Letters to the Editor, November 19, 2013
Education system needs overhaul
It is acknowledged by most people that the education system in Hong Kong is not satisfactory. For the sake of the young generation, it needs to be reformed.
Some education experts have pointed out that the existing system is not good enough because it focuses too much on how to guide students to do well in exams.
The teaching method adopted only helps students with their short-term memory. I believe that acquiring knowledge is not about how good you are when completing all the exam papers. You should be gaining knowledge in order to enrich yourself.
I do not think that the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education is helping matters. Students mistakenly think that they will learn new things through memorisation. To me that does not constitute the genuine acquisition of knowledge.
The Education Bureau should consider reforming the curriculum.
It should be encouraging young people to interact and genuinely explore subjects. Through interaction, pupils can exchange ideas and this will improve their communication skills.
The school curriculum should not be geared to helping young people get into university.
It should help students to learn new things that they can apply to their daily lives.
Emily Wong Yuet-ching, Tin Shui Wai
Pacquiao can give fight cash to help victims
I am angered by the hypocrisy involving Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.
He may be a hero to his countrymen because of his "magic fists" that have brought him fame and fortune, so for him to say that he'd like to go and help his country's typhoon victims but cannot because "I'm in deep training for a crucial fight so I regret I cannot go" is a cop-out ("Pacquiao to fight for typhoon victims", November 14).
His handlers may announce that he's dedicating the upcoming Macau fight to the typhoon victims, but what would be nice is if he declared that all the proceeds of this fight (if he wins it) will go to the relief effort. And not just that, he can afford to donate part of his personal fortune as well.
His family has been reported as urging him to quit before he does more physical damage to himself, but it's all part of the native drama celebrities engage in. To think that he's being urged to run for president adds to all the lunacy.
L. M. S. Valerio, Tin Hau
There is huge sympathy for Philippines
I refer to the report ("Hostage tragedy deadline stays, despite typhoon", November 14).
I am ashamed to be a Hongkonger. Benjamin Panganiban, co-director of the Philippine Association of Hong Kong, describes the government's actions as "cold and heartless". To that I would add "petty, immature and amateurish".
Filipinos should realise there is huge sympathy for their plight among the general population of Hong Kong.
Laurel West, Pok Fu Lam
Britain and America poor role models
Though the United States and UK enjoy lecturing others on the fundamental legitimacy of universal suffrage, their own long and winding roads to democracy have become diverted into cul-de-sacs.
The Washington presidential and the Westminster parliamentary models evolved at a time when we still relied on horses for transport, and are now carrying a lot of old baggage.
To varying degrees, both these models have become dysfunctional due to their democratic institutions having been hijacked or held hostage by narrow special interests, either political or pecuniary. These systems no longer deliver good governance.
Accordingly, young people have become increasingly disenchanted and politically disengaged, as the dropping turnout figures for elections show.
When the young disengage, society may become unstable and dangerous.
The "Athens" democratic ideal of each and every citizen having a direct say in the running of the city or country has been a logistical impossibility, and therefore political representation was a solution.
However, present-day technology could easily facilitate direct online voting.
Politicians, captains of industry, the elite and civil servants abhor the idea that the ordinary members of the public can make up their own minds and vote, but this is the way forward for democracy in the 21st century.
Widening the franchise need not be such a difficult step, as it only requires an extension of the present structure.
Once the executive has proposed a bill to the Legislative Council, and the legislators have debated and voted, the result would be placed before the whole electorate for ratification by an ongoing monthly "Yes" or "No" referendum controlled by the judiciary.
In effect, Legco monitors government, and then the public monitors Legco. The Japanese proverb, "Vision without action is just a daydream, but action without vision is a nightmare", is apt to Hong Kong's governance since the 1997 handover.
Genuine democracy would keep government, politicians and councillors engaged with the community, and help stop the present paralysis of continual consensus seeking and political posturing.
K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill
Charge may lead to worse problem
I agree with correspondents who have expressed misgivings about the proposed waste charge.
I do not think this is a good idea and I do not believe it will lead to sustainable development in society.
The charge will impose an even greater financial burden than people already have to deal with.
Will the government offer subsidies to people on low incomes?
The charge will cause problems for people who are already struggling to pay for their daily necessities. Some people may be tempted to dump refuse on the streets or put it in a public rubbish bin. Rather than solving the waste problem, it could actually end up making it worse.
It would be better to place more emphasis on education, so that Hongkongers become more environmentally aware.
Yeung Sau-yee, Kwai Chung
Proposals do have some shortcomings
I understand that Hong Kong faces a waste crisis, with our landfills almost filled to capacity. However, I am not convinced the waste charge scheme will be effective.
I do not think a lump-sum charge will motivate people to reduce the volumes of waste they create, as they will just pay the same fee no matter how much waste they generate.
A charge for households based on the volume of waste might appear a better idea. However, some people would still try to find a way to evade paying the charge, such as throwing waste on the street, or putting their waste in other people's bags. If waste is thrown on streets, this could cause serious hygiene problems in Hong Kong.
Also, if the income from the charge is used to pay for a landfill expansion programme, then this will not reduce our overall waste problem.
The best solutions are for the government to build an incinerator and offer subsidies to the recycling industry.
It is also important to instil the right attitude in people and get them involved in recycling. People are so busy in Hong Kong. They may say they do not have time to separate their waste, but the government can help to raise awareness and change people's attitudes.
I appreciate that the government is trying to introduce policies to battle the current waste crisis. However, officials must think very carefully before implementing waste charging policies and recognise that some proposals have shortcomings.
Amy Kong Shuk-fan, Kwai Chung
Citizens might have to accept incinerator
A number of correspondents have commented on the government's proposal to charge for waste.
There is no doubt that a waste levy can help people to reduce the volume of waste because they can see the benefits of doing so.
However, even in a household where people are aware, there will always be at least a small amount of refuse generated. For instance, if clothes are torn or a piece of furniture is damaged beyond repair, they cannot be reused or recycled. People will still need to dispose of waste.
While officials have backed a new incinerator, citizens are selfish. No one wants such a plant (or a landfill) situated near their home. However, we are going to have to accept some compromises if we are to ensure sustainable development in Hong Kong.
I agree with those correspondents who have pointed out that there is no gain without the pain. We all need to reduce volumes of domestic waste, but also will have to support the proposed waste disposal projects.
Chung Chi-shing, Tsuen Wan