Letters to the Editor, August 28, 2015
An education system that needs fixing
I refer to the report ("Father chooses private education for son over Hong Kong's 'spoon-fed' school system", August 24).
The father is making a clear point, that he has lost faith in our local education system and that he has a better idea. He has also highlighted an important issue.
There is no doubt our education system is flawed. The biggest problem is the exam-based mindset. Most children are brought up to believe that they need to achieve good grades in tests and exams to enjoy a good life.
Among the major preachers are the teachers and the parents, with the government being the initiator and facilitator. Students often have to drill practice after practice and fill their holidays with tutorials, often from a young age. They have to give up the fun of childhood and are not given a choice.
An assessment-filled curriculum causes stress and youngsters lose interest so that learning becomes a habit.
Many of these young people lack self-confidence because they have never been able to follow their own instincts and make their own choices.
This father does not want his son studying until midnight. And yet that is what happens in mainstream schools in Hong Kong with students given enormous amounts of homework.
This parent has said he also believes his son's potential can only be fully realised through more flexible teaching.
As regurgitation of facts and fill-in-the-blanks seem to be the norm in schools, he does indeed need to find other more creative and effective ways. In fact, the whole Hong Kong education system needs to do this.
Faith has been missing for some time in the education system in this prosperous city, home to many brilliant minds.
With richer residents and even government officials (including some from the Education Bureau) sending their children abroad for schooling, there is no convincing reason for rejecting this father's decision.
Charles Loy, Tsing Yi
Children benefit from exercise too
Most parents place too much emphasis on academic results and developing talent. This puts a lot of pressure on their children.
Some of these parents will even argue that exercise is a waste of time, but this is definitely not the case. Exercise is good for you. It gives you more energy to do your daily chores. It leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Being able to relax is as important as studying hard.
Parents need to change their outdated attitude towards exercise.
Chan Tsz-ting, Kowloon Tong
Tram crucial transport option
I am a frequent rider of the tram between Admiralty and Central.
Based on my experience, the tram is the most efficient mode of transportation between Admiralty and Central, especially during rush hours.
Buses, minibuses and even taxis are not as reliable as the tram because the road can be congested while the tram line is not affected by cars.
The MTR does not replace the tram because it takes time to go down to the platform and come back up to the street. Elderly people much prefer hopping on the tram than going up and down the escalator many times.
The tram, which is often crowded, especially during peak hours, is a mass transit operation.
It's counter-intuitive to me to remove a mass transit operation to alleviate congestion.
I urge the Hong Kong government to take public comments into consideration and not to take any actions on the proposal.
Elizabeth Lam, Central
Animal cruelty key issue for fashion brands
Last month, British singer Jane Birkin asked luxury brand Hermes to take her name off its crocodile-skin handbag.
She did this after being "alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermes handbags" that carry her name ("Birkin asks Hermes to change handbag name", July 30).
I am appalled to learn about the treatment of crocodiles in farms from Texas to Zimbabwe where the crocodiles are "allegedly crammed into barren concrete pits before being 'cruelly hacked' to death".
If these allegations are true, it is outrageous that the company did not ensure that humane practices in line with international norms were put in place, especially when you consider the profits it makes from these expensive designer bags.
I admire Birkin for taking this stand.
I hope her action will raise awareness of the issue and the fashion industry will stop exploiting animals and slaughtering them for their skin.
Jenny Fok, Fanling
Lessons to be learnt from lead scare
I refer to the letter by Sophy Tam ("Waiver of rent for affected residents", August 13).
I agree with your correspondent that compensation is essential for those affected by lead-tainted water in housing estates.
When claims were first made about excessive lead in water, the government was slow to respond.
Residents were worried about excessive quantities of lead in their blood, but not all of them were offered free blood tests by the administration. This served to raise people's levels of concern.
To alleviate the fears of residents at the affected estates, the government should say they can go to authorised private clinics to have the tests and, when they provide a valid receipt, will get a refund.
We also need to look at the causes of the problem and the issue of lack of scrutiny.
Outsourcing is a common practice when building public estates.
Although this cuts costs, it makes it more difficult to guarantee the quality of building materials. Some pipes used have come from the mainland and factories there are notorious for their lax quality controls.
The government must now ensure closer checks on the materials used to build new estates.
It must not shirk its responsibilities and try to shift the blame to others, such as plumbing contractors.
It must instead reflect on its mistakes. And I hope it can learn lessons from what has happened.
Andy Charm, Sha Tin
More electric vehicles can help air quality
I refer to the article by Paul Stapleton ("Raise the tax on petrol to help clean up Hong Kong's air", August 26).
With lower oil prices, more people are purchasing cars and this makes air quality worse. There are also seasonal changes regarding air pollution.
The government now requires ships to switch to low-sulphur fuel and it also has the no-idling engine law for motorists.
Those measures help but more must be done. Mr Stapleton suggests raising the tax on petrol by at least a couple of cents a litre.
This could encourage owners of expensive vehicles which use a lot of petrol to reduce the trips in their cars. Hopefully, an increasing number of motorists would choose to take public transport more frequently.
I would also like to see the government encouraging greater use of electric vehicles in Hong Kong.
They emit no pollutants. The administration could ensure there are far more charging points throughout the city and also garages with mechanics who can repair and maintain electric vehicles.
More electric vehicles should be seen as a long-term way of reducing levels of air pollution.
I would also support raising registration taxes for vehicles. This might put off some individuals from buying cars in the first place and so we would see fewer of them on the roads.
Sammi Lo, Sai Kung
Put recycling bins across the city
On Sunday, I enjoyed a morning at South Bay Beach, along with hundreds of other families.
I could not help noticing the overflowing rubbish bins with a wide range of recycled materials - plastic, tin and paper. I counted 11 bins along the beach, nearest to the bathers, but could not see a single recycle bin.
I commend the bathers for putting their rubbish in the bins and leaving the beaches free of refuse, but these bins are not an answer to our city's overflowing landfill sites, nor does it give residents who want to recycle an option.
Our government, which is determined to use "supply management" strategies to address our rubbish issues with an overpriced, poorly located, outdated incinerator, should consider "demand management" strategies, as seen with our neighbours, Taiwan and China.
It's not rocket science, Environmental Protection Department, it just needs a little planning and consideration as to where best to locate recycle bins, not just at our beaches but throughout our city.
Give people the chance to recycle.
David Brian, North Point