, he has implemented some reforms.

When I look at our city, I am reminded of his words, because we also need change.

I especially would like to see us altering our lavish lifestyles.

There is no doubt that Hong Kong has a prosperous economy and for that reason we are very wasteful.

We are blessed and do not appreciate how lucky we are. We abuse our privileged position and send tonnes of waste to our landfills every day. We keep abusing our precious land resources.

World Refugee Day was marked on June 20. It commemorates those people who have had to flee their homeland. Many face the constant threats of war and hunger.

We Hongkongers should understand their plight and our good fortune. We should not waste food or anything else that can be recycled. If we do this, we can all make a difference.

Camilla Chung, Kwun Tong


Growing pains slowing down integration

I refer to Alex Lo's columns ("HK separateness is rooted in Basic Law", June 21) and ("SAR system undone by its own success", June 22).

I believe his perspective is totally wrong. The Basic Law was established because Hong Kong was different from mainland China.

The Basic Law is not the reason Hongkongers are reluctant to integrate with the mainland.

They feel passionately about this place we call home, irrespective of whether we were born here, are migrants or expatriates.

One of the reasons we love Hong Kong is the way the city continually changes and adapts, taking the best from all over the world and making these our own. But we like to do this in our own way and time, and on our own terms.

HKSAR is in many ways a typical 16-year-old; we don't like being told what to do and who our friends should be. So the more we're told to like and get on with our mainland neighbours, the more we find the idea insulting and repellent.

It is time for the Hong Kong government and mainland officials to recognise and embrace our individuality rather than try to quash it. Parents know that an outcome that might await them if they pushed a teenager too hard is that communication breaks down and the child will leave home at the earliest opportunity.

Hong Kong SAR, the "teenager", should be given time and space to adapt and grow with only a very light guiding touch from Beijing and the Hong Kong government.

Helen Cheung, Ho Man Tin