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Letters to the Editor, February 27, 2014

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:06am

No justification for this mob mentality

The mob-like behaviour of the so-called anti-locust protest on Sunday, February 16, against mainland visitors has defaced Hong Kong's distinctive reputation for good adaptability and generosity, treasured as core values in the city.

The protesters are causing more damage to Hong Kong's esteem and civility than any acts of visitors to our city.

Everyone in Hong Kong recognises the various impacts of a vibrant tourism industry.

It is a systemic problem that requires systematic solutions. Measures should be taken at the level of government and legislation with the broad public interest in mind, not by impulsive individuals who could possibly jeopardise Hong Kong's welfare.

Major cities around the world have undergone similar transitions and adaptations, but none has displayed such ugly self-indulgence as that witnessed on Canton Road. Public demonstration is designed to call for government actions when all possible channels have failed, not to serve as a stage for specific groups to purposely incite or harass the public and its guests.

The zero tolerance against such hostility must be non-negotiable.

The city's democratic readiness could be put at risk by the protesters carrying the colonial flag, which suggests Hong Kong should revert to colonial control. Raising the colonial flag corrupts the spirit of self-government that many Hong Kong people are trying to attain.

This incident raises the question of whether freedom of speech and expression has limits. If the people choose to abuse this right (or turn a blind eye to this type of abuse) rather than uphold the virtues of such a right, then Hong Kong is not ready to be governed under or to enjoy full democracy.

The government should work with the Tourism Board and local travel agencies to formulate an optimum strategy for directing Hong Kong's robust tourist traffic, in order not to deny the local residents' rights to leisure, recreation and movement.

Longer term, the government should consider business zoning to create specific retail hotspots or centres that could help reduce overcrowding. Yau Tsim Mong could be zoned as Hong Kong's jewellery extravaganza, or Causeway Bay the Fashion Avenue, Wan Chai the convention capital, Sha Tin as the electronic gadget hub, Central and Sheung Wan as gastronomic havens and Sai Kung as nature's paradise.

Les Gee, convener, working committee on tourism, Hong Kong Civic Association


Deep cultural differences can be resolved

I refer to the report ("Scuffles during protest over mainland tourists", February 17).

Although Hong Kong is part of China, there are cultural differences between the SAR and the mainland.

For example, mainland visitors are often accused of ignoring the city's laws forbidding littering. When they are seen discarding litter on the streets, this alienates Hong Kong citizens.

Nonetheless, if Hongkongers want to organise protests regarding mainland tourists, they should not be aggressive. People should be more positive and recognise that these visitors boost our economy.

Perhaps the central and Hong Kong governments could help to reduce the cultural differences. In the long term mainland schools can help youngsters develop a sense of civility so that they grow up realising, for example, that littering is wrong. The SAR administration could promote this kind of behaviour by putting up posters aimed at mainland tourists.

I hope we will soon see a situation where the air is cleared and citizens from Hong Kong and visitors from north of the border learn to put up with each other.

Lee Hiu-ching, Tseung Kwan O


Protesters vulgar and misguided

The "anti-locust" march held by a bunch of irrational protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui on February 16 was an imbroglio.

I could not see a clear theme of the protest except that vulgarities were exchanged between protesters and tourists possibly from the mainland. Some protesters carried the former colonial flag, while chanting the slogans "anti-colonialism" and "reclaim Hong Kong". What a contradiction. Did they know what they were actually doing?

Freedom of speech is one of the core values we must treasure in Hong Kong, but it must not be abused to humiliate innocent tourists regardless of where they come from.

Most Hong Kong residents are well-educated and civilised, and we should not adopt radical attitudes to get what we want.

Protesters complained that the number of mainland visitors was too high and that Hong Kong was unable to cope in terms of daily resources and infrastructure. They argued that this had a negative effect on our livelihood.

As I said, we have the freedom to express our opinions. The government has ways by which it listens to people's views and grievances.

On occasions when gauging feedback it has responded swiftly. For example, it imposed special stamp duties to cool the property market and placed restrictions on the export of milk formula. Hong Kong residents and the government should be able to be pragmatic and rational and thereby reach a consensus. Radical movements are not the answer.

Lastly, I would like to say that on February 16, the police showed no bias and maintained public order on Canton Road. Without them, I think the clashes could have been more serious.

Alex Pun Ka-hung, Ma On Shan


Provide some babysitting services

Hong Kong's population is ageing. It is predicted a quarter of its citizens will be 65 or above by 2031.

More significantly, the size of the workforce will shrink as the prime working age population declines.

For these reasons I agree with those who argue that the government should provide more training and babysitting services to help women who have recently migrated to Hong Kong from the mainland to enter the workforce.

With the provision of babysitting services, mothers who have come from north of the border to live here will have more time to look for work and a better chance of being able to take up an offer of employment.

Also, having a job can help them adapt to life in Hong Kong. They will have a chance to communicate with colleagues who are Hongkongers and acquire a better understanding of the city.

They can help mitigate the drop in the number of people in the workforce, making Hong Kong more productive. This is important if it is to remain an international finance hub.

