Letters to the Editor, May 16, 2014
HK tourists also guilty of misbehaviour
The recent negative reactions over mainland Chinese behaviour in Hong Kong demonstrate our lack of understanding and tolerance.
Without understanding and tolerance, and a sense of history and cultural development, those who criticise these frowned-upon acts display their own hypocrisy and ignorance.
Countries and races develop in different stages and at different speeds.
Our grandparents and great-grandparents could well have been guilty themselves of such behaviour as recently as 50 years ago.
People living in Victorian or even Edwardian England could not have been that much better. Can we not have a longer-term perspective?
And how often do we misbehave when we ourselves are abroad?
How about rushing to restaurant tables instead of waiting to be seated, deploying family members and friends to different queues in order for all to be the quickest as a group, talking loudly and slamming doors in hotel corridors in the middle of the night, "reserving" or occupying more seats than needed, chatting during performances at concerts and operas and so forth? One always knows there is a Hong Kong group of visitors nearby when on holiday.
I think we have to be realistic. Hong Kong needs these tourists.
We should just be grateful that we are fortunate enough to be ahead of them on these issues, and that we should do our best to show our understanding and our tolerance. And we should be glad we didn't have the Cultural Revolution that, over a decade, turned a most civilised nation into the one that we seem to like complaining about today.
A. Tam, Jardine's Lookout
Pubs putting profit before hygiene
The acrid stench of stale alcohol and the refuse associated with "having a good time", in the form of broken bottles, smashed glasses, discarded cans and vomit on pavements and gutters that commuters are exposed to every morning, are not confined to Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong. You also see them in upmarket Wyndham Street. They are a disgusting sight and a blight on our city.
The government does a marvellous job of keeping our streets clean, only to repeatedly be taken for granted and abused by profiteering bar owners.
A solution would be for the authorities to notify all the owners that cleaning services will abruptly be discontinued.
The resulting rubbish piling up on their doorsteps would soon be taken care of.
Frank Fischbeck, Central
Wan Chai bars working to recycle glass
We refer to Rob Chipman's letter ("Bars should be made to keep streets clean", May 13), which requires clarification.
Littering of any kind is unacceptable - on that point we all agree.
We all need to contribute to rubbish disposal, collection and, where possible, recycling. This is not the sole responsibility of government but a collective effort of the public and private sectors and the population.
This collective effort in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai extends to bar, restaurant, hotel and nightclub owners and convenience stores. However, to lay the blame squarely on the bars is an inaccurate and uneducated assumption.
As owners of three popular bars in Lockhart Road (the White Stag, Devil's Advocate and the Doghouse), we have a very rigid daily bottle disposal and collection process we run through Green Glass Green (www.greenglass.org.hk), a fabulous glass recycling initiative run by April Lai. A total of 15 bars in Lockhart Road use this recycling facility.
While we sympathise with Mr Chipman's comments, we would urge the Lockhart Road business community, including the major convenience stores, to collaborate in the same recycling initiative to keep our streets clean, healthy and safe for everyone's future enjoyment.
Michelle Price and Paul Buxton, Wan Chai
Deadline real problem with rail link project
The ex-chairman of the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Michael Tien Puk-sun, wants to extract blood from the MTR Corporation management over the recently announced delay in completing the cross-border express rail line.
Does he not realise that the original completion date of 2014/2015 was politically motivated? There was never any possibility of the line being opened before 2017.
The aim of the government at the time was to rush this white elephant project through the Legislative Council as quickly as possible and get the necessary funding, and it achieved its aims.
Mr Tien's own pet project while KCR chief was the Sha Tin-Central link. It was subject to delays and will now not be ready until 2020. So can he expect a more complicated and challenging engineering undertaking to be ready by 2015?
He is not too happy with the MTR Corp chief executive Jay Walder's apology for the delay because he wants heads to roll.
However, it was unfair for legislators to call for Mr Walder's resignation, given the complexity of the high-speed- rail project. Mr Tien, as chairman of Legco's railways subcommittee and having first-hand knowledge of the Sha Tin-Central link, is barking up the wrong tree.
Instead of looking for those responsible for the so-called delay, he should be targeting those ministers who gave the absurd deadline in the first place to fool the people of Hong Kong.
Lal Daswani, Tsim Sha Tsui
Expand use of TCM to treat drug addicts
I am pleased to learn that a programme to help drug addicts using acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has had positive results.
Before the introduction of TCM, often addicts' only choice was to take methadone, which does not work for all of them and can result in unpleasant side-effects.
Western medicine often involves taking a lot of pills, but with TCM, in addition to acupuncture, addicts are being given herbal remedies. I hope the government can help to ensure wider use of this form of treatment.
Natalie Lo Suk-ting, Tsuen Wan
Schools need to encourage creativity
As someone who studied in the US and Hong Kong, I am aware of the differences between the two education systems.
Here, emphasis is placed on spoon-feeding students information that is often of little real use to them. Instead of teaching students how to apply what they learn, it insists on continual memorisation without application.
Also, Hong Kong's youngsters have a lot more textbooks and homework. When it comes to encouraging creativity, which should be the priority, the US wins outright. The acquisition of knowledge is important, but it should not be divorced from encouraging students to be creative. You cannot do that in classes where cramming is the order of the day.
The education system in the US places little emphasis on memorisation in high school. Instead, it encourages students to apply what they learn.
US students learn far less through memorisation than their Hong Kong counterparts. But they are encouraged to put the knowledge they have acquired to practical use.
I do not see any point in the spoon-feeding process that exists here, as its sole purpose seems to be to help young people pass exams.
Education should not be about churning out robots from a factory. It should be about helping to nurture youngsters so that they can become better people.
I am a tutor and think that all students are unique.
Forcing them to learn in the way it is done in Hong Kong schools can kill off their interest in real learning.
Many of them may grow up never actually fulfilling their potential in society.
The education system in Hong Kong should encourage creativity so that youngsters can fulfil that potential and play an important role in society.
Stephen Fu, Tin Shui Wai
Lawmakers must address wealth gap
I do not support the financial secretary's budget. The government's huge surplus has not been used to ease the misery of the less privileged, who every day have to deal with runaway inflation and the high cost of living, especially housing.
But neither do I support the minority of radical legislative councillors and their politically motivated filibuster tactics.
Their activities are likely to do more harm than good to the local community, already affected by conflicts and a lack of peace and order.
If politics means compromise, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should have discussions with lawmakers, with a view to finding fair and reasonable concessions that can reduce the wide gap between rich and poor.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong