Letters to the Editor, September 23, 2013
Disabled still struggle to be accepted in HK
One of the most uplifting stories to emerge from this year's Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education was that of Tsang Tsz-kwan who, despite being blind and hearing impaired, passed the diploma with flying colours.
However, while what she achieved is worthy of praise, it has to be said that the disabled who want to work and serve society, face barriers in Hong Kong, barriers which she is bound to encounter.
Employers appear reluctant to hire people with a disability even if they have better qualifications than a job candidate who is able-bodied. The government does not provide sufficient funds to employers so they can recruit people with special needs. Managers prefer employees without a disability to reduce daily operation costs. Even if disabled applicants have good academic qualifications they might find the only offer is an entry-level job.
It irritates me when I see the way disabled people are sometimes treated. Even worse, is when facilities to help them are opposed by other residents. Take, for example, efforts to build a disabled toilet in Wong Fong Street wet market in Kwai Fong as you reported in 2010 ("Calculating the cost of nimby objections"). Officials met opposition to the plan from some residents who "strongly objected to it".
People need to adjust their negative thinking. I hope attitudes will change and that such special people as Tsang Tsz-kwan will come to be accepted as pillars of our society.
Ng Ka-man, Kwun Tong
Teach civic education to tourists
I refer to the report ("Chinese link to Louvre ticket scam", September 13).
French police are investigating these forged tickets at the Louvre in Paris which may have involved "Chinese forgers and Chinese patrons".
This ticket scam at the world's most visited museum will definitely have a negative impact on Chinese tourism.
I think prompt action must be taken to tackle this alarming problem.
The police in France must try and identify the counterfeiters as soon as possible.
Also, the Chinese government must make a real drive to promote civic education.
Only if people are inculcated with proper values will we see a decline in such dishonest practices as the fake tickets.
Eventually, tourists will steer clear of such dishonest practices. Only if people are inculcated with proper values can such events be halted.
Counterfeiting is a serious crime and a diligent investigation is required.
The Louvre management, French police and the Chinese government should work together to get to the bottom of what has happened.
Wong Hoi-wing, Sha Tin
Captive whale photo in very bad taste
Your choice of photograph for Viewpoint on September 18 together with its caption appears to promote - to any of your readers ignorant of the issues surrounding captive marine animal shows - a Japanese aquarium's exploitation of rare beluga whales.
Meanwhile, in the notorious cove of Taiji, in Japan, entire dolphin and whale pods are being rounded up to provide such aquariums with their captive performers.
Those animals not chosen are being summarily and cruelly slaughtered.
Many of your readers will already know this and find your choice of Viewpoint photo in very bad taste.
Those who are ignorant of these barbarisms might well have booked a trip.
Shame on you for choosing to promote cruelty and ignoring an opportunity actually to inform your readership.
Hayley Jetson, Stanley
Disconnected teens need more help
The World Health Organisation estimates that globally there are about one million suicides a year. There has been an increase in cases of self harm among adolescents.
Some people attribute the growing problem to the pressure youngsters are under. However, pressure need not be a bad thing. It can sometimes be positive, encouraging us to meet our goals in our daily lives.
However, the fact remains that there are youngster who take their own lives and it has to be asked if they are being given enough support. Some young people spend most of their time surfing the net and communicate via internet platforms. They become increasingly disconnected. It is important to try and understand the difficulties they are encountering and help them to tackle them.
Schools must formulate strategies of well-being with social workers and psychologists providing counselling to troubled students.
K. K. Ho, North Point
Hotel a threat on path for pedestrians
When I wrote to these columns about a ridiculous application in front of the Town Planning Board for a hotel at 27 Lugard Road on The Peak ("Lugard Road hotel plan defies belief ", August 23), I thought it was a joke.
Despite 152 comments from the public condemning this proposal (and only six supporting), the application for the hotel passed; no danger of Hong Kong becoming a democracy. There were only minor discussions on the dangers of the additional traffic the hotel will generate, no discussions on the added 20,000 litres of sewage percolating above Lugard Road and most importantly no concern expressed about the precedent this decision creates for other properties at The Peak that are considering redevelopment.
Board representatives claim they are following Hong Kong's concern for preserving heritage buildings. As the building will be completed gutted to accommodate all the units and two three-story, unattractive egg-shaped buildings are being built adjacent to it, very little heritage will remain.
I wonder if any of the board members read the application in detail or have visited The Peak recently?
The hotel is of little value to the public, and creates great danger to a major pedestrian path.
Is it possible the owners have very good political connections? It will be interesting to see who will be the guests and what the room rates will be.
Hong Kong residents should protest this decision and demand a master plan for The Peak that maintains the trail for local and tourist pedestrians.
Then we can all safely enjoy spectacular views of our city without dodging delivery vehicles and tourists on tricycles and in cars and without inhaling the fragrant scent of sewage.
J. Lee Rofkind, Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong
Women free to express their views in India
I refer to your editorial ("Making India safe for women", September 8).
The rapes you referred to in Delhi and Mumbai were indeed shocking. Those arrested and convicted of such crimes deserve the harshest possible punishment. Tough laws and sentences can deter some men from such attacks in the future.
However, I cannot agree with your comment that Indian women remain second-class citizens. I have visited many developed countries and can say that women in India are as safe as they are in these nations.
I am not denying the flaws in India's democratic system, but advanced nations faced similar problems as they developed.
The country still has a long road to go, but you can see improvements, for example, in education and this is not just happening in big cities, but also in smaller towns, rural areas and even in slums. Increasingly, women are being seen as equal partners in a marriage and Indian women enjoy freedom of expression.
Some countries may cover up incidences of rape to protect the tourist trade, but this will not happen in India because of its free press. The media deserves credit for that.
I hope this kind of open reporting will have a positive effect on the press in neighbouring countries.
Ranjit Bhawnani, Tsim Sha Tsui
Good English language skills important
I found the comments of Wang Xuming, a former spokesman of the Education Ministry, interesting ("Call to reduce English lessons to 'save' Chinese", September 12).
He says English lessons for young children are hurting their grasp of Chinese.
Young people will need a sound grasp of English if they want a good job as adults. With globalisation many mainland firms do business with foreign firms and they want to recruit people who can speak English.
If English lessons are cancelled in primary schools as Mr Wang has called for, there will be an unbalanced focus on just one language. Parents may respond by paying for their children to have private English lessons, however. This will put families on low incomes at a disadvantage as they will not be able to afford tutorial classes.
Also, more parents from the mainland are sending their children overseas to study and they must have a good command of English. If not, they will find it very hard in a college abroad.
What the government and publishers should be doing is trying to improve the quality of textbooks in Chinese language lessons.
It takes a lot of time to learn a language and children should be learning English from kindergarten.
Kiki Chan Hoi-yi, Sha Tin