Letters to the editor, April 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 April, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 April, 2016, 12:16am

Red rainstorm warning was not necessary

I refer to the letter by Philip Leung (“Rainstorm warning was wrong one”, April 19), regarding the rainstorm event on Wednesday, April 13.

Amber and red rainstorm warning signals are issued when heavy rain has fallen or is expected to fall generally over Hong Kong, exceeding 30mm and 50mm in an hour respectively, and is likely to continue.

On April 13, rain was the heaviest in the morning when rainfall of more than 40mm was recorded in an hour in most parts of Hong Kong, ­meeting the criterion of the amber rainstorm warning signal.

Since the rain band moved south across the territory rather quickly and weakened gradually, widespread areas in Hong Kong were not persistently affected by rain of over 50mm per hour.

As such, there was no need to issue a red rainstorm warning signal. I would like to stress that whenever the Observatory issues an amber rainstorm warning signal, there can be flooding in some low-lying and poorly drained areas.

Members of the public should therefore take the necessary precautions to reduce their ­exposure to risk posed by heavy rain and flooding.

Regarding the feasibility of implementing rainstorm warnings for individual regions of Hong Kong, it should be noted that heavy rain can ­develop spontaneously and quickly, and moves from one ­region to ­another.

Considering the level of technology nowadays, by the time a warning is issued for a particular region and reaches the people concerned, the rain band may have already departed from the region and the usefulness of such a regional warning diminishes.

Having said that, the Hong Kong Observatory will continue to safeguard the public through science and explore ways to ­announce more detailed rainfall information so that the public can grasp the ­latest weather ­situation and take appropriate safety measures.

Lee Kwok-lun, scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Government must look into causes of riot

The government should not have seen arresting rioters as its only ­priority, following the disturbances in Mong Kok in February.

It should have been trying to ascertain the causes of the riot and recognise that they are linked to instability in society. Many citizens believe “one country, two systems” has been undermined and this has led to dissatisfaction.

If a society is unstable, itss people feel insecure. That insecurity was exacerbated by the disappearance of the five Causeway Bay booksellers. It made some people ask if this would happen to them if they spoke out strongly against the central government. Some are so concerned they have taken to the streets in protest.

We have not been able to see our demand for universal ­suffrage realised. We perceive the central government as trying to control Hong Kong, despite “one country, two systems”, and threaten the guarantee that our way of life, including capitalism and the rule of law, will stay intact for 50 years after the handover.

Of course, it is not appropriate to use violence and damage public property. This kind of behaviour puts social harmony at risk. But the central and Hong Kong governments, through their actions, are also undermining social harmony.

The Hong Kong administration should recognise this and seek to understand some of the causes behind the Mong Kok riot.

Through its policies, it should be trying to maintain harmony in society.

Sabrina Tam Hor-yeung, Sha Tin

City needs a ‘joined-up’ school system

In the last few days the South China Morning Post has run a number of articles indicating that a sizeable majority of our secondary school students do not have appropriate backgrounds to take on what are known as the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at our universities.

By inference, this must also mean that they are also unqualified for enrolling in similar courses at tertiary learning institutes outside of the territory. Bluntly speaking, they are not fit for purpose.

When the changes to the education system were being planned some time ago, a key feature being the lopping of one year off secondary school and bolting an extra one onto most university courses, did the powers that be not think through the likely outcomes of this reform?

Through no fault of their own, we now have a large bunch of kids who have been left in ­limbo land.

Their only hope is to spend the first year or so at university playing catch up and this is ridiculous.

I often hear people criticising the authorities and saying that Hong Kong needs “joined-up government”.

I would like to add a new phrase: the city needs a “joined-up education system”.

Jason Ali, Lantau

Easier exams, but still a lot of pressure

The core subjects in this year’s Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam have been completed and students have been ­discussing the papers.

The general feedback has been they were much easier than papers in past years. Some will say this will have been beneficial to students and perhaps ease the pressure they are under, but to be honest I do not think it makes that much difference, ­because the bulk of the pressure comes from the school system.

To begin with, the learning method adopted by most local secondary schools in Hong Kong is based on spoon-feeding knowledge to students. They memorise material for the ­purposes of exams, but many may not fully understand the ­material and it will have no relevance to their daily lives.

Students who are not good at memorising so much material will often feel frustrated and have to attend tutorial classes after school. They then feel tired during the school day.

With so many tutorial classes, they end up with little time to ­relax. They have no time for themselves and so feel under tremendous pressure. This can have a negative impact on their psychological development.

Changes to the education system are clearly necessary, but I appreciate it will take time to implement reforms.

I hope the Education Bureau will recognise the need for ­reforms. It should look at how schools operate in some countries where the education ­system is more progressive and use that as a reference. The learning process should be an enjoyable experience.

Angela Siu Wing-yan, Tai Wai

All members of council doctors and dentists

I refer to the report, “Doctors slam plans for medical watchdog” (April 20), in which you say, “Lawmaker and doctor Kwok Ka-ki criticised the government, saying that half of the 26 voters in the Academy of Medicine were not doctors.”

This is incorrect. All 26 Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (HKAM) council members are registered doctors or dentists in Hong Kong.

More importantly, the academy has a unique role in the Medical Council, which is to maintain the standards of local medical/dental specialist training and accreditation.

This is comparable to that of the two universities responsible for undergraduate medical ­education. The vetting and recommendation on admission to the specialist register of the Medical Council is the responsibility of the HKAM and empowered by statute. Those elected by the HKAM council to sit on the Medical Council need to have the necessary experience, qualification, reputation, and respect of the medical profession. Our role, not simply the number of HKAM fellows, justifies our position in the Medical Council.

The 26 members of HKAM council are elected through various general election exercises. There is a fair representation of all 15 colleges under HKAM.

Election of representatives to the Medical Council through the HKAM council demonstrates fairness to all colleges irrespective of their sizes, whichvary significantly from under 200 to over 1,600 fellows. A general polling is fair to individual ­fellows but may sacrifice the rights of colleges with a smaller number of fellows. Weighing the two, we consider the rights of colleges more important, as each specialty college makes an equal contribution to the public.

Dr Donald Li, president, Hong Kong Academy of Medicine

Toilets at MTR station are in a filthy state

Perhaps the MTR Corporation ought to fine itself for its ­routinely poor upkeep of the washrooms at East Tsim Sha Tsui station.

Ever since assuming control from the KCRC, the men’s toilet is more often than not filthy or in a state of disrepair; flushing and sink faucets are non-functional.

I find it incredible that with its massive profits, the MTR Corp cannot provide enough cleaning staff to look after an obviously high-traffic facility, to provide at least a modicum of cleanliness for its passengers. Under KCRC management, the washrooms were in much better shape.

In contrast, the public washrooms at the busy Lam Tsuen wishing trees are kept tidy and working, and are even decorated with fresh flowers to make visitors feel welcome.

The MTR Corp should be ashamed of itself.

Randall van der Woning, Tai Po