Letters to the Editor, September 17, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 September, 2015, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 September, 2015, 4:25pm

Why so many students are going abroad

I refer to Alex Lo's column ("Degree in Hong Kong no longer worth what it once was", September 9).

To some extent, a bachelor's degree from a Hong Kong university does not carry as much weight as in the past. If you take into account inflation, today's graduates will not earn salaries as high as their predecessors.

The problems with the local education system have not been addressed by the government and so many parents have decided they do not want their children to continue their studies in Hong Kong. We need to ask why these students are leaving.

I think it is to do with the curriculum which encourages a spoon-fed form of education. Take modern languages, for example. Students are frequently being taught to memorise phrases. This helps them in exams, but means they do not learn to speak the language in an authentic manner. For example, they would have difficulty ordering a meal in a restaurant in France.

It is no surprise that employers have difficulty recruiting people with the necessary language skills.

Also, Hong Kong universities are not as good as they were. For example, the University of Hong Kong dropped down the Times Higher Education global rankings (from 35 to 43).

Lo claims university students are distracted since they are "being encouraged to become activists advocating causes such as Western-style democracy". Being taught in this way encourages them to be more engaged with modern politics and to look beyond short-term issues.

The problem is with the current education system, not a mismatch between the job "market and demand", as he claims. Youngsters need more help from schools and universities to give them a sense of direction about their future.

Andres Chau Ho-yin, Kowloon Tong

Physical and mental health important

I am concerned about young people being at risk at the beginning of the school year, because of the pressure they feel under, with some even attempting suicide.

The pressure students feel from public exams and concerns about future career prospects have been frequently highlighted.

We have to ask if too much pressure is being put on youngsters by society. And questions also have to be raised about parenting styles. If parents are overprotective, children may be less resilient when they face obstacles.

Also, with a spoon-feeding and exam-oriented system of education, students may lose sight of the real purpose of learning.

Given the pressure they are under, if they do not get the exam results they and their parents hoped for, this could affect them psychologically.

As a Hong Kong student, I understand the importance of studying hard to get a place at a university. However, we must also recognise the importance of having a lifestyle that ensures our physical and mental well-being.

Parents need to reflect on what is in their children's best interests.

Ivy Ho, Yau Tong

Ban on owning dogs at estates is wrong

Animals bring a smile to your face and are companions to young and old alike. They don't argue, they don't talk back, they just give love and friendship.

Over the past 30 years, Wembley International Kindergarten has encouraged the nurture of animals through its pat-a-pet programmes, encouraging students to care for all creatures, which is such an important part of moral education.

Recently an acquaintance of mine was given 30 days to get rid of his dog because of an archaic deed of mutual covenant regulation stating no dogs are allowed on the estate where he lives. This dog has been his constant companion for 16 years and to see the distraught look on his face was heartbreaking. This kind of rule should be obsolete.

This ruthless decision by a handful of people is destroying his life. To him, his pet is his child, as all pets are to their owners.

Seeing this old man's distress was very upsetting. Are we not supposed to be civilised? Are we not Asia's world city and well educated? This type of behaviour is totally thoughtless.

We should all have more empathy and consideration for our neighbours.

People should be allowed to make their own decision whether to own a dog or not. If they are law-abiding and follow basic laws of cleanliness, there should be no reason anyone cannot enjoy dogs for companionship. This deed of mutual covenant regulation, which applies to many private buildings in Hong Kong, should be amended.

Although I am not a dog/cat owner, I would not prevent anyone from experiencing the joy and rewards ownership can bring. How we treat all animals and each other reflects on ourselves and our humanity. What we do defines who we are.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten

Another area with really bad connections

I refer to your report on the poor broadband connectivity on the outlying islands ("Islands stuck in online dark ages", September 14).

I wish to draw attention to the abysmal internet connections elsewhere in Hong Kong, namely Shouson Hill Road, where at a weekend the band width availability is so poor one cannot even get Google to load.

There is no way we can call ourselves a world-class city with such awful connectivity.

Nigel Moore, Shouson Hill

Focus instead on celebrities' altruistic acts

I am writing to express my disappointment over the South China Morning Post's decision to publish the graphic ("Their time and your money", September 8).

The graphic hails celebrities' money-making capabilities by indicating - on an elaborate bar graph - how long it would take each celebrity to earn the salary of an average person.

Sadly, it is sending the wrong message to society (or worse, to our children) that money is the only yardstick that matters.

Instead of how quickly celebrities can make a certain amount of money, how about a graph showing how much money they donated last year to charities? Or how many hours they served the community? Or it could be asked how many homeless people they helped house or feed.

How many animals' lives did they help to save? And how many trees did they plant?

In other words - look at how much good the celebrities did and then compare that to the average person.

Would that not be a much more inspiring article?

In a time when we are asking corporations to be more socially responsible, asking people to be more tolerant of others and to "love thy neighbours", shouldn't we be printing articles that inspire such actions instead?

Philip Heung, Kowloon Tong

Many ignoring escalator etiquette plea

There has been a lot of debate about escalator etiquette.

The MTR Corporation wants people to stand on the right and left sides and not walk on its escalators. I think this makes sense from a safety point of view. If standing still ensures a safe journey, then why we should we not do so?

Some may say that being stationary is a waste of time, but is that really the case if it saves someone's life?

The only problem is that there is now some confusion about escalator etiquette at MTR stations.

Some people heed the announcement and remain stationary while others ignore it and keep walking.

This can cause problems, especially during the rush hour, when you may have people standing on the left side while others want to walk down and this could lead to confrontations.

The MTR's preferred system has also been adopted by railway companies in Japan.

In order to avoid confusion, the MTR Corp should ensure that more of its staff are located near escalators at each MTR station. They can give advice to passengers.

Also, there needs to be better promotion of this policy through television adverts and posters in MTR carriages.

Hopefully, these measures can raise passengers' awareness about how to behave on an escalator.

I hope the MTR can achieve its aim of having us all stand still on escalators.

Tsoi Wing-ki, Po Lam

No person is above our judiciary

I refer to the report "'Hong Kong leader is above the executive branch, legislature and courts', says Beijing's liaison chief" (September 12).

I cannot agree entirely with the speech given by Zhang Xiaoming , the chief of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong.

I accept that Hong Kong does not exercise a full separation of powers. Some of its affairs are under the control of the central government, including interpretation of the Basic Law.

However, I do not understand what Mr Zhang meant by saying that the chief executive had a "special legal position that is above the executive, legislative and judicial institutions".

The chief executive should not be seen as above the judiciary in a city which adheres to the rule of law. All citizens must abide by the rule of law. If someone is considered above the judiciary, then he is considered above the law.

The chief executive may have a position of authority over the executive and the legislature, but can never be above the judiciary.

Carol Mo Ka-wai, Tseung Kwan O