Letters to the editor, March 13, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 March, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 March, 2016, 12:16am

Teens will be tempted to try e-cigarettes

I refer to your editorial (“Now’s the time to ban e-cigarettes”, March 7).

This is an issue that has emerged recently and a decision has to be made about electronic cigarettes as soon as possible.

I am concerned about how teenagers are responding to these products.

They have colourful and imaginative ­designs, which could tempt many young ­people who would not smoke ordinary cigarettes to try them out. But, they have to ­realise that while e-cigarettes might look nice, they are not a harmless toy.

Another problem is that they are easy to purchase, with no age limit [unless the product contains nicotine] and are relatively inexpensive. I saw them for sale in a large shopping mall and malls are popular with youngsters.

The low price is meant to encourage people, ­including youngsters, to buy them.

The problem is that there are certain myths surrounding e-cigarettes which people believe and which need to be dispelled. They think it is a high-tech ­version of an ordinary cigarette and is less harmful. Some ­research suggests this is not the case.

I do not know how long the government will take to decide whether or not to ban them. Until then, people need to be warned of the risks involved if they use e-cigarettes.

Eric Chan,Tseung Kwan O

Budget and our diets have too many ‘sweets’

It seems that most people in Hong Kong were happy with the sweeteners provided in the budget last month. In fact, Hongkongers have come to expect them every year.

However, I found this “sweet” budget to be short-sighted. With estimates before the budget speech of a government budget surplus of around HK$30 billion and these short-term relief measures costing HK$38.8 billion, this would mean a deficit is recorded. This should be a cause of concern, given the current unpredictable economic and political climate, including predictions of ­minimal financial growth in the next few years.

I am particularly worried that Hong Kong’s public healthcare system will be unable to cope with the effects of a fast-ageing population. We have seen the heavy ­demand for but shortage of ­hospital beds and facilities in the last few weeks. Health expenditure will increase, but this ­budget made no adequate provision for this.

Neither was additional funding provided for the development of traditional Chinese medicine. This is despite the fact that there is growing demand for such treatment that may complement modern medicine in managing health, in particular the current pandemic non-communicable chronic diseases. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners ­believe that prevention is better than treatment, but many Hongkongers fail to recognise the importance of this principle.

In the end, sweet things may not necessarily be good.

Sugar has been described these days as the No 1 enemy for causing obesity and metabolic syndrome that affect about one-third of people in developed countries.

Nutritionists in developed countries, including the US, now call for people to cut back dramatically on carbohydrates, in particular sugars, especially fructose, which is found in soft drinks and sweet foods.

Nevertheless, these recommendations have had no effect on the policies of the central or Hong Kong governments. In this city, you still see people bingeing on food containing a lot of sugar. This problem needs to be dealt with by the government.

Zhang Hong Qi, professor, teaching and research division, School of Chinese Medicine,

Hong Kong Baptist University

HK should not set up more universities

I disagree with the letter by ­Walter Chong (“Not enough places at local universities”, March 7).

Your correspondent said the government needed to build more universities for local ­students rather than putting additional resources into associate degree programmes.

If it has to look at budget allocations, then dealing with an ageing population and coming up with a better old age ­allowance scheme should be priorities.

Also, if there were more ­universities in Hong Kong, or entry requirements were lowered, then presumably there would be many more local youngsters graduating.

Surely this would then ­devalue these degrees in the eyes of employers.

I do not think having more universities will improve social mobility for people on low ­incomes.

Rather than building more universities, the government should open more colleges ­offering vocational training.

This will offer more viable career opportunities for those youngsters who have not been able to get a place at a university or who do not want to study for a degree.

Coco Chow, Tseung Kwan O

Why students need tests and homework

I refer to the letter by Donald Chan (“Exam-oriented system needs major reforms”, March 8).

Many students complain that their school schedule is crammed with various tests and the heavy burden of a lot of homework.

However, sometimes I wonder if this is used as an ­excuse for not doing all their homework and neglecting some of their studies. It has to be asked if these youngsters allocate their time wisely. How much time do they spend on their smartphones when they should be studying? It is important for them to do homework and sit tests, as they (and their teachers) can then have a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

I do agree with critics who say schools often have a very narrow view of their curriculums when they should be trying to offer students more opportunities to develop their abilities. However, many schools are now trying to change and offer ­students a variety of activities.

The importance of hard work cannot be neglected. People complain about the local school system being too demanding, but even if you study overseas, it does not mean you will not have to study hard.

I think Hong Kong students need to exercise more self-discipline and have better time management. Parents and schools should work together to help students cultivate a positive attitude towards their learning.

With this approach, they can learn to grow up to become responsible citizens.

Also, in view of the rise in suicides in recent months, there must be more life education in schools so that youngsters can learn how to deal with adversity.

Chloe Ngo, Sha Tin

Party is now even targeting official church

The case of Chinese pastor Bao Guohua (包國華), who has been sentenced to 14 years in prison, is particularly disturbing (“Pastor who opposed campaign is jailed”, February 29).

Although Christians suffered persecution for decades under Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) crackdown on ­religious freedom, there is ­increasing evidence that the ­Chinese Communist Party is even targeting the official church, once regarded as ­verboten to the party’s long arm.

Mr Bao is not alone. His wife, Xing Wenxiang (刑文香), has also been charged and sentenced to 12 years in prison .

Even the prominent Christian lawyer, Zhang Kai, one of scores of lawyers who have been targeted for “inciting subversion”, has been detained since last August.

This is all too reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US

Give police what they need to curb riots

I was visiting Hong Kong during the Mong Kok riot.

The efforts of some social activists to find a politically correct description bordered on the ridiculous. It was a riot, period.

Coming from a country where high-handed police action against peaceful demonstrators, not sanctioned or organised by the ruling elites, are a norm, I can understand the frustrations of those police officers at the front line that night. They were facing a vicious mob and their hands were tied as they tried to contain the rioting.

I do not condone police ­violence but when there’s a breakdown in law and order, the ­police must have the resources available to contain the violence.

Teo Chuen Tick, Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia

Disneyland can revive flagging fortunes

The slump in the number of mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong has hit the Disneyland theme park, which is why it has made losses last year.

There have been arguments in the city between Hongkongers and some mainland visitors over the behaviour of the tourists and this has made some citizens from north of the border decide not to come here.

Another problem is that Shanghai Disneyland is due to open, providing serious competition.

Hong Kong Disneyland has to come up with new and appealing attractions in order to bring back the visitors.

Sheila Wong Mei-chun, Lai Chi Kok