Letters to the Editor, August 31, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 August, 2015, 12:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 August, 2015, 12:02am

Mainstream schools still the best option

I am writing about the father who has taken his son out of Hong Kong's mainstream education system in favour of home-schooling.

I do not agree with parents who choose home-schooling for their children and would like to point out its disadvantages.

It limits children's social skills. Social activity is very important in aiding a child's development.

A home-schooled student may be deficient in social and communication skills.

Group discussion is becoming an increasingly popular method of teaching, because it helps children to develop these skills.

The home-schooled youngster is alone and may have difficulty making friends of the same age. There is no shared experience with peers that you get in a school environment.

The father who has opted for home-schooling argues that his son cannot bear the huge stress of studying in mainstream schools. However, exams and tests offer children a golden opportunity to learn to deal with pressure.

It is impossible for people to go through their lives, when studying and working, without encountering some pressure.

At school, young people learn about time management to help them cope with stress. With home-schooling, they are less likely to learn such skills.

The mainstream system is definitely better for children than home-schooling when it comes to healthy psychological and social development of students.

Charity Ng Shuk-ling, Kowloon Tong 

Burning paper leaves a terrible mess

I am concerned about the nuisance caused every year by the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Appeasing the "hungry ghosts" is a long-held Chinese tradition. People worship their ancestors by burning fake money in roadside fires. However, over the last week, as I walk through the streets near where I live, I have seen large black marks left by the burning of the money and piles of burned paper, still-lit candles and patches of flowers surrounded by charred grass.

I am not against people celebrating this traditional festival. However, they should not ignore what are now accepted standards of hygiene and the need to protect the environment. We are all entitled to live in a clean, hygienic city.

I urge Hong Kong citizens who are marking this festival to act in a more responsible manner and clear up the mess they have created before they leave.

The environmental protection and environmental hygiene departments should step up prosecutions of those people who breach the city's hygiene and littering laws.

Charlotte Chan, Kowloon Bay

No mention of lead detox programme

There has been a lot written about the problem of lead in the water in many locations in Hong Kong.

As usual, a committee has been formed.

There has been no mention of the government offering the people, who have been affected by this tragedy, any form of detoxification or chelation programme or advice. People naturally worry about how a high lead level will affect them in the longer term.

Heavy metals can be removed by an appropriate detox programme, which should be provided without cost to those people exhibiting high levels of lead.

And, by the way, is it not time for the government to stop putting toxic industrial waste, aka sodium silicofluoride, into our drinking water?

Bruce Vaughan, Central 

Islands not just worried about sea levels

I refer to the letter by Michael J. Sloboda ("Ask islanders about fears of sea-level rise", August 22) in reply to my letter ("World leaders ignoring the evidence", August 7).

Of course he would throw my comment regarding sea level rises back at me by using the very low-lying Pacific islands as an example.

I do not dispute that sea level rise is a major concern to them, but these islands are barely above sea level and there are other issues of concern to the islanders, including a change in rainfall patterns, land subsidence and storm surges that erode the shorelines and contaminate freshwater sources.

Even the Hong Kong Observatory's website tells us that the sea level in Victoria Harbour increased between 1990 and 1999. However, it has seen a moderate decline since then, and this planet has been experiencing a mean annual increase of 3 mm since the end of the last ice age, nothing anthropogenic about it.

As regards computer model usage in predicting climate change, your correspondent is comparing apples with oranges when he compares the computer models used by climate alarmists and well-established computer programmes used to assist in solar observations and predictions. They are based on constant, direct observations of our sun and empirical data going back centuries.

We do know that another ice age is inevitable, due to solar activity, earth's wobbling spin and orbit and other cosmic influences, although probably many thousands of years hence.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expressed low confidence in its computer models to date, in predicting global warming/climate change associated with human activity. And, of course, that is the IPCC's mandate: climate change caused by human activity only, generally ignoring all natural influences within and beyond this dynamic planet of ours.

G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling

Make people more aware of phone fraud

The police are obviously concerned about the surge in phone scams.

They are trying to crack down on these swindlers by exchanging information with security authorities on the mainland.

It obviously takes time for the various law enforcement agencies to root out the syndicates and masterminds behind these scams. Also, any probe is complicated by having to consult and coordinate with police forces in different jurisdictions.

In the meantime, the police in Hong Kong should spare no effort to raise levels of public awareness telling people that if they get any anonymous calls, they should report them to the police immediately.

Officers should distribute leaflets at busy locations, and work with property management companies so the message of "Beware Phone Scams" reaches as many households as possible.

Man Lo, Tuen Mun

Blame political leaders for malaise in HK

George Chen in the article ("Mindset blocking HK's development", August 24), succinctly highlights the mentality that is causing Hong Kong to stagnate.

The stubborn attitude of the taxi drivers' lobby merely reflects a more deep-rooted malaise within the key institutions that influence the lives and prospects of the people of Hong Kong.

It starts with an education system that boasts of topping questionable international tables in maths and science, yet fails to produce young people with flair and imagination.

Our senior civil servants, correct and trustworthy without question, are more concerned with keeping their heads below the parapet than experimenting and innovating, while the SAR's "movers and shakers" have engineered an unbreakable glass floor to safeguard their narrow self-interests.

It is, however, our political leaders of all colours who must bear the brunt of blame for the inertia.

They have collectively shown that they are incapable of leading, of motivating, of portraying a vision that can inspire and energise institutions to move Hong Kong forward and upward.

Jim Francis, North Point 

No need for China to distort history

I refer to the column by Cary Huang ("With Xi as revisionist auteur, war film skips generalissimo", August 23).

The Cairo Declaration, a mainland movie marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, has sparked discussion on social media, both sarcastic and critical.

A poster advertising the state-funded film carries a photo of an actor playing Mao Zedong . Of course it was Chiang Kai-shek who attended the Cairo Conference in 1943, which was regarded as a major diplomatic achievement for China. At the time, the communist leader was with his troops in Shaanxi .

Once again, this reflects how the mainland authorities stress the importance of the Communist Party in China's victory in the war by distorting historical facts. It makes me think of some farcical TV drama series depicting the courage of the Chinese when resisting Japanese aggression, often containing ridiculous scenes.

When this is what mainland citizens are exposed to, you must wonder what they are learning about history. Beijing wants a formal apology from Japan over wartime atrocities. I totally agree with that. However, in order to promote long-lasting peace, rather than blind patriotism, the central government should stick to historical facts and educate the public properly.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long