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  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:42am

Letters to the Editor, June 19, 2014

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 3:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 3:48am

Avoid illegal occupation of Central

I urge all moderate supporters of universal suffrage in Hong Kong to use common sense and not to take part in the so-called referendum scheduled to take place between June 20 and 22, or in the illegal occupation of Central, which may subsequently take place.

To participate in the referendum will only give the Occupy Central movement an excuse to claim legitimacy for the exercise, which is flawed, as the three options proposed, which all include the "public nomination" demand, resulted from radicals hijacking the Occupy Central "deliberation day".

Public nomination is clearly a non-starter, as has been recently explained by the central and Hong Kong governments. Hong Kong should be concentrating, instead, on the nomination committee to get the best possible deal for democracy in the future. I therefore urge Hong Kong people to ignore the referendum in the hope that by so doing the Occupy Central movement will go away.

As regards the illegal occupation of Central, I hope that all sensible Hong Kong people who may be minded to take part in this activity, and thus to break the law, will read the article by the secretary for security, Lai Tung-kwok ("Cause and effect", June 12), which I fully support. Law-breakers beware!

Consider, in particular, the likelihood of the occupation getting out of hand, fuelled by a few activists, leading to injuries or even deaths and damage to property, beyond the control of the organisers, and the possibility of our police force being overwhelmed, resulting in the need to call in the People's Liberation Army to restore order.

John Shannon, Mid-levels


HK's decline reflects lack of innovation

Lately, there have been a lot of media reports pointing to the decline of Hong Kong's competitiveness regionally and globally. Hong Kong does not lack financial capital or talent. So what is our problem?

Growing up in the 1950s in working-class Wan Chai, I witnessed the birth of a unique social subculture. Makeshift sewing factories housed in tin sheds were a common sight. Young girls and housewives would sit around dining tables assembling plastic flowers, wigs and even oil paintings.

The Hong Kong entrepreneurial spirit and flexibility represented a brand admired by foreigners, and this was the case from the 1950s right up to the early 1970s. There was an endless supply of unskilled labour capable of making whatever adjustments were necessary to earn a living. Trading dominated the Hong Kong economy when I was a child.

If our government and the business community had foreseen the paradigm shift and had the wisdom to invest and nurture a multifaceted workforce, rather than concentrating on financial services and banking, we would stand a chance of staying ahead of the game today in a world that is service-centric and driven by creation and innovation.

One possible measure that has been suggested in the past is to adopt a system of tax breaks for start-ups as an important inducer to developing new enterprises. Might I add that the government and the private sector should consider establishing a dollar-matching programme to invest in our young men and women who have talent and ideas for new firms or projects.

Philip S. K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam


Self-interest lies at rotten heart of Fifa

Undiluted self-interest was evident when Fifa delegates at the 64th congress now being held in Sao Paulo voted overwhelmingly to crush moves to follow the lead of the International Olympic Committee and introduce term and age limits for Fifa officials.

Fifa's 78-year-old chief Sepp Blatter seems to want to stand for a fifth term because his mission is not yet accomplished. ("The final frontier is not beyond Fifa: Blatter", June 12).

When Blatter refers to "our basic values of football of discipline, respect and fair play", he already appears to be from another planet, as this does not equate with the general view of Fifa. I refer to "Racist forces are trying to destroy Fifa, says Blatter" (June 11). It is not racism that will destroy Fifa but corruption. Fifa's main concern is the welfare of its own delegates.

Many fans would love to see Fifa depart for Mars. Then perhaps the world's most popular sport could be properly administered by professionals for the people that really matter - the fans, the players, the clubs and the referees.

Christian Rogers, Wan Chai


Students need immersion, not NETs

Vaughan Rapatahana argues against insisting on native-speaking English teachers ("Time to retire the native English teacher scheme," June 11). I agree, for several reasons Mr Rapatahana does not mention.

