Letters to the Editor, September 20, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 September, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 September, 2015, 12:01am

Downside of letting refugees into Europe

The photo of the drowned Syrian child on a Turkish beach broke the hearts of everyone who saw it. Germany announced later that it would take in a certain number of refugees from Syria and asked other members of EU to do the same.

While the act restores my faith in the humanity of governments, I began thinking of some problems that go with such immigration.

First of all, not every country has Germany's need for labour. It has an ageing population and a low birth rate, so refugees can fill the demand for labour. But not every country in Europe has the same needs. When refugees cannot find work in their new countries quickly, they become a financial burden.

Second, the Schengen Agreement allows passport-free movement around most EU countries. There are Shengen countries who cannot handle a large number of migrants. That is why some countries have restored border controls.

All countries have their own legislation which offers protection to local labour. Such laws might make it difficult for refugees to find suitable work and they could end up languishing in refugee camps.

I can understand why European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Europe today is an island of hope for the people in the Middle East fleeing war." But care must be taken when implementing a refugee policy so that it does not prove detrimental to a country.

Yu Yee-yan, Cheung Sha Wan

More electric buses will clean up air

I entirely agree with the decision made by New World First Bus and Citybus to have five more electric buses on our roads by the end of the year.

Electric buses can reduce pollution significantly because there are no emissions, and Hong Kong already has enough air pollution from exhaust fumes. So not only can these buses transport people, but they are also environmentally friendly.

However, every coin has two sides. There are disadvantages, one of which is that Hong Kong lacks charging facilities for electric vehicles. The government wants to promote electric buses, but it is not providing enough charging stations to help encourage that expansion.

Stephen Tang, Tseung Kwan O 

Pressure robs teenagers of happiness

I refer the article by Alice Wu ("Too many in HK lose their way in the search for happiness", September 7).

I agree with her that living in the city has become more depressing in the past few decades, especially for young people.

One of the main reasons teens feel this way is the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam. This is not a test, it is a rat race. You either perform with with flying colours and get a university place or feel devastated by failing. There does not seem to be anything in between.

Teenagers are encouraged to aim to "be the best", but this value system is wrong. If you land a place in a university, you're a bright prospect. If not, you're doomed. Perhaps this all-or-nothing mentality is why the number of depressed students and those feeling suicidal is on the rise. It's the peer pressure they get at school that's the main reason for their unhappiness.

What's worse is that parents - who should be offering encouragement and support - are nowadays more likely to be the ones pushing. They force their children to take tutorial classes because they fear someone else's child may beat theirs out of a place in an expensive private school or university. And if the parents have brought home the burdens from their own jobs, the result can be unnecessary quarrels, which only add to the pressure.

These parents need to know that communicating patiently with their teenage children is of paramount importance. Not only can it help alleviate the teens' anxiety and depression, but it can also help bridge the gap between the generations.

The best message that stressed-out teenagers can hear from their parents is that happiness in life is not contingent on results and success. After all, shouldn't the adults be the role models to bring a positive image to our youths?

Katie Wu, Fanling

Horizons open when English skills improve

I refer to the report ("Officials urged to do more to promote English", September 11).

Many teachers want students to understand English and be able to speak it fluently. Shortcomings in English may have a negative impact on their future careers, because a company may not hire people who do not have good English skills.

It's important that students learn proper English. Teenagers may write in English when they send messages to their friends using their mobile phones, but if they get stuck, they'll use Chinese slang. What good does that do when, they make so many grammatical mistakes on an English composition that a teacher requires them to rewrite it?

I agree with legislative councillor Michael Tien Puk-sun's statement that "The future for Hong Kong is technology, and for [that] to thrive, we need good English". As English is an international language, Hongkongers should learn it so that when foreigners ask them questions, they can reply with confidence.

The Education Bureau can impress the importance of using English through advertisements through radio, and television.

Moreover, it would be a good idea if teachers required students to use English as often as possible. If they are practising it frequently, not only can they get good grades in speaking assessments, but they can communicate effectively.

Young people should realise that having a good command of English will open doors for them. It will increase their chances of getting a good job. That should be enough incentive right there.

Mario Man Yuk-kin, Tseung Kwan O 

Positive side of assisted suicide

The California state legislature has passed a bill allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives with a doctor's assistance. To some, that may sound too pessimistic, but to say that terminating one's life is a negative thing is subjective.

A patient in the last stage of lymphatic cancer may feel it liberates their family from the pressure of having to make a difficult decision, and takes away the pain of seeing a loved one suffer.

Until a cure can be found, helping them to end the pain may be the only thing society can do for them now.

Nobody should have to live with pain longer than necessary. Assisted suicide, done properly with a doctor at hand, is an option people should have.

Cheung Nok-wai, Tseung Kwan O

Department's appeal rather ludicrous

I refer to the letter by Vincent Chow, on behalf of the director of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department ("Standing still effective way to prevent escalator accidents", September 14).

It is evident from the daily behaviour of many people in Hong Kong that I am not alone in finding his advice, to "stand still and grip the handrail" when travelling on escalators, rather ludicrous.

Perhaps Mr Chow will find that the 0.39 accidents per million passengers he cites might be further reduced by adding to the message the suggestion to travellers of when to let go of their grip before the end of their journey.

P. Kevin MacKeown, Lantau