Letters to the editor, April 12, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2016, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2016, 4:30pm

Central needs congestion charge system

With the growing number of cars in Hong Kong traffic, congestion has been getting steadily worse.

In one of the worst blackspots, Central, on Hong Kong Island, traffic jams are particularly bad. If you drive in there during busy periods, it can take an hour or more before you can get out.

The government is now considering introducing some sort of congestion charge, such as electronic road pricing (ERP) and I can see the advantages of implementing such a scheme.

The aim would be to introduce this charge in the areas with the worst congestion, such as Central and Admiralty.

The intention is that rather than paying the charge, drivers will choose other less congested roads. It is certainly one way of tackling gridlock in the central business district, given that this has been a serious and long-term problem.

I would also hope that ERP might even encourage some motorists to leave their car at home some days and take some form of public transport instead.

Obviously, if there are fewer cars in Central, then there will also be less air pollution with fewer exhaust emissions.

Singapore has had ERP for many years and London also has a congestion charge system. In both cities, there has been an improvement in congestion problems, thanks to the introduction of these policies.

Given that these charging systems have been so effective elsewhere, I think ERP should be imposed in those parts of Hong Kong where it can make a real difference.

I also think it is a fair system as it is based on the “user pays” principle.

Only those who are using the roads need to pay the fee. It also brings revenue to the government, which can be ­invested in transport infrastructure pro-jects.

There is no doubt in my mind that if ERP is used in the city’s worst congested areas, we will see fewer vehicles on the roads and lower levels of roadside ­pollution, with fewer greenhouse gases.

I think it is clear that this is a policy that the government will have to implement and I hope it can be introduced in Central in the near future.

Cheung Man-ting, Kowloon Tong

Parents must keep talking to their children

I refer to the letter by Katrina Lo (“Parents have very important role to play”, April 5).

The government and ­citizens need to face up to the ­recent high rate of suicides among students in Hong Kong.

Parents need to recognise there is a problem and ensure that they talk as much as ­possible with their children.

This helps youngsters to ­realise that their parents care about them and can reduce the pressure they often feel from school. Schools need to hold talks and explain to their students the importance of trying to remain positive even when they feel stressed.

Youngsters should feel that they can talk freely with friends, teachers and social workers, if they are experiencing stress and other psychological problems. It always feels better when you have talked with someone you can trust.

It is always best to encourage young people to take positive ­action to deal with their ­problems.

Louis Fung Lam-lap, Sau Mau Ping

Steep drop in happiness level not surprising

A survey has found that Hong Kong students are a lot less happy than they were eight years ago.

I think one of the main ­reasons for this level of dissatisfaction is the local education system. Many students think that happiness equates with ­getting good grades in school.

Many of them try to cram too much into the school year.

They think they will do better at school if they sign up for a lot of extracurricular activities.

They then end up in fierce competition with their peers to get a place at a better school. They may often be doing activities in which they have little ­interest and this is one reason why they feel less happy.

They also face a lot of pressure because there are so many tests and exams, such as the ­Diploma of Secondary Education and the Territory-wide ­Systems Assessment.

Often parents and teachers make them feel under even more pressure, by saying how important these exams are for their future prospects and the school’s reputation.

Sometimes they will have to attend extra classes at the school during school holidays.

So many students now do not have the time to do what they want, such as playing with friends, being outdoors and spending time on their smartphones.

Also, many are not getting enough sleep.

During the school week, some get only six to seven hours a night and this is simply not enough for children. Experts say that between the ages of five and 12, they should be getting much more sleep than that, at least 10 hours a night.

Given all these problems, it is hardly surprising that children in Hong Kong are less happy than they used to be and we need to take notice of these issues and how they affect youngsters.

Yoyo Wong, Yau Yat Chuen

Reforms in local schools long overdue

The stressful Hong Kong ­Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exams are now under way.

The HKDSE is very stressful for students, but so is the whole ­local school curriculum. It puts youngsters and their parents under pressure.

There is so much spoon-feeding and many youngsters just learn material and regurgitate it. They are not acquiring knowledge that they can use in their daily lives and that will help them as they grow up and live in society. So many parents only care about children getting a good report card and forget about other equally important things, such as having time to play. They can be overprotective and that makes it difficult for these young people to learn to become independent as they grow up.

Our officials don’t understand these problems, because they probably send their children to international schools, which most Hong Kong families cannot afford. Students in Western countries are encouraged to think for themselves and to think creatively.

Education secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim must introduce ­reforms to improve the education system. Students should be taught in a way that they can learn to think for themselves and actually understand the knowledge they are taught in class. The spoon-feeding methods of teaching must be changed.

Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O

Make Sevens more inclusive next year

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is a very colourful event, but can’t the organisers and sponsors make it more inclusive?

On Friday, a taxi driver who was dropping me off at Hong Kong Stadium said I was lucky to have a ticket. That set me ­thinking that the event is too ­exclusive. Most tickets go to corporate clients and institutions. Some are reserved for rugby clubs which is again privileged access. Not enough tickets are made available to the public. There should be a greater allocation by lottery for residents and those who get a ticket could be excluded in subsequent years (like Wimbledon).

Also, the organisers should sell daily tickets instead of a three-day package. Most people don’t go on Friday.

It is a great sporting event in a fun-filled atmosphere – by ­making it more inclusive, it will have enduring appeal.

Rahil Ahuja, Repulse Bay