Letters to the Editor, January 14, 2014
Children in HK facing too much pressure
Hong Kong parents are very concerned about their children's schooling and want their children to be very competitive.
It is not unusual to see very young children, even one year old, attending nursery. And when they are older, they will often have to attend extracurricular activities after school or at weekends. I do not think it is a good idea to have intensive learning schedules for these young people.
Childhood should be a happy and worry-free time. Children should be allowed to play and mingle with their peers. It is not only good for their physical development but also helps them to develop their interpersonal skills.
If they have to attend too many extracurricular activities, this will have a negative effect. They may get home late, leaving them no time to rest and relax. This could affect their academic performance at school if they are too tired in class.
They may even grow to resent their parents for having to go to so many additional classes. This can harm the parent-child relationship.
Children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and build up interpersonal skills and self-esteem as they get along with their peers. Pushing them too much will harm their mental development.
Joyin Chan, Diamond Hill
Slow-motion replays can curb diving
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is absolutely correct to call time on "simulation" ("Blatter tells referees to crack down on 'actors'", January 4).
However, he is wrong to expect referees to handle this controversial issue because they have found it incredibly difficult to judge, especially as players' acting skills have improved. Unless a referee is certain, he should not act.
The issue of simulation has been on Fifa's agenda for a very long time, and was highlighted by Rivaldo's infamous histrionics in the Brazil v Turkey match in the 2002 World Cup. Blatter is avoiding his own responsibility by stating "the ball is in the referees' court" as Fifa has been dithering.
Blatter is a technophobe and goal-line technology was strongly resisted until Frank Lampard's World Cup "goal" against Germany made Fifa's ineffectual stance publicly embarrassing.
The solution lies within his own statement that "simulation is incredibly unfair and looks preposterous when viewed in a replay".
In real time, the referee's job is neigh on impossible, especially with the added emotional ingredient of baying supporters. However, viewed in studio comfort with slow motion, multiple perspectives and unlimited repeat functions, simulation is easily identified.
If Blatter insists that referees are to be given the responsibility to eradicate simulation, then they must be allowed to study the action retrospectively, perhaps together with experts in anthropometrics and kinesiology.
Once players realise that their actions (and antics) will be reviewed, exposed and punished, diving, shirt-pulling, over-aggression, feigning injury will diminish to a great extent. It is vital for Fifa to address these issues at the elite levels, because children copy the star players.
Football is our world's most popular sport and it is a shame that its governance is so appallingly poor.
Fifa's ineptitude is once again exposed by its general secretary's statement that the 2022 World Cup will be moved to the winter months, when Fifa's executive committee has not yet made that decision ("Valcke's remarks add to 2022 confusion", January 10).
Roger Emmerton, Wan Chai
Many people born in city do not pay tax
I have seen several letters complaining about the fact that following a Court of Final Appeal ruling, people who have not yet been here seven years can apply for social welfare assistance.
Many tell us that these people have never paid any tax and therefore they should not get this benefit.
If that is the main reason, then I should ask those people who send those letters to check what percentage of the Hong Kong people (born and raised here) do pay income tax.
This most likely is a very low percentage, thanks to the beneficial tax system and the scrooge-like wages our billionaire tycoons and others wish to pay.
Then have a second look and ask how many of the Hong Kong born and raised social welfare recipients have paid income tax at any given moment in their life, and that percentage will be near zero.
Many of those who benefit from subsidised housing drive big cars and park cheaply at their almost for-free apartment.
Why should we the real taxpayers subsidise houses for those who can drive a large car in Hong Kong, which is almost as expensive as renting an apartment on the free market if you take all costs into consideration, especially parking?
I do agree that social welfare should not be distributed too easily and to everyone, but simply saying that these people never paid any income tax is not a very grounded reason if we check the tax contribution of born and raised Hongkongers.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Firms could do more to help destitute in city
I wonder how most citizens react when they see a homeless person walking barefoot or lying under a bridge with only old newspapers as blankets.
Some people might stare at them or try to pretend that they have not seen them.
Hongkongers are now described as being cold-blooded. I wonder if this is the case and, if so, why.
I think it comes down to how our society operates. People talk about the prevailing social culture. They point to some entrepreneurs who are only concerned about making profits.
That is their priority and some of them see no need to offer a helping hand to those who are less fortunate.
They fail to recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility, because they are so intent on achieving prosperity.
Large companies, especially, should be setting the right example by helping the needy and therefore being a role model for other people.
Firms really need to do more to promote a loving and caring society.
Business people need to be more sympathetic and try to put themselves in these people's shoes and ask how they would feel if they had nothing.
The government also needs to offer more financial help to people who are in genuine need.
We are so busy, we sometimes forget about the poor in society.
However, we all need to take time to recognise the importance of lending a helping hand to others.
Lindy Pang In-yin, Kwai Chung
Housing policies must not be rushed
Some correspondents have pointed out that people here have to live in subdivided flats or join the long waiting list for public housing because apartments in Hong Kong are unaffordable.
However, I do not think we should lay the blame for these problems on the government and its hesitation in implementing the housing policies that some people think are needed.
One problem is to do with the attitude of some younger people when they seek a flat.
The fact is that there are many cheaper flats in rural areas and new towns situated in these areas such as Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long.
However, many do not want to move there because they feel that the flat will be too far from their workplace.
If they choose not to move there and get an apartment they could afford, it does not make sense to blame government policies.
I accept there are shortages, for example, for the middle class. But I object to the knee-jerk reaction to call for more public housing.
The government needs to think long and hard before coming up with a long-term housing policy. We do not want to see ill-prepared measures being implemented.
Officials should not just assume that building a lot more Home Ownership Scheme flats will solve our problems.
Jeff Chan, Sha Tin
Sunday is actually first day of week
I refer to Mike Rowse's article in the On Second Thought column ("It's time for calendar makers to bring themselves up to date", January 10) in which he only considered the Christian calendar.
The Jewish calendar predates the Christian one. Christianity came from the Jews. Jesus himself was Jewish.
The real day of rest is Saturday, not Sunday.
As such, the week starts on a Sunday as the first day, not Monday as he stated.
In Israel, Sunday is a regular working day as it has been for thousands of years.
Rome could not tolerate that Jews, Christians and Muslims all had the same day of rest: Saturday. So the pope officially changed the calendar and the day of rest to Sunday.
The Muslims could not agree with that so they changed their day of rest to Friday.
That is how Sunday became the day of rest for Christians but not for all. Seventh Day Adventists still keep Saturday as the day of rest.
As a closing thought, the word sabbatical is a year off and it comes from the Sabbath which is the real day of rest, the seventh day of the week which is Saturday.
Josh Zeitman, Bayonne, New Jersey, US