Letters to the Editor, June 06, 2015
Land could have helped needy in HK
During a question and answer session in Legco, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that the miserable conditions and shameful treatment in our nursing homes for the elderly were due to there being not enough land in Hong Kong ("CY blames elder abuse on city's land shortage", May 29). Well, we learn something every day.
However in the report ("Shamed nursing home to lose licence", May 30), we were informed by the Social Welfare Department that there was an "abundance of places in private homes for the elderly in Tai Po to provide residential care for all affected residents". This does not really tie in with what Mr Leung said.
I think it is ironic that this report appeared on the same page as a story about land allocated to international schools ("Elite overseas schools get land to open in city", May 30).
Sites have been given to British boarding schools Shrewsbury School and Malvern College and to Dubai-based ESOL Education, Harbour School and French International School. Harrow got a site in 2009.
I do not know the acreage of land involved, but I think it is a reasonable assumption that such eminent seats of learning will provide playing fields for their students.
It would be interesting to calculate how many nursing homes and public rental housing for the needy such land would provide.
John Wilson, Tsim Sha Tsui
Empty buses make our bad air worse
I refer to the letter by Christine Loh Kung-wai, environment undersecretary and S. M. Yau, transport and housing undersecretary ("Chief executive committed to improving air", June 2) and to the report ("'Curb car growth to tackle pollution'", May 18).
I agree with Ms Loh that the Transport and Housing Bureau should spearhead initiatives to cut roadside emissions and that the number of private cars should be a part of the issue. But the franchised bus system needs a serious overhaul as well. In spite of Ms Loh's optimism I believe the chief executive could do more to demonstrate air pollution is being taken seriously.
In contrast to cities such as London, New York or Paris, where the bus system is run by a single, part-governmental, organisation, here the government continues to maintain a system of three main franchised bus companies. New World First Bus, Kowloon Motor Bus and Citybus have overlapping routes and compete for the same customers.
Public transport is a public good but every day in Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai, at any time, I see large numbers of near-empty buses, causing significant roadside pollution.
Near-empty buses running on large diesel engines cease to be a good public service, they represent a public disservice. Other cities are just as complex as Hong Kong but have implemented change while here it's mostly business as usual.
It is well-understood that young children and other vulnerable people risk irreversible damage to their lungs as a result of air pollution. The government should demonstrate real urgency over this issue, as current measures are not convincing.
Widemar Spruijt, Mid-Levels
Give more cash to public hospitals
Despite the warning given by a world health expert that Hong Kong's public health service resources are being strained, local hospitals maintain a world-class standard of services.
I had the chance to witness the service delivery at Grantham Hospital where I stayed recently for a short period.
The doctors assigned every patient a special treatment programme according to their needs. What was impressive was they took the initiative to follow up cases with the patient's family members to facilitate recovery.
The nurses too, though it is well known they are in short supply, all demonstrated a high standard of training. They carried out all their duties with admirable efficiency.
Even ancillary staff provided unexpectedly good services - from presentation of meals, distribution of patients' uniforms to answering calls for help.
While patients pay HK$100 per day for staying in the public wards, the actual maintenance fee is HK$3,760, with some HK$3,660 subsidised by the government.
I am sure not all public hospitals provide the same standard of services, particularly when our medical resources are being strained.
There have been cases of maladministration and medical misjudgment. Yet taken as a whole, such incidents should not be used as a means to attack the administration, for political or other reasons.
It is also necessary for the government to review the resources allocated to our public hospitals and their staff under the capable leadership of Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man.
The thousands of patients now being treated at our public hospitals are all obliged to the quality services being given them, and look forward to more public finance that will guarantee the maintenance of a sound health system in Hong Kong.
Patsy Leung, Mid-Levels
Government sets a very bad example
Yonden Lhatoo's article ("Appalling English standards in Hong Kong: the biggest culprit is…", May 22) is spot on.
The government should either be serious about being "a world city" and act accordingly or cease such inane superiority and adjust its publicity to being "just another Chinese city".
It has no excuse for the dreadful standard of English in some of its communications. It has unlimited funds at its disposal and could easily hire a team of proofreaders to improve standards. Instead it sloppily uses phrases such as "There's no reason to take it away!" in its "2017 - Make it happen!" publicity. You can "take away" fish and chips but you can't take away something that isn't there.
Major corporations are no better. They also have enough money to fund an army of proofreaders but prefer to save a few hundred dollars and tolerate "addition disinfection" on the MTR, and the physical impossibilities of "No standing on the stairs and the upper deck" on buses.
How does any teacher stand a chance of improving their students' English when this rubbish is allowed to contaminate young brains every day?
If Hong Kong wants to look like a world city rather than a banana republic, and wants its future human resources to have adequate English language skills, then corporations and the government should put their money where their mouths are.
Lee Faulkner, Lamma
Reading can be much more satisfying
When it comes to choosing how you organise your studies I think it is better for students to concentrate on developing their reading habits rather than going to tutorial classes.
With tutorial classes there is a fixed timetable and teenagers have to fit in with them in addition to their school day.
With reading you can choose how much time you want to allocate.
Depending on your workload, you can do half an hour or a whole evening.
I also think that at tutorial classes you are taking down everything that the tutor says, sometimes without thinking about it. But with a book you can pause to reflect on what you have just read and this can give you a deeper understanding.
Students can think more deeply about the subjects they read about. At a tutorial class the content of lessons is based on the public exam syllabus.
The sole aim is to improve the students' academic performance, to help you pass that next exam.
What you learn from reading books can last you a lifetime.
Reading is therefore a far more satisfying experience because a lot of the time you choose material that interests you.
I think reading offers a more complete and rewarding learning process. It also helps us recognise that the purpose of learning is not just to pass exams.
Wong Ka-ki, Yau Yat Chuen
Officials have just made matters worse
I refer to Elsa Young's letter ("Nursing home deserves to stay open", June 5).
Though I have no knowledge of the Cambridge Nursing Home in Tai Po, I agree fully with your correspondent's sensible views.
It is typical of the government to swing to the other extreme when it comes under attack over any incident.
The decision of the Social Welfare Department not to renew the licence of this nursing home, has in effect created more problems than it solved.
The elderly and their relatives are now struggling to find alternative accommodation in the nearby area.
There were reports of other homes trying to put up their fees ("'Scant aid' for care home tenants", June 2) and the lives of the people involved have been seriously inconvenienced.
It is upsetting to see senior officials trying to downplay all these difficulties by making rather empty promises to help.
I honestly believe that the best way forward is for the authorities to seriously enforce the rules and make the nursing home carry out genuine improvements after which its licence can be renewed.
Simon Yau, Kowloon City