First, a great deal of research shows that progress in English is the result of how much interesting and comprehensible English students hear and read. A small percentage of this comes from teachers these days, thanks to the availability of electronic media, and, most importantly, interesting reading material.

Second, we want our students to be autonomous, to be able to continue to improve on their own after they finish the English programme. This requires that students learn about how language is acquired.

Local teachers who can help students find comprehensible and interesting listening and reading material, and who can teach them about the process of second language acquisition are far preferable to native speakers whose only advantage is an accent.

Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California


Is Beijing a tiger or a dolphin dad?

Sonny Lo ("Father knows best", June 13) uses the word "authoritative" to describe the nature of China's fatherly status towards Hong Kong. This implies a trustworthiness and self-confidence that leads people to respect and obey that familial figurehead.

However, "authoritarian" might describe many Hongkongers' view of China's paternal approach, implying a demand for unquestioning obedience at the expense of individual freedom.

It may be the difference in meaning between the two words that divides the two sides of the argument and determines the rival camps' judgment of the fatherland's intentions.

Chris White, Sheung Wan


Democrats are failing constituents

I refer to "Unpatriotic chief 'could pose a threat to sovereignty' " (June 11). After reading the State Council's white paper on Hong Kong, Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing is correct to now be more pessimistic about our progress towards democracy.

As a democrat, I am thoroughly disappointed in how our pan-democrats, particularly the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, have frittered away the consultation time on public nomination when this has obviously always been a non-starter.

Most democrats in Hong Kong do not want a stand-off with mainland authorities. These political parties are not serving their constituents' interests.

The quest should have been to ensure that the nomination committee is widely representative of democratic interests, rather than the usual vested interests, so that a reasonable choice of candidates could be offered.

It is now in black and white that loving the country and Hong Kong is a basic political requirement, but this is a patriotic red herring. It appears the mainland authorities will decide, and their view point will probably equate to loving the Communist Party. Whereas only an individual actually knows if they love their country.

Under the rule of law, the way to handle this is for anyone who wants to participate to swear an oath.

Charlie Chan, Mid-levels


Conformity in China stifling creativity

I would like to thank Edward Tse for his spirited rant ("Bright lights", June 9), in which he claims that China actually breeds innovation, for leaving me even more convinced that it does not.

His large-scale examples are faulty. China's space programme standard operating procedures, such as extra water for women astronauts, sound wholly lifted from US space programmes.

The fact that the country's high-speed railway is based on a conglomerate of intellectual property bought very cheaply from high-speed railways in Europe and Japan is well documented in China's own media. The world's highest railway is run on GE locomotives, and permafrost technology borrowed from Russian and Scandinavian engineers.

QQ and WeChat are consolidations of social media platforms that can be traced back to the US. If anything, Chinese entrepreneurs have been free to take the best and move faster.

It is impossible that a country with a population of over 1.35 billion is incapable of innovation. But its education system, the focus on conformity and the rapid economic growth are killing the prospect for now.

Emmanuel Daniel, Singapore


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This article is now closed to comments

