Letters to the Editor, May 23, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 May, 2015, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 May, 2015, 5:19pm

A seat is much appreciated by those in need

I am eight months pregnant and commute to work daily on the MTR. I have been keeping track of how often a kind person will offer their seat to me. The answer is about 20 per cent of the time.

To my surprise, I have noticed that more than 55 per cent of the time I am offered a seat, it is from a middle-aged man. Unfortunately, it seems my fellow women usually couldn't care less about other women in their vicinity. They are too absorbed in crushing candy on their mobile phones.

Teens are the worst, both boys and girls. Forget about the elite school uniforms because they don't mean anything when it comes to offering MTR seats to the needy.

Although we cannot draw any definitive conclusions, I think this gives us a glimpse of our future in Hong Kong and how well we have taught them to lead the way. It looks as if we can do better.

I don't expect to be offered a seat simply because I am a woman, and I don't want to be given special treatment for no reason. I do, however, have a bulging stomach and am carrying 11kg on top of my normal weight. My calves cramp on a regular basis, and my feet are in a constant state of fatigue.

I occasionally lose balance in the most undesirable of situations. As much as I hate surrendering to my physical "weaknesses" due to my pregnant state, it is a fact. So, on your next MTR ride, if you happen to have a seat, I would appreciate it if you spared a moment from staring at your mobile phone at regular stop intervals and see if there is anyone in need of a seat.

Also, if you aren't in need, don't sit in a priority seat: that seat is not for you.

If you aren't sure whether the lady is pregnant, offer your seat, anyway.

It's just a seat. You really don't have much to lose.

H. Chan, Tai Kok Tsui

Youth deserve share of city's prosperity

How ironic that on a page titled "Moving forward", you highlight the views of a conservative member of society ("The young are no longer willing to make sacrifices", May 14): Lo Chung-mau, who, regardless of his undoubtedly great contribution to Hong Kong and medicine (for which he is handsomely rewarded), seeks to maintain poor living conditions and lack of opportunity for millions of Hongkongers.

He chastises the young for demanding a fairer share of Hong Kong's great prosperity and seems to suggest that the dream of owning one's own minuscule 400 sq ft flat should be reserved for the retired and the elite. It is mean-spirited and regressive to demand that the new generation toil and suffer the same hardships as he once did.

Hong Kong will continue to lose young, bright, talented individuals who seek a rewarding life where they can join in the prosperity of their chosen nation rather than see the city's elite grow in wealth and power at the expense of successive generations.

Lo talks about teaching young people the right attitudes.

Surely the championing of the rights of poorer Hongkongers, as seen in the Occupy movement, is a manifestation of having the right attitudes.

A nation or city is only as prosperous as its successors' talents. To lose these talented people overseas will accelerate the spiral of decline.

Hong Kong needs to offer opportunity and prosperity to its young, not seek to offer lessons of the past.

Alex Jones, North Point

Categorising into ethnic tribes is wrong

I refer to the report ("First Chinese-Briton elected to UK parliament bows to pressure to acknowledge his heritage", May 9).

Criticism of newly-elected British MP Alan Mak for declining to tout himself as Chinese or part of the "Chinese community" reflects the lamentable racism of those who insist on categorising everyone as members of ethnic tribes rather than their individual character.

Mr Mak was born in Britain and has been elected to the British Parliament.

His job is to represent his fellow citizens in the Havant constituency. The people of Havant have clearly embraced him as a fellow Briton.

It is a shame that so many people seek to deny Mr Mak is British because of his skin colour and where his ancestors were born. That is racism exemplified.

Tam Pak-wing, Sai Ying Pun

Judges should temper justice with mercy

The rejection of an appeal against a prison sentence by a 73-year-old former security guard caused a public uproar. It has led to calls for a closer look at our judicial system.

Shih Chiao-jen was sentenced to four months' imprisonment for using a fake identity card to get jobs because he was over the mandatory retirement age of 65 for security guards.

Deception is a serious crime and merits a custodial sentence. But in this case, we have to look beyond the letter of the law.

Shih was not using a fake ID card to obtain unearned benefits; he simply wanted to keep working so he could make a living without having to rely on public assistance. Should we not endorse this moral value of self-reliance and personal dignity? That is why so many people from our community expressed sympathy for him and took issue with the punishment imposed on him.

There have been cases of using forged documents to obtain pecuniary rewards or career benefits in which comparatively light sentences were handed down by the courts. In Shih's case, he was not committing a crime with the intent to cheat to obtain material gains. Here is where humanity comes into play in the exercise of the law.

I accept judges and magistrates do a difficult, unenviable job that laymen may not totally understand. In passing sentences, they have to consider carefully a deterrent effect for offenders. They also have to base their verdicts on previous records and make sure that their decisions will not set a flawed precedent with future judgments.

Yet there are exceptional cases that require special consideration and flexibility. Shih, who worked hard to provide for his family and has no criminal record, is one of those cases. The court could have exercised discretionary powers. Further, during the period he has been detained, his medical condition has deteriorated.

Hong Kong people have always boasted that our city's judicial system and its delivery of justice are pillars of our society. But judges and magistrates, when sentencing, must take a balanced approach instead of rigidly applying rules.

Patsy Leung, Mid-Levels 

Many chances for buildings to be greener

I refer to Christy Lam's letter ("Green features worth having in buildings", May 18). I agree with her that it would be good for the environment if more buildings in Hong Kong were eco-friendly.

There are many new property developments around, and I would like to see more of these projects utilising renewable energy sources from nature.

Given our climate, the most feasible renewable energy source in Hong Kong is solar energy. Solar panels can be fitted to the outsides of buildings. We could see a cleaner environment if the use of these panels was widespread.

We have so many high-rises, and by using conventional energy, such as coal-fired power stations, they do a great deal of damage to the environment. This can be reduced with greater use of renewable energy.

Kelly Lee, Sham Shui Po 

As frustrating as it can be, keep reading

I refer to the article by Henry Wong ("Reading is key to language learning", May 4).

I totally agree with your correspondent that reading is the main key to improvement, because texts can have many different themes and types of sentences. Reading can help us know more about parts of speech and other aspects of the language.

Also, when we read, we can learn many different and difficult words. Students can raise their language skills to higher levels so that they have the confidence to talk to others.

However, because students' mother language is Cantonese, there are many English words they don't know. Even if they check the dictionary, one word can have many different meanings. They are tempted to give up, but they should press on. It will be worth the effort.

Katy Yu, Tai Po

Football great's mesmerising display in HK

I read with great sadness about the descent of Blackpool from the English Premier League to the third tier in just four years.

Blackpool have a special place in the hearts of those of us in Hong Kong who are old enough to remember their visit here in 1958 for two games at the old Government Stadium. Who could forget their second game against the Combined Chinese XI, which they won by an incredible 10-1 score?

Despite playing at the age of 43, the legendary Stanley Matthews totally mesmerised the capacity crowd with his runs down the right side. What a night for football fans here.

K. Y. Tsui, Lai Chi Kok