Letters to the editor, April 13, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 5:13pm

Education chief must fix flawed system

In Hong Kong society students are judged by how well they do academically, particularly in the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE).

If your DSE exam results are bad, you won’t get a coveted place at a local university and you will be dubbed a failure. However, I wonder if too much importance is placed on getting a degree. There are plenty of graduates nowadays who ­cannot get a job or who end up earning around HK$10,000 or less a month, which is probably less than a waiter.

There are Hongkongers who left school with a low educational level, but they worked hard and learned new skills in the workplace and they are now able to command good salaries, of between HK$20,0000 and HK$40,000.

Many Western countries have a different education system from Hong Kong and their citizens have a different set of social values. There is far more flexibility and less pressure from kindergarten onwards.

In Hong Kong, and most Asian countries, starting in kindergarten, students learn to ­become little exam machines, with the emphasis on passing exams.

Hong Kong’s educational system needs to change. Piecemeal measures like giving each school HK$5,000 to boost ­student morale will not deal with the problems. The whole education system has to change, along with social values.

Secretary for Education ­Eddie Ng Hak-kim should ­recognise that the spate of ­student suicides illustrates there is a problem. It is part of his job to realise there is something wrong with the system and to fix it.

Vanessa Tang, Sai Kung

Sevens victors deserved to be paid for win

I refer to the report “Mighty ­Fijians ruthless with flair” (April 11).

I read with dismay in your excellent report on the Hong Kong Sevens that the “Hong Kong Rugby Union had decided this year that there was no prize money on offer here any more. It had previously been US$150,000 to the winners, no small amount for the Fijians, few of whom are professional ­players.”

Can the HKRFU and the main sponsors (HSBC and ­Cathay Pacific) please explain their mean-spirited attitude? Many individual soccer players earn in excess of this in just one week.

It is well known that the ­revenue earned by the HKRFU from the Sevens is huge (for which I have no problem as a lot is put towards rugby development in Hong Kong) but for goodness’ sake, reward the entertainers who make the success so regular and enjoyable.

Anthony Kirk-Duncan, Lai Chi Kok

Captive marine animals are miserable

The worldwide captive marine mammal industry inflicts ­cruelty and suffering on thousands of individual animals kept in captivity and continues to threaten wild whale and dolphin populations. Therefore, I think marine animals should not be kept in captivity.

Over the years, millions of people have visited zoological parks. The owners have argued that as most people don’t get to see these animals in the wild, the shows are educational as well as entertaining. They say these captive cetaceans are ambassadors for their species. But this shows a misconception about captivity. It gives audiences an unrealistic picture of marine life in the wild so this calls into question any claimed educational or conservation value.

Wild orcas and dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day in the ocean. The largest tank in the world is only 70 metres long. The deepest recorded dive for an orca is more than 400 metres, but the deepest tank housing an orca is 12 metres.

Tanks are many times noisier than the ocean, the glass and concrete walls inhibit the natural use of sound by whales and dolphins and the water and cooling pumps are heard underwater 24 hours a day.

Naturally, cetaceans live in social groups. However, in captivity, many are kept alone. Nothing in their evolution has prepared whales or dolphins for life in captivity. The result is abnormal behaviour, injury, ­illness, premature death and aggression, not to mention the mental suffering.

If marine parks were no longer allowed to keep cetaceans in captivity, these animals would not simply be released into the sea to fend for themselves. Retirement plans would include extensive rehabilitation programmes tailored for each individual animal and could be undertaken by marine mammal experts and organisations.

Fung Mei-ki, Kowloon Tong

Restaurants can steer clear of at-risk fish

I refer to the letter by Carman Ng Ka-man (“Change eating habits to save threatened fish”, April 10) about restaurants serving humphead wrasse.

­When I was young and went to seafood restaurants, I would see tanks packed with fish like wrasse, giant grouper, red rockfish, perch and eel.

Diners picked what they wanted, not caring if the fish they chose was an endangered ­species. Restaurant managers turned a blind eye to helping to protect these species.

If fish like humphead wrasse are no longer displayed in fish tanks and no longer offered by restaurants, then there would be no market for them and fishermen would have no incentive to catch them. Indeed, I would question the need to have these fish tanks on display. Restaurants can instead offer seawater fish that are not endangered, such as cod, and freshwater fish, for example, various kinds of carp and dace.

In the end of the day, how good the fish tastes at a restaurant will depend on the cooking skills of the chef. That should be the priority for diners rather than choosing a rare fish.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Attitudes in city are now quite negative

In March, Hong Kong’s long-term debt outlook was cut by Moody’s. It made me wonder what sort of grade Hongkongers would give when looking at the city’s future.

There have been a number of controversial issues, such as ­Occupy Central, funding for the express rail link to the mainland and the Lee Po incident.

I think people wonder if ­Beijing will stick to its promise that the Hong Kong system will not be changed for 50 years. Attitudes in the city have become quite negative.

Kenny Tong, Tseung Kwan O

Airline did try to help out passenger

I refer to the letter from Peter Simpson (“Disgraceful treatment by Dragonair”, April 4).

We are sorry to have learned of Mr Simpson’s experience. He flew into Hong Kong on another airline to connect to Dragonair. However, there was no record of wheelchair assistance required in his Dragonair booking.

We always advise passengers to inform the airline in advance and provide relevant details, such as the weight and size of their personal wheelchair, for efficient handling. Details are available at www.dragonair.com.

We would like to assure your readers that our colleagues at the airport offered assistance as much as possible in making the necessary arrangement.

We thank Mr Simpson for his feedback and are addressing his concerns directly.

Joseph Anthony Schaffel Gonzalez, assistant manager, customer relations, Dragonair