Letters to the Editor, April 9, 2014
HK Fan Zone report painted unfair picture
Your report, "Fan zone a wash-out" (March 30), not only portrayed a negative image of one of the major success stories of this year's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, but also failed to provide your readers with a fair assessment of the situation.
TCOB Events is the event producer of HK Fan Zone, and it is inevitable that an outdoor event such as the HK Fan Zone will be temporarily affected by an amber rainstorm signal, with visitors advised to seek proper shelter and low-lying ground becoming prone to flooding. Similarly, any outdoor event in Hong Kong would be seriously affected should that signal become red or black.
To base your article's assessment of the fan zone on a visit to the venue shortly after the amber signal, when visitor numbers were understandably low and while large puddles had formed in the music arena, was not only an unfair representation of the facts, but also did your readers a considerable disservice in the process.
Had your journalist come to the HK Fan Zone on Thursday or Friday evening, or indeed later that evening, he would have witnessed more than 8,000 revellers enjoying some fantastic entertainment from some of Hong Kong's and the world's leading artists as the atmosphere - traditionally associated with Hong Kong Stadium - spilled over to Central.
I hope the article didn't dissuade too many of your readers from joining more than 15,000 visitors who did enjoy a great family day out at the HK Fan Zone on Sunday.
If Hong Kong is to live up to its mantra of "Asia's World City", then it desperately needs to embrace new initiatives such as the HK Fan Zone. In this instance, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and Hong Kong Tourism Board should be commended for their actions in seeking to broaden the access and appeal of our leading sporting event to larger sections of the community.
For the record, more than 45,000 visitors enjoyed the carnival atmosphere and entertainment on offer at the HK Fan Zone from Tuesday to Sunday. It's a figure that, with the capacity issues presented by the Hong Kong Stadium and a genuine demand for live entertainment of this kind in Hong Kong, I can only see increasing in years to come. I very much hope that the Post will support us along the way.
Alex Brazendale, managing director, TCOB Events
Just a veneer of democracy unacceptable
The question "Is there a pan-democrat Beijing would allow to run?" (April 8) shows its undemocratic stripes, and makes a mockery of democratic choice. So is the suggestion by a "pro-establishment politician" that if the pan-democrats "promise" not to field a candidate for the 2017 election for chief executive, they could "press the central government to pledge a less stringent nomination threshold".
Should we settle for a mere democratic veneer? This is what authoritarian states need to shore up their so-called legitimacy.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Schools must be wiser about special needs
Under the recent wave of education reform, one of the highlights is the introduction of inclusive education, which refers to the move of (re-)integrating students with special educational needs into the mainstream.
In the West, inclusive education sets out to provide quality education to all - especially the students with special educational needs who would otherwise be marginalised. Hong Kong is not ready to celebrate such diversity in schools.
Most frontline teachers don't have adequate knowledge about, or effective strategies for, handling a mixed class that contains such learners. Only a few of them have received relevant in-service training from the Education Bureau, while almost none took any relevant course during pre-service training.
As a result, they usually lack the ability to provide appropriate support, be it social, emotional or intellectual, to those with special needs.
As a first step, the Education Bureau and tertiary institutions should put their heads together to add a compulsory component focused on special educational needs to the teacher training curriculum. (At present, those courses are mostly electives.) In so doing, we can make sure teachers will slowly get used to teaching in an educationally inclusive context, capitalising on their theories and experience.
It is impossible to call a halt to the policy because of the insurmountable consequences of removing from the classroom students already incorporated in the mainstream.
For the time being, to ensure a more seamless transition, the government should allocate more funds to hire more professionals in residence at schools, such as educational psychologists, occupational and speech therapists, and psychological counsellors. Hopefully, as time goes by, the inclusive policy will work its magic to realise the ideal of "no child left behind".
Ryan Kam, Sham Shui Po
Roadside litter near cemetery is just selfish
I'm writing to mention how environmentally irresponsible some Hong Kong citizens were at the weekend.
Saturday was Ching Ming festival. Many people showed respect to their ancestors and cleaned the tombs.
As I went hiking that morning, I witnessed the grassland along the road to Chai Wan Cemetery deliberately littered. It is not only a matter of visual pollution but also people's selfishness. Our schools and advertisements try to arouse public concern and highlight the responsibilities of being a Hong Kong citizen. I hope they realise that showing respect to the environment is one of them.
Prisca Lam, Chai Wan
Same financial scenario hits middle class
Last year the actual cost of my rates and government rent went up by 44 per cent - an increase in rateable value of 15 per cent compounded by the slashing of the rates concession.
This year I face a further hike of 21 per cent - an 8 per cent increase in rates and government rent, plus a further slashing of the rates concession.
I thought property values were supposed to have come down, but apparently the value is determined by the supposed "rental value on the open market" on October 1 the previous year; that is, the rateable value is always six months out of date.
There has to be a fairer way to assess the rates for people's homes, as opposed to properties purchased for investment.
Yet again, while the low-income sector justifiably receive some support, the middle class get clobbered, and the rich get richer.
Sherry Lee, Ma Wan
A firebrand legislator with good sense
Generally our legislators, from both the functional and the geographical constituencies, are more interested in their own egos and narrow representation than in improving the quality of life in Hong Kong in political and practical ways.
But there is one legislator who stands out as having sharp political nous and who relates capably to his constituents. Leung Kwok-hung belies his media image as an implacable radical firebrand, and anyone who has spent any time with him realises that he has an uncommon ability to listen calmly and interact.
I was therefore pleased, and also not surprised, to read that he wanted to "seize the chance to confront Beijing officials" ("Long Hair 'very likely' to go on Shanghai trip", March 29).
Good on you, Mr Leung. You stand out from the others for your political sense and courage.
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai