Letters to the editor, March 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 2016, 5:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 2016, 5:42pm

Less pressure, not cash, will help students

I refer to the report, “What’s the value of Hongkongers’ lives? Education chief gets earful over HK$5,000 payout per school to fight student suicides” (March 21). Officials seem to believe that giving money to government subsidised schools can help to deal with the spate of student suicides.

I believe those young people who took their own lives did so because they felt incredible pressure caused by their academic studies. It seems that this pressure is getting more intense for primary and secondary ­students. Many are forced to do homework until late at night for tests like the Territory-wide ­System Assessment.

Given that pressure, one has to ask if HK$5,000 for every school can actually make a difference and get to the root of the problem. It will not lead to a reduced workload or fewer exams and tests. Nor will it result in ­students enjoying more much-needed leisure time.

And it will not lead Hong Kong’s “monster parents” to lower their high expectations of their children. Therefore, I consider this injection of cash to be meaningless.

The aim of the money is for schools to “organise activities and talks that instil positive messages”. However, students are already encouraged to believe things like “Life is priceless” and “Nothing is unachievable” on a daily basis. If these upbeat messages could make a difference, we would not already have such a high suicide rate.

This sum is not even enough for a school to hire another social worker to help students deal with their psychological problems.

The Education Bureau needs to try to come up with more effective schemes to deal with this tragic situation.

Priscilla Ko Ka-ying, Tseung Kwan O

Minister’s lack of chat not a smart move

I refer to the report, “Protesters confront Hong Kong education chief in car, accuse him of ­playing with smartphone” (March 20), regarding education chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim.

Mr Ng was stuck in his limousine after attending a ceremony at a secondary school as ­students asked to talk to him. Instead of doing so, he was seen with his smartphone [which he says was for work].

During his tenure, education levels have fallen. Since the start of the academic year, there has been a rise in the number of ­student suicides. I believe that he should step down.

Whether he was playing with the smartphone or working, is immaterial. He should have stepped out of his car to talk to the students.

Michael Ko, Tsing Yi

More good than harm if pets allowed

Joan Miyaoka highlighted a deed of mutual covenant clause of “no dogs allowed” that should no longer be enforced (“It is morally wrong to ban dog ownership in housing estates”, March 19).

I know of many who would love to take care of a dog but ­cannot because a few narrow-minded people adhere to outdated rules. It is sad they feel this way due to lack of education. These people can cause unnecessary anguish, which in turn breeds disharmony.

Kindergarten education lays the foundation for future generations to appreciate our relationship with animals. An unreasonable fear of dogs stems from a lack of understanding.

Young children have an ­innate love for animals and at Wembley International Kindergarten, we try to encourage this love and empathy through our pat-a-pet programme, which has been operating for over 33 years. Many parents have said how much they love the programme, as otherwise their children would have no experience of caring for a dog.

I hope Joan Miyaoka’s letter will persuade the authorities to make the changes that are sorely needed.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten

Unity is vital in the fight against terror

The bombings in Brussels which left 31 people dead were the latest terrorist attacks, which are happening all over the world.

If we go back as far as the attacks on the World Trade ­Centre on September 11, 2011, we can see that these attacks have one thing in common – and that is the heavy toll in terms of deaths and ­serious injuries.

However, not only are precious lives lost, but these attacks can hurt the economy of the country or city that is ­targeted. And then there is the psychological trauma suffered by those who survived, and have to try to rebuild their lives.

This is a beautiful global village, and yet so many people are victims of terrorism. ­However, we must ­remind ­ourselves that as it is a global ­village, we should stay united against these intolerable acts.

People should show their solidarity and determination against terrorism on social networking sites. This will encourage more people to ­express their support for the ­global fight against these terrorists.

Governments around the world must step up their fight against such attacks. They need to be more effective in preventing them.

A country on its own cannot curb these ­people, but we can prevail if we stay united.

Immediately after an atrocity, there are outpourings of grief and sympathy and then people begin to forget. However, we must keep reminding ourselves that there is no room for complacency.

Hebe Ng Yik-huen, Tseung Kwan O

Government should target lawbreakers

The image of legislator Lee Cheuk-yan being manhandled by police at a Tin Shui Wai dump site and the subsequent comments made by Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po is another vivid example of why the Hong Kong public has become so disillusioned with authority in Hong Kong.

The announcement made by Mr Chan that three departments will follow up on the matter was a clear message that action will be slow at best; non-existent at worst.

May I remind those in authority of the landslide in Po Shan Road/Kotewell Road, in 1972, that killed 67 people and forced the government to ­address the dangers of unstable slopes.

I recollect, with a heavy heart, the Aberfan disaster in Wales in 1966 when a shifting coal tip buried an infants’ school with the loss of 144 lives, 116 of whom were children. As one witness at the subsequent ­tribunal said, “Buried alive by the National Coal Board”.

Shame on those in government for once again making ­excuses for its failure to prosecute those who flaunt the law with such blatant impunity and life-threatening consequences.

Jim Francis, North Point

Illegal dump site needs urgent action

I refer to the report, “Heap of trouble: residents protest at lack of action over illegal and ‘unstable’ earth mound in Hong Kong’s Tin Shui Wai” (March 15).

The fate of the massive mound in Tin Shui Wai remains unresolved. At least eight activists and a lawmaker were arrested over a dramatic protest on Sunday when they entered the site of the illegal waste hill and tried to shovel earth into bags to take to government offices.

This was the second protest by this group, the Land Justice League, over the weekend. On Saturday, they entered the construction site of the controversial high-speed rail link in Austin to call for work to be halted.

Their anger about what has happened in Tin Shui Wai is shared by local residents. They are frustrated by the sluggish reaction of the government, which is failing to tackle this act of illegal dumping that has created a four-storey-high mound covering an area the size of two football pitches.

What has happened in Tin Shui Wai is not an isolated incident. Across Hong Kong, many cases of illegal dumping are unresolved. If the government keeps ignoring this, residents will lose their patience. They will not continue to allow their environment to be destroyed. The government has a responsibility to protect our environment.

If it fails to do this, citizens will lose their trust in the administration and we will see more protests. Also, I fear that some of these demonstrations could turn violent.

Wong Ka-lam, Kwun Tong