Letters to the Editor, August 19, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 3:08am

Evening class for pupils from the mainland

The influx of mainland cross-border children has displaced many local schoolchildren from their own school district.

These local young learners face a long commute to and from school and this wastes a lot of time. It means they have less time to revise, rest and play. This takes a toll on their schoolwork and their health.

One suggestion put forward was for a new school district to be established for the mainland pupils.

The government has said it will consider the possibility of opening schools across the border. I do not think it would be plausible to open schools outside Hong Kong to satisfy such a volatile demand that is dependent on mainland parents' personal choice.

Some day there will be no more cross-border pupils and these campuses will no longer be needed.

It would be a waste of taxpayers' money to acquire school campuses to satisfy a large but transient demand for primary schools.

Also, building more local campuses might not be sensible. There might be some uncertainty about eligibility of some children.

If the Basic Law was amended so that children born here of mainland mothers were not regarded as residents, then Hong Kong would no longer have a duty to provide them with an education.

I think the best solution would be staggered times. Pupils living outside the city would be scheduled for afternoon and evening schools.

This would mean they would not have to get up early in the morning. They would be going to the same campus as local children, but at different times.

This would ensure that existing campuses were fully utilised and these children would not be competing for places with local pupils. I see this as a financially prudent win-win solution for all.

Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong


Banding in schools makes perfect sense

I refer to the letter by Jimmy Chan ("Banding has created real inequality", August 12) in which he criticises the banding system in schools for categorising and neglecting the less able students. I entirely disagree with him.

In a maths class comprising students of mixed ability, some students would be aiming for an A grade and others for a D.

What should you do as a teacher? Do you focus on teaching basic and simple multiplication, which the less able students find it reasonably challenging to grasp, and neglect the top students who already fully understand it? Or do you focus on advanced complex trigonometry and calculus, which even the more able students need help and guidance with, and neglect the less able students who won't understand trigonometry at all because they still can't do multiplication?

I believe by grouping students into classes according to their abilities, we prevent the dilemma I described, and this ensures students are not neglected.

Students learn more efficiently in the banding system where teachers can tailor their teaching according to their pupils' needs.

Louis Yee, Quarry Bay


In-vitro meat can prevent suffering

Taste testers in London sampled the world's first laboratory-grown hamburger earlier this month.

Dutch scientist Mark Post, who created the burger, predicts that in-vitro meat could be commercially available in as little as 10 years. Although I don't eat meat (and I don't miss it) I can't wait until this kind of meat is more widely available.

Switching to in-vitro meat will help stop animals' suffering, reduce carbon emissions, conserve land and water, and make the food supply safer. Scientists even say that laboratory-grown meat will require up to 60 per cent less energy than conventional meat.

And eating meat that was created from stem cells in a sterile laboratory seems much more appetising than eating the dismembered body parts of pigs, chickens, cows, and other animals which are raised in filthy factory farms and slaughtered on killing floors that are covered with blood and faeces.

But don't worry if you don't want to eat in-vitro meat, or animal flesh. Great-tasting mock meats and other vegan foods are readily available in local supermarkets, health food stores, and restaurants. I urge your readers to give them a try.

Jason Baker, vice-president of international operations, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia


Thin-skinned regime fears criticism

Despite Phil C. W. Chan's assertions ("A valid voice", August 7), there are universal human rights, which China has signed up to, binding or not, and the fact that one country ignores them does not justify the action of another country.

Mr Chan ignores the true reason why China always objects to interference within another country, however strongly justified, and that is because its leaders don't want any justification for interference in their internal affairs, hence the Syrian veto.

Mr Chan's claim that it is done for some altruistic motive to protect "national sovereignty" worldwide, is nonsense. It is all about self-preservation. Why is China so sensitive about interference in its sovereignty? Again, Mr Chan claims this is because of historic colonial interference. Whatever colonial interference there was ended for the mainland more than 70 years ago, and for Hong Kong 16 years ago.

The true problem is that nobody who believes in democracy can accept that China has a legitimate government, as its people have no say in who governs, or how they govern.

The rest of the world deals with China's government because it has to. The leaders in Beijing know that a popular uprising in their country that would lead to a democratic government would be recognised in a heartbeat by most others.

True, Britain ran a colonial non-democratic regime in Hong Kong. So ask ordinary citizens what they preferred, that or the current shambles foisted on us by Beijing. Eight years after I retired as a police officer, I am still generally addressed in my village as "Ah Sir". That is a reflection of the public respect for the police force. Colonial governors used to go on walkabouts, and for the most part were greeted with enthusiasm. I'd like to see our current chief executive try that.

Mr Chan talks as a one-sided apologist for China's military dictatorship. His most laughable contribution was to suggest that China's claim to the whole of the South China Sea was being made in accordance with international law. Really?

Robert Highfield, Sha Tin


Teacher was setting bad example

When I first watched the YouTube video of primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze arguing with police over the way they were handling a demonstration, I was not sure about her intentions.

My Cantonese is not very good and I didn't get all the words, but I was able to understand a lot from the way she was behaving. She was rude and was swearing at police.

This is not just a personal issue, but one that relates to society. She had clearly lost her self-control and was not behaving as citizens are supposed to behave in a society and I would not expect this of a primary school teacher. She should be setting an example to young children.

However, we also have to ask what we want for the next generation. Do we want children to grow up in a society where they feel unable to speak out, or show their true emotions, and are unable to make a difference?

Jo Au, Kowloon Bay


Sceptical about energy-saving subsidies

I am a retired businesswoman and am concerned about how difficult it is to run a business in Hong Kong nowadays.

I certainly don't agree with Greenpeace that a power firm should give out hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidise people to buy energy-saving electrical appliances ("CLP called on to give HK$300m handouts", August 13). Any subsidy should be paid by the government.

Moreover, how sustainable is it to give out money to persuade people to save energy?

I am worried that Hong Kong will lose its competitiveness if pressure groups keep trying to force listed companies to run businesses as these groups think they should.

Helen Chan, North Point


Make it much tougher to be a dog breeder

The uncontrolled practice of dog breeding exacerbates the problem of stray dogs with breeders forcing their animals to mate regardless of demand from customers.

A complete ban on the dog breeding business is desirable but not feasible. However the government should restrict the number of breeders.

People who want to take up this line of business should have to attend courses where they learn about medication and care of dogs and then have to sit a demanding test before being issued a licence. This would be better than the licensing proposals announced by officials earlier this year.

Alex Law, Tsuen Wan