@ stephen krashen
A 5-star TEFL bullsh*tter who has managed to make an entire career out of stating the bleedin’ obvious, i.e. someone’s exposure to a language may predispose them to learn it, at least if they can comprehend it.
Stephen Krashen - if you’re going to spend your whole life in academia then how about doing something useful, like advancing medical science?
Or how about getting off your backside and trying to make a positive difference like the rest of us, rather than pontificating from behind a desk?
Re: Dr. Krashen's remarks
I understand where Dr. Krashen is coming from, however, I disagree with the idea that the NET Scheme is anything but a positive influence on English education here in Hong Kong.
NET teachers are part of the effort to connect the students to meaningful communication. My observation is that when faced with speaking to another Chinese person local students see interaction in English as a chore, an academic exercise, but when confronted with a NET they use English in order to communicate ideas. NET teachers bring the authentic language experience the esteemed researcher knows students need for learning.
"Local teachers who can help students find comprehensible and interesting listening and reading material, and who can teach them about the process of second language acquisition are far preferable to native speakers whose only advantage is an accent."
That statement can be taken different ways.
Had Dr. Krashen said "far more preferable to *those* native speakers whose only advantage is an accent" I would agree.
However, most NETs have multiple advantages over the majority of local English Teachers. Not just phonological competence, but overall target language competence as well as the ability to help students both find and be motivated to find engaging and interesting language material.
NETs can, if deployed well, deliver those critical aspects that few LETs can.
@Stephen Krashen
'Native speakers whose only advantage is an accent' is indeed not desirable. The NET scheme does not employ such people, preferring instead to recruit qualified teachers.
'Local teachers who can help students find comprehensible and interesting listening and reading material, and who can teach them about the process of second language acquisition are far preferable'. Indeed. The failure of the HK system to support and encourage teachers with these qualities was one of the reasons for the introduction of the NET Scheme - the intention being to inculcate local teachers with Western ideals of immersion.
'progress in English is the result of how much interesting and comprehensible English students hear and read.' Indeed. What you fail to comprehend is that the vast majority of such material encountered by Hong Kong students comes from NET Scheme teachers. Without NET Scheme teachers students would be exposed to virtually no authentic, meaningful and comprehensible English in their daily lives. Again this was one of the main reasons the NET Scheme came into being.
"Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California"
THE Stephen Krashen whose actual title is "Emeritus Professor of Education,
Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California" rather than the Wikipedia version quoted above.
THE internationally recognized educational theorist who has, for 30 years, promoted the same core values and teaching approach adopted by the NET Scheme.
THE internationally admired academic and published author, referring to another academic as 'Mr' instead of the published 'Dr' and making contemptible distinctions between 'local' and 'foreign' teachers.
I think not.
Well - spotted.
It does indeed seem unbelievable that the real dr would write something so breath-takingly ignorant as the final paragraph's "only advantage is an accent" - that sounds like someone with an axe to grind and, unlike Mr Rayapatana last week, it's hard to conceive why on earth an american prof would have such a chip on his shoulder.
It's also very hard to comprehend that an Emeritus pofessor in the US has nothing better to do than browse the back pages of the SCMP, let alone respond via the letters section.
However, surely the SCMP are careful with these things before they publish?
I think SCMP owes readers a duty to check on this letter and either confirm that it is from the Professor, or retract it as fake.
(You ask all letter writers for an address and phone number. It's time to make a call.)
Mr. Krashen's letter makes perfect sense - in theory. However, the lack of knowledge or consideration of how things work where it matters (i.e. school and classroom) is staggering. It's very disappointing to see this kind of ivory tower academia / real-world ignorance from someone such as Mr. Krashen, most of whose views on language acquisition and learning I happen to share and, ironically, attempt (with much resistance) to promote to 'local' teachers.
@Stephen Krashen
What makes you think that NET teachers can't offer interesting material and encourage students to be autonomous? Many NET teachers create their own materials for the sole reason that many HK text books are awful. NET teachers offer a higher degree of subject knowledge and authenticity to a student's learning compared to a LET. This is not to say that LETs can't be good English teachers, because they are, but if a school works as a team with the NET the results can be amazing.
Your points brought nothing to the argument of retiring the NET scheme and actually made no sense I'm afraid. You just sounded very misinformed and bitter.
@Stephen Krashen
So Mr krashen we therefore don't need teachers at all because we have "the availability of electronic media, and, most importantly, interesting reading material." Who do you think sources all that 'interesting reading material'? NET teachers do! They work hard to provide an authentic English learning environment in local schools. They provide help and advice to local teachers of English and they frequently give professional development sessions to help improve the teaching of English in local schools. Know what you are talking about Mr Krashen!
@Stephen Krashen -
What drivel and there is not a cat in hell's chance that you are the real Professor Stephen Krashen! The use of 'we' gives you away!




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