Letters to the Editor, June 11, 2014
Simple way for consulate to reduce costs
In the name of efficiency, security and cost saving, the British consulate transferred passport operations to the UK.
As someone who has been waiting for seven weeks to renew my passport, I have experienced none of these benefits. In fact, quite the opposite. My personal and business travel plans have had to be delayed or postponed because of the uncertainty of when my passport will be returned. Even so, it looks likely that I will still have to order one or possibly two emergency passports, at a not inconsiderable sum of money.
If the British government is really serious about cost cutting, efficiency and security, can I look forward to hearing the news that the consul general will be moving into the purpose-built British consulate?
At a stroke, this would save on transport, additional security and a monthly rent in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in the world (I am assuming the consulate is paying the market rent so as not to compromise its independence and impartiality).
British Prime Minister David Cameron, when talking about austerity in Britain, said we were all in this together. I certainly seem to be paying the price - what about the consul general?
Gareth Jones, North Point
Taxis will be of little use to DB residents
On June 6, Discovery Bay residents were informed through a circular from legislative councillor Ben Chan Han-pan, who represents New Territories West, that from November taxis will be allowed into the north area of Discovery Bay.
Mr Chan, as a good politician should, writes as if it will be a better place to live once the service is introduced. He says it will provide great convenience to all residents by improving accessibility. In addition, he claims that it will meet the various needs of residents, especially when there is an emergency.
We already have hire cars, which, despite a few minor differences, are like a taxi service.
In addition, how can most residents use taxis when there is an emergency when they are only allowed to go to a remote area of Discovery Bay?
This new service is either the thin edge of the wedge or it is designed to increase transportation for the relatively new Auberge hotel.
In the former case, one can imagine that it won't be long before taxis are cruising around the streets of Discovery Bay, soliciting customers, as well as being requested to go to a client's address. In the latter case, one incidentally more acceptable, the guests of the Auberge will have an extra means of transport, but residents will have to go to the hotel to flag a taxi and the whole affair will have nothing to do with urgency or emergency, the original premise of Mr Chan.
It is my contention that, unless a taxi service is very restricted, and remains so, the majority of Discovery Bay residents would prefer the more tranquil roads that we enjoy at present. It's one of the reasons we live here.
Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay
Course proves too tough for some students
As a secondary school student, I do not think that the liberal studies course is useful and it certainly should not be a compulsory subject in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.
I, like most of my friends, have found that liberal studies is difficult. You feel you are not being tested on what you have learned in the classroom.
Teachers will sometimes give us articles to analyse. For some gifted students, who are quick thinking and logical, this is not difficult, but how about the other pupils?
We all have strengths and weaknesses. If your abilities do not lend themselves to liberal studies, why should you be forced to do it?
Also, some of the areas are very controversial, such as Occupy Central, or the election for chief executive in 2017.
How can we be sure that the markers will be capable of being impartial, when opinions are so divided on these issues? After all, teachers and markers will hold political views.
Students may be so concerned about this that they will avoid some questions. This is effectively taking away their right to choose.
Also, they all have to do an independent inquiry study as part of the course and it is difficult.
Consequently, we are far more dependent on the guidance of teachers, because we are unfamiliar with a lot of the material that has to be studied. This leads to a substantial increase in the workload of teachers.
I do not think it is fair to expect pupils who are that young to complete such a difficult subject.
The Education Bureau must recognise that problems exist with regard to liberal studies and that, at present, too much pressure is being imposed on students and teachers.
Some aspects of it are leaving teachers and students exhausted with the workload they face.
There needs to be some adjustment to the curriculum in order to deal with the problems I have described.
Kolia Chong Chun-ping, Yau Yat Chuen
Grave doubts about idling engine ban
The legislation banning idling engines in Hong Kong is not helping us to deal with our air pollution problems.
Much of our pollution is caused by vehicles and power plants. The problem has got worse in recent years because of rapid industrial development in the Pearl River Delta.
These factories are now contributing far more to air pollution levels.
I think this is the major cause of the bad air in the city.
Until the problem from industrial complexes is dealt with in the delta region, the bad air in the city will get worse. Banning idling engines does little to help.
I am also concerned about what effect the legislation might have on some drivers on very hot days during the summer months.
Those who have to spend an extended period of time in their vehicle could suffer from heatstroke.
Also, some vehicles now use much cleaner fuel and so their exhausts do not emit much in the way of pollutants.
Because there are only a limited number of officers, it is a difficult law to enforce.
The key to trying to reduce levels of pollution that are generated in the city, rather than from over the border, is education.
The message must be got across to citizens about the importance of using public transport as often as possible instead of private cars.
Also, if households try to use less electricity, the power plants can reduce output and air pollution levels.
Helen Wong Yan-lam, Kowloon Tong
Teens can gain from part-time holiday jobs
It is common in the most popular shopping areas of Hong Kong, such as Mong Kok, to see teenagers with holiday jobs, for example, as sales assistants or waiters. More youngsters are now taking these temporary jobs and I think they can prove beneficial.
If they are working in a restaurant, by talking to customers they can improve their communication skills. This can stand them in good stead when they enter the workplace full time.
Also, they will have a greater appreciation of money as they are earning wages. They can learn from a relatively early age about the importance of saving.
They can learn more about management and multi-tasking and these are skills that are useful with their academic studies. It is important to plan well with your timetable.
Overall, I think it is a good idea for teenagers to take these part-time jobs.
Jane Wong, Sham Shui Po