Letters to the Editor, August 4, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 3:36am


'Inconvenient' internet users paying dearly

I refer to the letter by C. K. Chan, of HKT ("HK enjoys world-class internet services at world-beating prices", July 28).

Your correspondent said that as the company upgraded its "fibre-to-the-home" technology, it could not "be expected to keep the ageing copper-based network in operation. Indeed, as customers migrate to fibre, the costs of retaining obsolete network assets in operation for a smaller customer base increase dramatically, hence we also need to price the copper-based service higher."

Firstly, the "ageing copper based network" is the same network that landline phones use. It must be maintained in any case until all phone services have been made purely digital, which is probably decades away. The copper is just the "last mile"; the rest of the network is common to all media.

Secondly, regardless, what this means is that those customers who cannot "migrate to fibre" because no one is supplying it where they live are subsidising fibre customers who are paying less for a much better service. We have no choice so we pay a premium price for a lousy service.

I'm now paying 50 per cent more than last year for a DSL service that is slower than it was 10 years ago. However, HKT (PCCW) bean counters justify their practices, they create huge ill will and I will never use the firm's services if I can find an alternative.

This company isn't alone in spurning inconvenient customers. Two years ago Hutchison laid a fibre network on Lamma Island, along all the main streets - then nothing.

Despite probably all DSL subscribers being eager to switch to fibre, it remains dark. After it has saturated the lucrative 4G market, maybe Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) will consider allowing us home users to join its fibre network.

Or maybe we should start breeding carrier pigeons.

Alan Sargent, Lamma


Subdegree programmes get raw deal

I refer to the letter by Wong Ho-tai, ("Self-financed tertiary option raises concern", July 28) in which he made a number of unfounded claims.

The first, that knowledge-based places like Hong Kong have no need for associate degree programmes, could not be more wrong. A labour force anywhere is made up of workers with different levels and types of knowledge and skills. In this respect, it must include workers with knowledge and skills from vocational education and training, which, in Hong Kong's case, would be mainly the higher diploma graduates of the Vocational Training Council, and now forthcoming degree graduates from its latest member institution, the Technological and Higher Education Institute.

The second claim, that self-financed degree programmes are not recognised by employers because of their lack of quality, is also wrong. It is true that employers prefer graduates of the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities. However, they also take graduates of self-financed degree programmes, whether these are from local institutions or foreign institutions through top-up degree arrangements.

And as to the claim that academic standards of local self-financed programmes are questionable, Mr Wong might not be aware that these have to be accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications, a statutory body set up to assure their quality. And the fees they charge are typically between HK$60,000 and HK$70,000 a year for a four-year degree programme, which does not add up to Mr Wong's HK$500,000.

His time would have been better spent pointing out the perverse impact that the government's policy on post-secondary education has on equity. Subdegree programmes in popular areas such as business and hospitality are no longer subsidised, while such degree programmes in UGC-funded institutions are. Also, self-financed degree students pay higher fees than their counterparts in UGC-funded institutions.

As higher diploma and self-financed degree students typically come from poorer families, where is the equity in this?

Deirdre Stratton, Discovery Bay


Fate of white dolphin more important

I am concerned about the future of Hong Kong's beloved Chinese white dolphins.

I fear that these lovely creatures will disappear from our marine environment.

Their habitat is now being threatened by the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

They are so important and yet many Hongkongers seem to ignore the threat they face. When the giant rubber duck that was in Victoria Harbour in May was punctured, people seemed to care more about that than the fate of these living creatures.

Although we cannot stop the bridge from being built, we can still demand that the government does more to reduce the level of pollution resulting from the project.

Actually, there are many endangered species in Hong Kong, for example, some of the migratory birds and other animals in Mai Po Nature Reserve. Our city is seriously polluted because of our materialistic lifestyles.

So much of what we do makes the situation worse, from turning on air conditioners, to littering, or leaving large quantities of food at buffets. I think most of us know what is happening and choose to ignore it. We can no longer turn a blind eye to these serious environmental problems. In the case of the dolphins we must act fast before they leave us for good.

Micah Chong, Tsuen Wan


Buying out the competition has its benefits

I am surprised that among all the rumours about a possible takeover of ParknShop, we have not seen any suggestion of Wellcome coming into the picture.

Think of all the benefits for it, such as closing down maybe 30 to 40 of all its shops, offices and warehouses and laying off employees.

It would likely have an even greater share of the market and become even more profitable.

The supermarket chain could then bump up prices as high as it thought long-suffering consumers would bear, with little fear of competition.

And anyone who thought that our hand-in-glove-with-big-business government would do anything about it has another think coming.

John Wilson, Kwun Tong


Japan relies on atomic power, at least for now

Many people in Japan want the country to stop using nuclear power.

I wonder if anti-nuclear protesters consider it possible for Japan to continue its economic development without nuclear power.

Its reactors have provided around 30 per cent of the nation's electricity.

However, most reactors were shut down after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. Following the disaster, with plants closed down, there were power blackouts.

Rapid growth of Japan's commercial activities requires sufficient electricity. However, the country cannot rely on coal-fired power stations to produce all the electricity that is needed. Also, the development of renewable energy is still in the early stages. Nuclear energy, which is cleaner than fossil fuels, is probably still required.

In the short term Japan probably has no choice when it comes to nuclear power, but I hope that eventually the country will be able to get rid of its nuclear plants.

Susan Tao Tsz-shan, Kwai Chung