Connie Tsui, Sha Tin


Not the right way to teach English

My son goes to a local secondary school. While I am generally satisfied with the standard of education provided, I must take issue with one practice which I understand to be common to all if not most local secondary schools, the use of memorised dictation to teach English.

As one who has learned four foreign languages in a classroom setting and who also has a few years of Teaching English as a Foreign Language experience, I see no educational value in giving students such exercises when it comes to learning English, or indeed any foreign language.

Native English-speaking teachers I have spoken to from various schools agree, and yet the practice persists, even though it is a waste of time for students and teachers. I would like the Education Bureau to explain, through these columns, why such ineffective teaching methods are allowed in English lessons.

Such exercises may have value elsewhere in the curriculum, but not in foreign language learning. Even though knowledge of English is widespread among the local population, I feel that it is in spite of rather than because of such outdated and unscientific teaching methods.

Perhaps it's also why some in the business community still complain about English standards.

Roger Phillips, Sheung Shui


E-learning has great potential in classroom

The Education Bureau has an e-learning pilot scheme at True Light Middle School.

I think there are advantages to using iPads in the classroom. Students no longer have to carry heavy textbooks in their rucksacks.

Also, a greater variety of teaching methods can be employed, such as use of cartoons, games and videos, which can make a subject more interesting. Students can also check facts via the internet, instead of having to look up a dictionary or ask the teacher.

This also reduces the pressure felt by teachers who, without e-learning, have to walk around the classroom dealing with a variety of questions.

However, e-learning still has some way to go and cannot be introduced in all Hong Kong's schools. They need the right kind of equipment and network support and publishers must produce suitable material online for all the subjects that are being taught.

There is also the risk of young people becoming addicted to iPads and similar devices.

The government must ensure that all schools are provided with the resources that they need.

If the administration does this, then the education system can benefit from e-learning.

Angel Yeung, Kowloon Tong


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"This comes after official statistics showed traders buying goods in Hong Kong for resale in Shenzhen without paying import tax make up 95 per cent of those who cross the border with the permits, with just 5 per cent being genuine tourists. "PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
@Les Gee. Truly messy piece. The rowdy crowd behavior has nothing to do with freedom of speech. People will swear during emotionally anger. Then there is the issue of execution. Shouldn't the Tourism Board work with the Chinese authorities on "educating" the mainlander tourists on manners and etiquette? This is the root of the conflict.
The young mainlander tourists I come across on the streets are nice. It's those over 40s that I believe lack manners.
Please do not insult the intelligence of the people of Hong Kong if they weren't ready for full democracy. Correlating foul languages with democracy is truly moronic.
Limiting freedom of speech is politically suicidal for any chief executive.
"Measures should be taken at the level of government and legislation with the broad public interest in mind, not by impulsive individuals who could possibly jeopardise Hong Kong's welfare."
I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately it often seems that the individuals jeopardsing HK's welfare are the precisely the ones at the level of government and legislation.
If by "similar transitions and adaptations", Mr Gee is referring to the tourism influx specifically, I would like to know which major cities he is referring to. London, Paris and Bangkok generally jockey for position as most-visited cities, welcoming in the region of 15m visitors a year. We have 50m. And the government gleefully expects 70, even 100m in fairly short order.
That this leads to ugly outbursts by a tiny minority of people should really come as no surprise. This city is overwhelmed; no other place on Earth even comes close. And Mr Gee's proposal is to create concentrations to avoid crowding (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one), in places that are already at saturation point. Where, precisely, is the "broad public interest" in this?
Government policy (or rather the lack of it) has put immense pressure on HK, and now that pressure is being vented, unfairly, on individual mainland tourists. Individual tourists aren't to blame, and just about all of us here in HK know that. Stop fretting about a handful of foul-mouthed exceptions, and start worrying about the remaining 7mio of us.
Tough task. Mr. Gee is trying to "de-supermarket" current congested areas by diverting crowds to individual "aisles" in different geographical areas. Whilst he understands the basic co-branding marketing strategies - an LV shop will attract people where neighbor Chow Tai Fok can benefit, he may not realize the force of money so unique in Hong Kong.
The rich landlords won't allow this as it is against their interest. Bigger area means lower rental rates, especially if the zones expands to adjacent districts like Causeway Bay to Fortress Hill or even North Point. Good idea but the government don't have the spine to fight against the super-rich.
SCMP, when will you give us a break from the vested interests plugging the "shame, harmony and integration" line re: the recent demonstrations? It was fully half the letters section today. I for one am tired of being told what to think by these types.
@ Les Gee - Hopefully your committee will have absolutely zero say in the direction of this city, because your ideas are moronic. You are suggesting rezoning areas for specific uses. Creating defined retail hotspots to "reduce overcrowding". Please, for the sake of the silly public reader that clearer doesn't know better than the completely inadequate HK civil servants, explain to us how directing mainland tourists from already crowded areas (Yau Tsim Mong, Central, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Sha Tin, Sai Kung) to the exact same "rezoned" crowded areas will in any way reduce the problem of overcrowding???
Spot on!


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