Letters to the Editor, April 26, 2014
Keep door open to local athletic talent
There has been much debate recently about locally based sports stars being unable to represent Hong Kong unless they relinquish their place of birth passports.
Young athletes aspiring to represent Hong Kong on the world stage need to see a clear and reasonable pathway to achieving their dream or our long-term status as a competitive sporting participant in Asia will be lost.
We already have a depleted talent pool as children approaching teenage years are often earmarked for a foreign higher education.
Added to this is the fact that representing Hong Kong will not necessarily mean you are a paid professional.
I have one solution to help ensure the talent pool seeking to represent Hong Kong remains here. A special passport could be granted to athletes who are selected for Hong Kong teams and who are able to meet two criteria - that they are permanent residents, and have completed their final three years of high school in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong loves to support its sports stars with great passion and pride, and most people living here choose to support the Hong Kong team as either their first or second choice in any tournament. The eligibility criteria I suggest would serve as an incentive for many young stars to remain here to finish school and stay on afterwards.
The government has made much headway in expanding the Hong Kong Sports Institute and signalling its intention to be competitive by attracting world-class coaches, and providing state-of-the-art facilities for athletes. If we can't supply a continual flow of local talent to the institute, this will all be wasted.
We need to quickly find a way to keep the door open for young athletes wanting to represent the city they have lived in for most of their lives, and provide them with a chance to compete at the highest possible level.
Fixing this barrier to entry will help us maintain sporting competitiveness in international events and ensure ongoing success.
Jamie Spence, Tai Hang
Flexibility needed over events funding
I am a retired sports promoter and refer to the report, "Mega Events Fund 'fiddled with attendance figures'" (April 17).
The Mega Events Fund, or the authority that created it, deserves the criticism. The premise of applying "unrealistic" criteria has been exposed.
Of course people are going to tell a half-truth in order to get funding. The system was flawed from the start.
The fund criteria cannot apply uniformly to all events. Some events deserve funding for reasons that don't tick all the boxes.
Of course there has to be a general rule of thumb to qualify, but the final decision should be made by a small group (say, seven) of respected, qualified and independent people and their decision should not have to meet every requirement.
Hong Kong needs firm leadership in matters that are not clear-cut. This is one of them.
Brian C. Catton, Tsim Sha Tsui
Peeing toddler outrage is inconsistent
The outrage about one mother letting her child urinate in public is all very predictable given her original sin of being a mainlander ("Hongkongers clash with mainland parents after toddler urinates in Mong Kok street", April 22).
Given most people's professed non-racism, can we assume that videos of drunk and disorderly white people urinating and vomiting in public every weekend will also go viral? And will it lead to demands for a clampdown on the number of white visitors coming to Hong Kong? I rest my case.
Lee Faulkner, Kennedy Town
Apply charges to help fight food waste
I agree with those who argue that buffets run against the principle of avoiding food waste at source.
They encourage greed and waste natural resources.
Food waste accounts for more than 30 per cent of the municipal solid waste dumped in landfills every day, and much of it is still edible.
Although the government has tried to address this problem, it is getting worse and the landfills are nearing capacity.
Education can bring about behavioural and cultural changes so people are less wasteful, but it will take time.
Hongkongers cannot appreciate how hard it is for some farmers who produce the food they eat, or what it is like to go to bed hungry. They have never experienced shortages of food and take it for granted.
Food waste charges must be imposed on hotels to get them to come up with efficient food waste management and recycling programmes.
Jody Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill
Course puts teachers under pressure
I refer to the letter by Paul Tattam ("No need for huge outlay of materials", April 22).
His comments do not fully reflect the teaching resources required for independent enquiry study (IES) as part of Hong Kong's liberal studies or the International Baccalaureate theory of knowledge subject. Mr Tattam suggests that teaching the "theory of knowledge methodology" does not require many materials but open- mindedness. He mentions his trips with students in Hong Kong, where he challenges them with questions about the environment.
He is right that when training students to think critically, teachers need not prepare lots of teaching materials. Sources for learning, like the artefacts he mentioned, can be found in everyday life.
Yet, in order to guide students through the inquiry-based interdisciplinary work, teachers must have basic knowledge of different disciplines, and spend time building on their knowledge base. This approach is similar to the IES. Local teachers complain about being overwhelmed with IES given the large number of students they have to coach at any one time.
The fact that both the IB and IES programmes require lots of teaching resources suggests that teaching "higher-order thinking skills" is no simple task. But, we should seek to learn from drawbacks in the current education system and gain insights from new perspectives.
Mandy Cheung, Wan Chai
Reduce private car numbers not bus routes
The government is promoting the rationalisation of bus routes with a view to having the rail network as the backbone of Hong Kong's passenger transport system.
Officials say that expanding rail lines and cutting back bus routes will ensure smoother traffic and better-quality roadside air, leading overall to a more efficient transport network.
I agree that these objectives can be met with this strategy, but does it really tackle the fundamental problems with transportation? Rationalisation of a bus route affects the daily lives of citizens, especially those on low incomes. It leads to people having less choice. Also, it can result in a bus company raising fares.
If the government wants to tackle the city's fundamental transport problems it should focus on the private vehicles on our roads.
Transport Department statistics show that the number of registered private cars rose by 73,584 between 2008 and 2012. Dealing with the problem of too many private vehicles should be the government's priority. This is the main cause of traffic jams and poor roadside air quality in Hong Kong.
Using railways as the backbone of the transport system will help improve transport network efficiency, but can the rail companies meet the government's expectations? Carriages are always crowded and on some station platforms, passengers have to wait a long time before they can board a train.
Officials must work with the rail operators to improve this situation.
Samuel Lai, Tseung Kwan O
Anti-Obama protest absurd and outdated
The Malaysian Muslims who protested against US President Barack Obama's visit to Kuala Lumpur this weekend are obviously a clueless bunch ("Malaysian Muslims protest Obama visit", April 19).
They accuse him of being "an enemy of the Prophet Mohammed". This makes them no different from those American "birthers" who insist he was born in Kenya (why else is his name "Hussein"?) and was allegedly schooled as a boy in an Islamic madrassa while his mother lived in Indonesia.
All that, contrary to the proof showing that Hawaii was his birthplace and his Jakarta school was an international one for foreign students.
What a pity the late Christopher Hitchens is no longer around to declare that "God is not great" as he did in his splendid book of that same title.
Fanatics displaying such total ignorance and a lack of common sense only succeed in making fools of themselves in this day and age when medieval mindsets are irrelevant and absurd.
Renata Lopez, Wan Chai