Letters to the Editor, January 26, 2014
Schools boost for ethnic minorities
Although some citizens may not have been too impressed by the content of the chief executive's recent policy address, I did appreciate one eyebrow-raising new policy.
A new Chinese-language curriculum for ethnic minority children to help integration in local schools will start from the next academic year. This may help the city's ethnic minorities enjoy similar learning circumstances to Chinese students.
It is hard for people from ethnic minorities to integrate into Hong Kong society since schools do not devote a lot of resources to teaching the Chinese language.
However, these students still need to face the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education when they are in Form Six and they may face more challenges than the local students.
If properly set up, this policy can strengthen the competiveness of ethnic minorities.
Though it is just the beginning of the year, and we don't know whether all the policies in the address can be fulfilled or not, helping ethnic minorities tackle the language problem is a welcome first step towards Hong Kong becoming a city of multiculturalism.
Candiz Ng, Lok Fu
Lack of feeling for our city's heart and soul
In his column ("Standing still", January 21), Peter Kammerer asserts that Hong Kong's "disturbing inclination" to "cling to its past" is insensitive.
He refers to Hongkongers' resistance to change as a "rot", which he observes was "most evident when attempts to tear down the Star Ferry and Queen's piers in 2006 and 2007 were met with unruly protests".
I'm sorry, but as a Hongkonger who grew up in this town, cares and loves this place and feels strongly that this is my home, the Star Ferry in Central and Queen's Pier were landmarks that made up the heart of Hong Kong Central waterfront skyline.
They were a lifeline for many Hongkongers who commuted between the two waterfronts for decades before the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and MTR came along.
They were meaningful and remained functional till the end. Would the same be said if the people of Macau - a city which Kammerer thinks is doing so well since all the gaudy casinos have spread so rapidly - protested against the demolition of the St Paul's Cathedral facade? Or removal of the iconic black and white paving stones of Largo do Senado square?
Kammerer's piece is the voice of a dispassionate resident, and someone with little investment in Hong Kong as a place of interest in the heart. If it's all about economic progression, then what's left of the soul of a city?
Sabina Wong, Happy Valley
Incinerator plan cannot be justified
Yet again, we are treated to the pathetic spectacle of the hapless Elvis Au struggling to justify the blatantly wrong and improper choice of the proposed mega-incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau ("Incinerator site was chosen after clear and exhaustive process", January 18).
Just reading the Environmental Protection Department's own impact assessment, it jumps straight off the page that Shek Kwu Chau is totally the wrong place. It will mean we ship all our rubbish to a remote island, use a lot of fuel to burn it up (Hong Kong's waste is too wet to burn on its own), and that will still leave a substantial percentage of it as ash to be put in another barge and shipped off to a landfill somewhere else. Where is the logic in all that?
Mr Au clings to "balanced distribution" of waste facilities. This is a nonsense concept anyway - it means looking at the map and saying "Oh, that place hasn't got one, let's stick it there." This could be applied to anything, and means we could just abolish the Planning Department.
In addition, the "balanced distribution" argument has collapsed now that the Tseung Kwan O residents have bullied the department not to dump municipal waste at the nearby landfill, rendering everything now "unbalanced".
Also, Mr Au shoots himself in the foot by boasting that government has been planning this since 2007. In other words, by the time it is all implemented, it will be hopelessly outdated.
Technology has moved on - there are better solutions out there now. Why can Mr Au and his blinkered colleagues not accept this?
R. E. J. Bunker, Lantau
People need help amid soaring rents
I have a few thoughts in response to John Fleming's ideas ("Rent controls are needed in Hong Kong", January 20).
Nowadays, it is getting harder to get an apartment because of the rising rents, while many people are on the waiting list for public housing.
I agree that the government should make more of an effort to control rents in Hong Kong.
Other than that, it could set up an allowance to enable Hong Kong citizens to buy a flat, which could then be repaid in instalments. This would mean more Hongkongers would be able to own their own home.
Also, the administration should be encouraging property developers to build some less expensive flats that grass-roots and sandwich-class people can afford and not just focus on estates for the rich.
Joey Wong Pui-ka, Tseung Kwan O
Phone users show lack of self-control
I totally agree with Kelly Lee On-ting's letter ("MTR's mobile phone plea is now ignored", January 20).
The MTR Corporation came up with an announcement asking passengers not to focus only on their mobile phones when travelling. For the first few weeks, passengers heeded the request and stopped using their smartphones. However, after a few weeks, they went back to their old habits.
This is very dangerous, as accidents can easily happen when people are gathered in a crowded places such as on an escalator or train station.
Use of mobile phones is not the only safety problem. I suggest the MTR Corp make similar announcements advising people to stand up straight while travelling and not lean against the wall of the train.
If there was a sudden crash or braking action, these passengers would be easily thrown to the floor.
In general, passengers should exercise better self-control and show more common sense when travelling.
Yumi Wong Sheung-yi, Tiu Keng Leng
Is China any more 'normal' than Japan?
I refer to the letter by Peter Lok ("Germany, not Japan, is now a 'normal nation'", January 19).
He makes this claim based on Japan not fully admitting to its atrocities during the second world war and says it should not be added as a permanent member the UN Security Council.
I do agree that Japan should fully admit to what happened in the war, but in this respect is the Chinese government really any different? Has the Tiananmen crackdown ever been fully accounted for? Certainly not. How, then, does China feel it has the right to ask Japan to do what it won't?
Which country is more normal? Japan is a democracy, China is not. Japan has freedom of religion, China does not. Japan has free speech, China does not. So which country is "normal"?
Terry Scott, Sha Tin