Letters to the editor, April 28, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 5:37pm

Too early for Ricky Wong to celebrate

Ricky Wong Wai-kay mustn't ascend into cloud nine just yet, as he seemed to be doing ("HKTV licence refusal unlawful, says judge", April 25).

Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung chose his words very carefully indeed when he "ordered the Executive Council to reconsider its October 2013 decision" not to grant HKTV the free-to-air licence.

The judge did not tell the Executive Council to reverse its decision.

As Hong Kong subscribes to the common law, its government might just adopt the UK government's stand towards judicial reviews, of which this case is said to be one.

That stand is that judicial reviews are "a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached".

"The court will not substitute what it thinks is the 'correct' decision. This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again so long as it does so in a lawful way".

The judge had in this case ruled that the decision was unlawful.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

 

Rap airlines for seat 'lottery'

I read with interest your article on airline reward schemes ("Airline reward schemes a 'lottery', council warns", April 16).

One problem that arises is with club members trying to book an upgrade while buying a ticket, and having to pay for the right to request an upgrade. Having paid, you would be notified that your request is on standby and the airline will let you know around three days before departure if you are lucky enough to get the upgrade.

For those unlucky enough to be refused, there is no refund of the extra money paid, which is pocketed by the airline.

Frustration occurs when the unlucky ones board the plane and discover empty seats in the class they were trying to upgrade to.

Unless the airline has a Hong Kong lottery licence, this system of seat allocation is clearly in breach of the Gaming Ordinance. Yet the Consumer Council's advice to unlucky customers is to read the small print.

This toothless council should say these airlines are breaking Hong Kong laws and then report them to the police for action to be taken.

It is little surprise that out of the thousands of disgruntled customers, only 26 have gone to complain to the Consumer Council. Most of us know that this course of action is a complete waste of time, and my approach is to take the matter directly to the Small Claims Tribunal where you get fair treatment and a decision.

I would, however, like to commend Cathay Pacific on changing their website recently and making it just a few clicks to book a confirmed ticket using Asia Miles. It definitely is the way to go, though this change doesn't apply to upgrade bookings.

Rod Buckell, North Point

 

Venture capital enabling HK start-ups

After reading Peter Guy's piece on "Cultivating a risk culture" (April 13), and as a Hong Kong company that was funded by Horizons Ventures, I felt that it was my responsibility to point out a few mistaken views in the article.

It may be hard to picture Mr Li Ka-shing hanging out with young entrepreneurs, but before Horizons Ventures invested in us, Mr Li requested to meet us and learn more about what we were doing and why we were doing it.

He wasn't in a hoody, but it was very clear that, like most successful investors, he takes a personal interest in the technology, vision and experience that make up a high-potential start-up. We spent quite some time with him and he was open to giving us advice and guidance at all stages of our company growth.

Also, Horizons does not only fund later-stage investments such as Facebook and Skype. It actually focuses primarily on earlier-stage start-ups and currently has a portfolio of about 60 start-ups around the world (Silicon Valley included) in critical areas that will shape and strengthen the future: big data, artificial intelligence, food technology and clean tech.

I hope this gives you some better insight on the actual situation.

We understand that Hong Kong isn't exactly a Mecca for start-ups but Silicon Valley is not the only place that has exciting innovations. Exciting innovations are taking place all over the world, with hotspots in places like Canada, Israel and Central Europe.

Venture capital is moving into these areas just as it did in the early days of Silicon Valley.

There is no reason that Hong Kong and the mainland will not likewise be identified in the future, particularly as investors and entrepreneurs are emboldened by constructive, transparent and predictable government policies.

Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan, cofounders of Nanoleaf

 

Cinemas need more than blockbusters

Something very strange is happening at Hong Kong's cinemas. At multiplexes all over town, suddenly there appears to be a choice of only three or four movies, in some cases even fewer.

Most movies appear to have only one screening a day while the 3D The Avengers: Age of Ultron is being shown back to back, 20 to 30 times a day from early morning until late night.

Cinema chains have long duplicated whatever movies are on show. But are we now to be given an even more limited choice, with one new release dominating screens to the virtual exclusion of all others?

In this case, a special effects "action blockbuster" in which a bunch of comic-strip "superheroes" do battle with a crazed robot - apparently aimed at an audience of eight-year-olds and/or adults of questionable maturity.

Even for diehard fans of this genre, surely the current scheduling amounts to overkill.

Regardless of whatever pressure has come to bear on distributors, Hong Kong cinema goers deserve a better choice than this.

R. Jones, Mid-Levels

 

Reconnect with purpose of education

I refer to the letter from David Lai ( "Tuition gives the better off an unfair edge", April 24).

Being a secondary five student preparing for the Diploma of Secondary Education exam, I totally agree with his view.

Students are not the only ones to be blamed for having little motivation and interest in acquiring knowledge; this education system kills curiosity.

Under the current system, scoring well in the exams is the major requirement to get a foot into the doors of universities. Thus, many follow the crowd to attend tutorial classes to obtain so-called examination skills to boost their marks. It seems that students themselves are not interested to learn.

Moreover, the way of teaching also brings down students' interest in pursuing knowledge. Take the biology lessons in my school as an example. The teacher spends quite a lot of time discussing past papers with us because, even if a student understands the whole chapter thoroughly, marks will not be given if he or she misses out some key words.

This is unfortunate because learning is more important than adhering to a marking scheme. Also, students who pursue extra knowledge should be appreciated.

What is the purpose of education? Adjustments are necessary to better our education system.

Tina Chung, Tai Wai

 

Runway critics must better their argument

I agree with Albert Cheng that activists have failed to articulate why the third runway is unacceptable ("Opponents of third runway are losing the argument and public support", April 17). Perhaps I could help them: here's why the runway should be rejected.

First, while avoiding mention of the environmental impact and flight safety risks arising from congested airspace, the government claims constructing the third runway would help create jobs in the aviation, retail and hotel industries.

I don't think so. Take the construction industry. Construction is hard work and draws little interest from job seekers. So creating more jobs is of no use when there's a shortage of skilled labour.

Secondly, at an estimated cost of HK$141.5 billion, the airport project will be the most costly infrastructure project in Hong Kong.

Yet it was approved by the authority while many questions remain unanswered.

The SAR administration's handling of mass transit infrastructure projects has fallen short in the past. Take Western Harbour Tunnel, which cost a lot to build but its high toll fees ensure too few commuters use it. So how can we put our faith in the authorities to get it right?

Dora Chan, Sha Tin