Letters to the editor, March 31, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 4:19pm

Officials must pounce on dumping

The Tin Shui Wai “waste hill” has put the spotlight on the topic of illegal dumping of waste in Hong Kong.

One of the main reasons illegal dumping is such a problem in Hong Kong is inadequate surveillance and supervision by the government. When, as in Tin Shui Wai, nearby residents ­complain, officials are slow or fail to act.

Swift action is needed by the government. It must have a comprehensive monitoring system and it must cooperate with citizens when they register a complaint.

Closed-circuit TVs cannot be set up everywhere, but hotline numbers should allow officials to spring into action when they receive complaints, with no ­excuse for delays.

Also, there must be much tougher penalties for individuals and companies found guilty of illegal dumping.

At the moment, they feel they can act with impunity, and so there must be deterrents in place through the courts .

Firms may think twice about dumping waste illegally if they know they face the prospect of paying heavy fines.

Zita Chan Long-sum, Kowloon Tong

Chow a hard act to follow at the EOC

It was disheartening, though not surprising, that York Chow Yat-ngok was not retained as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Under Chow’s leadership, the EOC has been proactive in advocating rights for ­different minority groups, ­including the rights of our ­lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

Unsurprisingly, this drew fire from some quarters in the community, with allegations that Chow was biased and improper in his push for gay rights.

Bemusement aside, this really showed the ignorance of these naysayers. As a quasi-human rights commission, it was fitting and proper for the EOC to undertake studies and make recommendations to advance LGBT rights in Hong Kong. In fact, we should be grateful that the EOC did not shy away from controversial issues and took its advocacy role seriously.

What really troubled me was the attitude of our government. Not only did it fail to take on a leadership role on the human rights aspect and ­rebut the attacks against Chow, I believe he was not given a second term because of his unequivocal stance on LGBT rights.

If this is the case, then it really shows how much this government cares about human rights in general and the welfare of Hong Kong’s LGBT citizens in particular.

Discrimination can never be justified nor condoned; I encourage the incoming chairman, Professor Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, to seize the opportunity and take the lead to advance human rights for all.

Chow deserves our heartfelt thanks for exposing the injustice faced by our LGBT citizens, and his legacy at the EOC will not be forgotten.

Jerome Yau, Happy Valley

Dogs have no place staying in apartments

I refer to Jean Afford’s letter on the subject of allowing dogs to reside in apartments in Hong Kong (“More good than harm if pets allowed”, March 25).

Allowing highly strung little dogs to stay in small apartments with limited opportunities for exercise is the height of madness.

These creatures may well then spend long periods during the day barking incessantly, cooped up in the apartment, driving their neighbours mad.

Morality has nothing to do with this issue, which is mainly about common sense and the practicalities of life in land-starved Hong Kong.

Nicholas Rogers, Mid-Levels

Rein in eating habits to cut food waste

More than 3,000 tonnes of food waste is generated in Hong Kong every day. Most of it goes into our landfills and we are gaining a reputation as the world’s ­leading food-waste city.

One of the reasons this is such a problem here is that food is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Whether you go to a supermarket, wet market, or restaurant, you can choose from a wide variety of food. People ­often buy more than they need when shopping and do not bother about the expiry date. If it is not consumed before that date, households simply discard it and it adds to the pile of waste.

When there is no lack of food and it is so affordable, people do not treasure it. Many Hongkongers waste food without thinking about the consequences for the environment.

Hongkongers love buffets and the all-you-can-eat culture they encourage.

Diners pile food on their plates without thinking if they will be able to finish it all.

They also tend to order too much in restaurants when meeting for meals during festivals like Lunar New Year or Christmas. There is the same waste problem at Chinese ­wedding banquets, where the hosts have lots of dishes served so as not to lose face.

The government has not done enough to curb this food waste problem. There should be sufficient organic waste treatment plants and it should be ­ensuring that supermarkets and restaurants can, where possible, donate edible unused food to charities.

It should do more to educate people to cut waste at source. This is the best way of generating less waste. People need to change their eating habits.

Yu Sum-kiu, Kowloon Tong

Online tool can help students’ understanding

More countries are developing e-learning for their schools and I think students in Hong Kong can use it to their advantage.

I have been very impressed by an online product called ­MobyMax. It offers excellent online learning resources. I ­believe it is an amazing tool that can help students to go over what they learned in the previous school year. After the ­summer break, I forget a lot of what was covered and I am sure other students feel the same.

I think MobyMax should be widely applied in schools in Hong Kong, as it is in a number of countries.

However, it is important to ensure youngsters have the right attitude when it comes to using the internet to study.

With traditional learning, having to reference so many books can be confusing.

With e-learning, it so much easier as you can do keyword searches.

This gives you much quicker results when you’re looking for a lot of information. Studying this way online can help you have a deeper understanding of a subject.

Chloe Chan, Lam Tin

Extra tutorials are not for everyone

Attending tutorial classes after school has become a growing trend among students in Hong Kong.

These classes are important to many youngsters, because they can help them get into a better local secondary school and later win an undergraduate place at a university. Students and their parents often feel hopeless when faced with this uphill academic struggle and feel that a tutorial college can give them a much-needed ­helping hand.

However, while these colleges can be beneficial, there can also be a downside for some youngsters.

The main advantage is that it hones their exam skills and gives them an edge when answering exam questions. This is not something most schools teach. In class, teachers stick to the ­material contained in the ­syllabus. This is because they need to follow the curriculum set by government.

There is no additional time to look in detail at exam papers and offer advice about the best way to tackle the questions. The strong point of these colleges is that they can concentrate on exam papers.

However, the disadvantage is that students already have a heavy school workload, including homework. Going to tutorial classes adds to this ­burden and it leaves them less time to relax and do sports and other leisure activities.

If they face this heavy workload with no time to relieve the stress, they may lose any interest in learning and the tutorial colleges will have been counterproductive.

Not all tutorial colleges offer a high-quality service. If students are unlucky enough to go to a substandard one, then they will not gain from the experience.

Parents and their children have to discuss the matter and think carefully before deciding if enrolling at a tutorial college is right for them.

Pokfield Chan, Tai Po