'Hong Kong university student leader acted as a whistle-blower': Letters to the Editor, October 07, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2015, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2015, 5:11pm

Student leader acted as a whistle-blower

Alice Wu was critical of the decision by University of Hong Kong student union president Billy Fung Jing-en to break a confidentiality regulation, on deliberations on Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun ("A poor choice to flout HKU council's confidentiality rules", October 5). Wu believes Fung tarnished his own integrity, and ultimately put his future in jeopardy.

I think he made an ethical choice. Fung, as an insider involved in the protracted deliberations over appointing a pro-vice-chancellor, observed what he considered to be irregularities in the council's procedures and decided to make them public. I see this as a form of whistle-blowing.

Even if you have signed a confidentiality agreement, you have a moral obligation to act if you believe an injustice has been perpetrated.

In interviews since the council meeting Fung has said he perceived procedural unfairness, and a lack of transparency. Professor Chan was not being treated fairly. He felt there were larger issues of academic independence and democracy at play.

While Wu focuses on the personal backlash Fung would face, this story is also about someone who faced a moral dilemma and made a decision. I believe it was a difficult choice for Fung, but he felt the social issues were important whatever the consequences might be for him.

There is also a larger story here about the importance of procedural transparency and accountability.

People should not be discouraged from whistle-blowing out of fear for the possible personal consequences.

Yu Kin-man, Central 

Home-school teaching has dark side

It is interesting that Yaro Czarnecki associates home-schooling with progressive thinking whereas his profile of the typical home-schooling parent looks suspiciously like that of the ultra-conservative libertarians and evangelical Christians as we find them in the US ("A classroom of one's own", September 24).

There seems to be a connection between extreme views and the inclination to home-school.

It does after all represent an ideal opportunity to indoctrinate your children, denying them the opportunity to move in a wider circle of opinions, personalities and perspectives on life.

Teaching children the ability to think for themselves - which includes developing their own take on the views held by their parents - should be one of the main aims of education.

A 24/7 brainwashing by one or two parents hardly seems the best way of achieving this.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels 

Too much pressure bad for youngsters

I refer to the report ("Ease homework load on children, envoy says", September 28).

Many students are forced to join different kinds of extracurricular activities from a young age.

Parents hope going to all these extra classes will make them more competitive. However, this increases their workload as they already have to do a lot of homework.

Some students have so much to do that they may not get to bed until midnight.

With additional classes and homework, they may face up to five hours of work after the school day ends.

Having to work that late means that many youngsters do not get enough sleep and suffer sleep deprivation.

This makes them more vulnerable and more prone to ill health.

Also, if they are tired during the school day then it is more difficult for them to concentrate and this can make them short-tempered and adversely affect their academic results.

Youngsters faced with a heavy workload are more likely to suffer from stress.

There have been extreme cases where students finding they are unable to cope with the pressure they face have taken their own lives.

I do not oppose homework. It is a necessary part of the revision process. It also helps teachers recognise what part of a subject students have failed to grasp and help them with that.

However, schools need to place restrictions on the amount of homework students do on any given day so that they are able to get enough rest at night.

Matthew Lai, Ma On Shan

Officials must coordinate with schools

It is high time schools in Hong Kong moved to reduce the stress levels many of their students are experiencing, because of their heavy workload.

I think teachers and pupils would back moves for less homework.

Hong Kong students have a lot of assignments and learn a lot. But how much of these subjects do they actually master when they are still so young?

When it comes to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, I think schools and parents are pushing their children too hard, aiming for the best students to be among the highest achievers in the world.

It is not only the students who are suffering from having to do a huge amount of work in the evening.

Teachers have to spend a lot of their spare time marking this homework.

If the students have to stay up till late at night to finish all their assignments their parents will often stay up late as well to ensure all the work has been done.

It is certainly not good for primary school pupils to have to do homework till late in the evening.

They do not have the same levels of stamina as older children who are able to focus on a heavy workload.

The Education Bureau has to work with schools to ensure that students of all ages have less homework to do.

Tuan Chun-lan, Fo Tan

We should try to get on with mainlanders

The Hong Kong government is to spend HK$10 million to help the tourist sector deal with the drop in visitor numbers from the mainland.

There have been protests by some citizens against these visitors from north of the border, claiming that they are rude and raise prices of daily necessities in some parts of the New Territories.

I think it is important to recognise how important these people are to the city's economy.

They spend a lot of money when they are here and this creates job opportunities for Hongkongers.

I think numbers have dropped because some mainlanders have been very disappointed by the protests and hostility.

We should be trying to maintain good relations with these visitors.

It is important to recognise the important contribution they make to the economic well-being of the city.

Our economy will be hurt if more of these visitors decide not to visit.

Chow Cheuk-ying, Kowloon Tong

MTR Corp could offer exemptions

I refer to the letter by Winnie Cheung ("MTR right to ban bulky Chinese zither", October 3).

I think musical instruments should be given an exemption by the MTR Corporation.

There is no doubt that MTR staff turn a blind eye to people bringing on bulky objects. Parallel traders carry an array of luggage of different sizes into MTR stations.

Your correspondent talked about safety issues, but I do not see a problem if people with any bulky items use lifts instead of escalators. I think there is generally room on the trains for people with musical instruments. A draconian crackdown would be counterproductive and it would be difficult for musicians to get around town and do their jobs.

It is common for rules to have exemption clauses and this would appear to be the best option.

Minnie Mou, Ma On Shan