Letters to the Editor, November 17, 2015
Bus info freely available on firms' apps
While I can understand David Sorton's frustration over the lack of information about the arrival time and precise location of buses in Hong Kong ("Good public transport could be great with bus timetable upgrade", November 13), it may not be economically feasible or environmentally friendly to display such information electronically in countless bus stops across the city. In fact, the three major bus companies all offer smartphone apps through which passengers like Mr Sorton could get the information they need.
Nevertheless, I do believe that the bus companies in Hong Kong should further upgrade the current smartphone-based bus information system to improve the overall efficiency of their bus fleets. Through GPS technologies, the smartphone apps should allow the passengers to share with the bus companies their locations so that the system could estimate how many passengers are waiting for buses. (A simple button may be made available at the bus stops for passengers not using the smartphone apps to indicate their locations.)
In addition, by monitoring the human traffic on and off the buses using infrared sensors, the system could also keep track of the number of passengers on board in real time. With the real-time information of the number of passengers on board and those waiting in the bus stops, the system can then dynamically adjust the frequencies and sizes of the buses (for example, double-decker versus single-decker). This is better than following a predetermined fixed schedule, and it can optimise the overall efficiency of the bus transportation system.
In the long term, city planners may also use the aggregate data collected by the system to improve the overall design of the bus routes and schedules.
Developing such a smart bus information system should be helpful for realising Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's vision of building a smart city in Hong Kong.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong
Donor opt-out system will be opposed
It has been suggested that the government introduces an opt-out scheme for organ donations, in an effort to increase the number of organ donors available.
Given that Hong Kong is a traditional Chinese-based society, where Confucianism is strong, I would not be in favour of the government doing this. Traditional Chinese beliefs hold that the entire body should remain intact after death. Therefore a large number of Hongkongers would be opposed to opt-out legislation. If it was introduced many would choose to opt out and there would not necessarily be an increase in the number of transplants.
However, if there was a sharp increase in the number of transplant operations in our public hospitals, this could put greater pressure on the doctors and nurses involved in these operations and they are already complaining that they are having to struggle with a heavy workload.
Not only would there be more complaints, but there would also be an increase in tensions between medical staff and relatives. They might come into conflict with families who objected to a dead relative's organs being harvested, because the person had failed to opt out.
I think the best way to boost what is a shamefully low organ donor rate is through education. Education can help to change the traditional thinking people have over organ donations.
There is still a lot of misunderstanding and through education this misinformation can be cleared up. It may take time to change people's attitudes, but it can be done.
Gigi Yang, Sha Tin
Pristine Hoi Ha is now under threat
The need for the preservation of ecologically important areas has been raised quite a few times in the past, but it seems government officials do nothing except talk and defer until it's too late to take action.
Albert Einstein said, "The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
Hoi Ha is now in danger. A few million dollars handed over by developers may have just put paid to its pristine environment. Is the concern of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department about the tree felling there a case of too little too late? Our future is frightening - concrete and more concrete until what nature we have disappears. Our country parks will be slowly decimated slice by greedy slice, bulldozed out of existence, the trees hacked down without a second thought.
What will our children do - look back in anger or be oblivious to what they have lost, ignorant of everything not materialistic?
How can anyone appreciate nature if they have never been exposed to it? We are robbing them of that experience by allowing our ecological diversity to disappear.
Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin
Have dining etiquette classes
Many young people become involved in Hong Kong's dynamic business environment. This can involve having to attend formal events and meet potential investors and business partners.
Knowing the correct behaviour at such functions is important, as it can determine if an investor will come on board. Therefore etiquette should be taught in our schools, so that youngsters grow up knowing how to behave properly.
It can also help us to make a good impression with the visitors to our city.
The correct way to eat in a Western restaurant should be taught as local children in their early years may only know how to use chopsticks.
Some people may argue that nobody really cares, but making a good impression is important in the business world.
Dining etiquette could become part of the syllabus in cookery classes in junior forms. Parents should also act as role models.
Mok Sze-lam, Yau Yat Chuen
Online shops more popular than ever
I refer to the report ("Stocks brush off record Singles Day", November 12).
The sales on this annual event on the mainland have been increasing every year. This proves that the younger and older generations are getting used to this growing trend of shopping online instead of strolling round the mall.
This is helped by shops promoting this Singles Day so every year there are more vendors participating and more buyers online.
It is so popular because it is a convenient way to shop and much easier than walking from shop to shop. People simply go to different categories online.
Shopping is now becoming an exercise for the fingers rather than the feet.
Lau Yik-lun, Ma On Shan
Students put under too much pressure
The Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) is a controversial test, especially with regard to Primary Three pupils.
The test results are be used when deciding what banding a school will get.
Many parents of Primary Three pupils believe the test is not necessary and puts their children under undue pressure.
Thousands signed a petition on Facebook asking for it to be cancelled. However, top education officials have refused to scrap the TSA.
Under this assessment, pupils have to do lots of drills. The school's reputation is under threat and so schools want their pupils to get high marks. Some children are even forced to do after-school tutoring.
This puts pupils and teachers under a great deal of pressure, because they both face a heavy workload. Between the ages of eight and nine, children are still exploring their strengths and weaknesses.
They should be enjoying the learning process and still be given enough time to play. They should have enjoyable extra-curricular activities rather than having to do drilling exercises. They are having to do extra tutoring and homework when they should have leisure time.
I think schools are overreacting and this is where the fault lies rather than the test itself. School heads need to rethink how they will deal with the TSA and put less pressure on students and teachers.
Kwong Hin-wai, Sha Tin
Do not lose sight of these early dreams
As a foreigner attending a secondary school in Hong Kong, I would like to point out some facts about the education system.
I do not understand how schools can expect us to excel academically while they constantly remind us how hard it is to get a place at a local university.
Even if you get good grades in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam, it might still not be enough to get a place.
You are constantly competing with your classmates. That is your priority and you forget your original childhood dreams and goals.
Consequently, youngsters are put under enormous pressure. Some become very depressed and even resort to taking their own lives. Clearly, there is a need for changes in the education system.
It is as if young people are encouraged to think inside, instead of outside, the box.
The message that should be given to children and adolescents is that they should dare to dream and try to achieve their own goals. They should not think these dreams are a distraction that steer them away from what they are supposed to do.
M. Luna Molina, Fanling