Letters to the Editor, March 30, 2014
Militarism is a cancer feeding on humanity
Pro-military Japanese politicians will not apologise for the sex slavery that their cruel military men imposed on Asian women before and during the second world war.
So what's surprising? It's the inherent nature of soldiers and their mission to inflict humiliation, suffering and death on others, including women and children. They are weak targets, the kind soldiers prefer - remember Dresden? War is "patriotic" and soldiers are forgiven, or rarely punished, for rape. Militarism and war are essentially about "survival of the fittest", our superiority over your weakness, with minimal concern for decency.
In this age, Asian women must work together to reduce the malignant power of military men by minimising the attractiveness of violence for our children. We have to teach our youngsters to respect other races and cultures, not to fear them as the militarists would have them do. Mothers have many years of spiritual and ethical guidance to give their sons and daughters, so it should be possible eventually to end the horrific damage that Asian soldiers have inflicted.
To counter the malignancy of militarism, there is a good analogy that can help mothers to guide their children.
We know the human race is one species, almost like a human body with many cells (races, nations) that can work together in harmony. But in our bodies, rogue cells such as cancer do not co-operate. They live in disharmony, obey different impulses and feed off the healthy organs, consuming needed nutrients, eventually killing the host.
Military men are like cancer cells, because all their energy and resources are designed to destroy and kill others, thus damaging our shared humanity and degrading and perverting society.
Worldwide military expenditure and constant "war games" waste trillions of dollars and pollute the environment. Why is that money not spent on education, health and human betterment?
Patriotic and knowledgeable Chinese women can demand apologies from Japan and can also work in all Asian countries, especially their own, to stop the spread of military cancer. It's easy to condemn foreign militarists: it's more difficult to deter one's own countrymen from indulging in the same abuses. To glory in a nation's deadly weapons and threats is to imitate Japan at its worst.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
No reason to live under a foreign power
I refer to the letter by Tony Yuen ("Hong Kong flourished as a British colony", March 23) in reply to my letter ("Agitators hope for Western intervention" March 15).
I am long enough in the tooth to have witnessed not only what my family elders and Mr Yuen's went through on the mainland during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution but also during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and in 1941 invasion of the colonies of Britain (Hong Kong, Malaya and Burma), France (Indochina), the US (the Philippines) and the Netherlands (Indonesia), thereby inadvertently decolonising.
I am not so young as to need to curry favour with China "to get on". But I never said in my letter that the waving of the colonial flag by some people should be condoned. They should be deported to Britain, though as Emily Lau Wai-hing said in a BBC Reith Lecture, "but you don't want us", which is what I meant by "alienating".
I have said to the Brits in conversation that we should be grateful for the good things that they gave us, however unintentionally. Should we also thank the Japanese for bringing forward decolonisation?
As Mahatma Gandhi told those who advised against India going independent: he knew life there would go downhill, but good life is no reason to stay under a foreign power.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Liberal studies too subjective for core topic
I refer to the letter by Lisa Chung Lai-yan ("Liberal studies not suitable as core subject", March 8).
As a secondary student, I absolutely agree that liberal studies should be an elective subject rather than a core part of the curriculum in schools.
It is said practice makes perfect, but there are no standard answers in this subject. Students cannot be sure of high marks even if they practise tests a lot, since there are no model answers to offer guidance.
According to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, only 7.8 per cent of candidates in 2013 could get level 5 or above, the lowest percentage among core subjects.
Liberal studies has been a core subject since 2009. I do not think the government has provided enough training for teachers of the subject.
There is no liberal studies degree, so at best they will have studied social sciences at university. Teachers cannot transfer their knowledge to students accurately if they lack training.
In the school-based assessment students are assessed by their teachers. The marks awarded count towards their results in the Diploma of Secondary Education.
In liberal studies, the assessment is called independent enquiry study.
Students need to research a lot of material, which places a heavy burden on them, mentally and physically.
People have different points of view, making liberal studies subjective and difficult to mark exam papers fairly.
Garick Wong, Tai Po
No time for after-school activities
I refer to the letter by Michael Wong Wai-shing ("Activities after school part of education", March 25).
He said that taking part in after-school activities helps students develop effective skills for learning.
However, that assumes that there is no clash between the demands of school work and activities.
Hong Kong has a spoon-feeding education system that ensures that there are competing demands between school work and activities.
Students have to spend a lot of time on their studies both at school and doing homework.
Taking part in after-school activities will only serve to make students stressed, putting a strain on their health.
Students who want to focus on their studies to achieve better results must therefore stop doing after-school activities. Any benefits derived from extracurricular pursuits will be nullified if students can't get enough sleep.
As a secondary student, I feel tired and stressed by this clash.
Stephanie Kuo Hsiao, Kowloon City
Smartphone addiction has gone too far
I am concerned about the overuse of smartphones in Hong Kong.
Smartphone technology has made rapid progress and they are very convenient, especially with the different games and various social networking apps.
However, there is a downside if they are overused. They can lead to estrangement due to the loss of face-to-face communication.
They can also cause neck pain if people spend too much time bent over the screen.
Of course there are bigger social problems that our government has to deal with, but the difficulties that can be caused by overuse of these phones should not be ignored. A government advert could be broadcast warning people to take care. We must be aware that smartphone addiction could become a problem.
Krystal Ng Wing-lam, Ma On Shan