Letters to the Editor, August 03, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:01am

Dysfunctional system causes pressure

I refer to the letter by Rosalind Chan ("Not all teens benefit from tutorial classes", August 4).

I agree that parents push their children too much and that tutorial classes are driving children and parents to distraction. However, what else can parents do with the educational system being a rat race?

The Education Bureau has repeatedly emphasised that admission to a university is not solely dependent on Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam results. It says a student's personal profile and their measure as a whole person are also factors. But I am not convinced. In the US, for example, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) counts for only a third of admission criteria. But DSE results have been prioritised as the first screening criterion. Other profiles will be considered only for students with the same DSE results.

You cannot ignore the importance of good exam results. So it is not difficult to see why parents see good academic performance as the only measure of success. We now live in a world where you are being told constantly that unless you graduate from university, you are doomed.

Children learn and achieve success differently. Some experts talk about diversified learning, tiered teaching, and graded assessment, but none of these measures have really been implemented in Hong Kong schools.

Unless our society is able to offer school leavers genuine choices for their future, parents and students will have no other option but continue on this wild-goose chase.

Michael Wong Wai-shing, Tseung Kwan O

Referendum not Scotland's finest hour

Scotland's first minister may praise her country's referendum ("Scottish referendum could be lesson in political engagement for Hong Kong, says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon", July 30).

However, it must be pointed out that the winning option was maximum devolution (or "devo-max") But nobody voted for it, as it wasn't on the ballot paper.

There were three possible options during discussions before the referendum - independence, devo-max or the then status quo.

Initially, British Prime Minister David Cameron thought the status quo would easily beat independence, so although the Scottish National Party wanted a three-option ballot, he decided the question would be status quo or independence.

Later, when the polls indicated that the status quo might lose (and after postal voting had already started) Cameron changed it to mean devo-max.

If there had been three options, it is likely devo-max would have won. Now, however, the horse has bolted, and Scotland will soon have another referendum, and another, until a majority does indeed opt for independence.

I was an accredited observer in Edinburgh for the referendum.

Is the Scottish referendum a lesson for Hong Kong?

It was regarded as an example by supporters of separatism in Ukraine, with horrific results.

In a pluralist democracy, if controversial disputes are to be resolved in a plebiscite, it should best be done in a pluralist ballot, as in Newfoundland (three options on its constitutional status) or New Zealand (five options on its electoral system).

Peter Emerson, director, the de Borda Institute, Belfast, Northern Ireland  

Take simpler approach to city's festivals

Hongkongers celebrate a number of traditional festivals throughout year.

As part of the celebrations, many people visit restaurants and often spend a lot of money on meals.

This happens in Hong Kong for virtually any special occasion. The restaurants raise their prices, and customers are willing to pay.

However, sometimes, in the midst of all the lavish celebrations and fine dining, I think that people tend to forget the original purpose of some of the festivals.

They are often meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, and that aspect can get lost with all the other things that are happening.

The strong bonds we have with those we really care about are so important. At some time during these festivals, people should think about having meals at home that they cook themselves, rather than paying for a table at an expensive restaurant.

If sons and daughters were to cook a meal at home for the whole family, their parents would really appreciate it. And at these times, people need to find time for their real friends, rather than going to some social gathering full of acquaintances and strangers.

We should follow the approach taken by Confucius and celebrate these festivals in a simpler way with friends and family.

Jason Poon King-tin, Clear Water Bay

Breast assault case and jail term bizarre

I was probably not alone having to do a double-take upon reading about a woman demonstrator who was convicted of assaulting a police chief inspector with her breast.

At best it sounds like a frivolous case that ought to have been thrown out.

Not only did the judge allow it to proceed, but the accused ended up being sentenced to three-and-a-half months in prison.

This is a case of reality being stranger than fiction.

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai 

Struggle goes on for gender equality

More people are now spreading the message of the need for gender equality. And it is of concern not only in Hong Kong, but is also a global issue.

You still find some companies preferring a man to a woman for certain positions, for example, one that involves having abilities in maths, but this is beginning to change.

Especially in developed countries, the most talented candidate is chosen irrespective of gender.

Talented women should not be stopped from furthering their careers because of outdated attitudes in the workplace.

I agree that it is hard to change the attitudes of everyone, and that it will take time to remove gender bias, but we must try and move forwards, and make progress on this very important issue.

Chrissie Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Worse things to worry about than lead

The leaded-water scare is a serious issue that the government needs to quickly address.

Lead has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a class 2 carcinogen to humans. But I am curious as to why Hongkongers, who get so concerned with a class 2 carcinogen when they can detoxify themselves with raw garlic, will give their young and developing children a smartphone. This has high electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation (also a class 2 carcinogen).

They also continue to accept and breathe all of the diesel exhaust particles and coal (both class 2 carcinogens) in our air?

It is much easier to rid the body of lead than to rid it of radiation and PM2.5.

If parents really are worried about their child's cognitive development or IQ tests, then they should petition the government to remove the fluoride from our water.

Let's all look at the bigger picture.

Nick Anderson, North Point

Good to wage war against sugar and salt

Earlier this year, the government set up a new committee on the reduction of salt and sugar in food.

I think this was a good decision as it can help to raise public awareness and make people think more about what they eat.

Unless something is done, many Hong Kong citizens will continue to eat a lot of fast food with high levels of sugar and salt.

Also, I hope the committee can persuade food manufacturers to reduce salt and sugar content in their products. Hopefully consumers will then have greater choice and be able to buy low-salt and low-sugar products.

Some may say it is a waste of money to set up this committee, but if it means people lead healthier lives and need less medical care, then the government will save on health care.

Tong Tak-yu, Kowloon Tong 

Bemusing comparison with Mandela

Your columnist Lawrence Lau ("Mob mentality", August 3) has seen fit to bracket our former secretary for home affairs, Tsang Tak-sing, with Nelson Mandela. I feel some lack of sympathy for the late Mr Mandela.

Were he writing his column in 1967, it is hard to believe that Professor Lau would not suggest a jail term for illegal student activism, though possibly more reasonably of the one-day duration he advocates than the two years Mr Tsang actually served.

P. Kevin MacKeown, Lantau