Letters to the editor, May 3, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 5:22pm

Many elderly citizens still prefer Octopus

I refer to the letter by Simon Wang (“Phase out Octopus cards to pave way for truly cashless society”, April 28).

With advances in technology, it is not difficult to envisage having a cashless society in the near future. However, at present, it is not necessary to phase out Octopus cards.

The purpose of achieving a cashless society is to bring people convenience. Since being introduced in the last ­century, Octopus cards have proved to be very convenient. They are user-friendly and suitable for all age groups.

Although more elderly citizens are learning how to use smartphones, they might have difficulty making daily transactions using mobile payment apps when, for example, they are buying groceries or using public transport.

When faced with a choice, most of them will want to stick with Octopus. I think these cards will continue to be used as a convenient form of payment for a number of years.

As your correspondent pointed out, because of competition among mobile payment app providers, transaction fees can be driven down to affordable levels. But this will take time and Octopus cards still have their uses. And as technology develops, Octopus can be ­upgraded.

The cards are still widely used and should not be phased out in the near future.

Ruby Fon, Sha Tin

Abominable to spend a fortune on pier

I am incredulous that restoring Queen’s Pier is going to result in a bill to the taxpayer of HK$100 million plus, rising to HK$303 million (“Calls to put Queen’s Pier back where it used to be”, April 27).

Are people in local government nonchalant about spending other people’s money so flamboyantly?

This is an enormous, amount of money, yet a sum casually bandied around. It’s not a bargain.

I remember the structure well. It was pretty ordinary, ­despite all the hype when it was dismantled, and I recall the ­columns appeared to be clad in cheap concrete. It should have just been left standing there ­instead of a great hullabaloo being made.

Yes, it was a useful shade from sunshine when waiting for a boat. But, there are plenty of shaded areas near the existing piers. Depositing the old pier where it used to stand, merely to show where the old harbourfront was located before being filled in, is totally pointless.

Compared to other useless projects – like expensive mega bridges, or hyper-quick railways to nowhere practical – perhaps this doesn’t seem like big-ticket expenditure, but it is.

To spend money on any such projects, bridges to far-flung ­casinos, swanky government ­palaces and so on, while Hong Kong’s senior citizens have no pensions to live on comfortably and few new hospitals are being built, is abominable.

I realise a great deal of our municipal funds are frittered away on wasteful construction and our money is treated in a cavalier fashion, but the public doesn’t have to endorse it.

Simon Osborne, Pok Fu Lam

Encourage students to speak English

Given the importance of English globally, more local schools have been switching to it as the medium of instruction from Cantonese. Despite these efforts, standards of English in Hong Kong continue to decline, and this is reflected in exam and test results, where many students do badly.

It has dropped in global rankings, including the English Proficiency Index, and has fallen behind some Asian countries, including Indonesia and Japan, and behind some mainland ­cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. I am concerned about these trends and wonder if we are looking at a long-term ­decline in proficiency.

Some people have commented that the weakest links for Hongkongers relate to writing and speaking skills. More innovative teaching methods need to be explored in local schools. However, the present education system focuses on exam results, which puts students under a lot of pressure.

When they are stressed out in class, it is difficult for them to enjoy the learning process.

I think teachers should be encouraged to try and create a more relaxed atmosphere and make the learning process more interesting. Students should be encouraged to try and speak in English as much as possible. The more talkative they become, the more confident they will feel with the language.

Bobo Man,Tseung Kwan O

Imposing retirement age is wrong

There should be no set retirement age in Hong Kong.

If a specific age is imposed, more elderly citizens will be forced out of work and will claim benefits and the economy could suffer.

We have to deal with the effects of an ageing society and accept that the low birth rate means it will be difficult to replace all those people who retire.

Yoyo Chu, Ho Man Tin

Utilise idle venues and get more tourists

I refer to the report, “Bring them back: Hong Kong tourist industry urges better services to entice mainland China visitors” (May 2). Local tourism-sector leaders want improvements in service to lift visitor numbers from the mainland, which have fallen.

These tourists from north of the border do make a contribution to our gross domestic product, but is it wise to focus solely on attracting them to boost the sector? We place too much ­emphasis on them. We should be trying to target tourists from around the world and not just focus on mainlanders.

The government does not need to develop more malls to appeal to shopaholics or parallel traders. I do not think the proposed cross-border malls are necessary. Many tourists, including those from the mainland, are losing interest in malls. They are looking for more variety, for something a bit different. For example, one simple strategy would be preserving more historical sites and buildings.

We also need to make better use of venues that often lie idle, such as AsiaWorld-Expo and the Hong Kong Coliseum. The government and other organisations could make better use of these venues and hold more activities there, such as exhibitions and performances. This would attract visitors interested in Hong Kong’s artistic development.

We must think of innovative ways to attract more visitors.

S. Sun, Lam Tin

Wrong to look down on low-paid jobs

I often hear young people being told that if they do not work harder in their studies, they will end up with no choice but to do a job like a construction worker.

It saddens me that Hong Kong people are influenced by such long-held beliefs and it leads parents to have misconceptions. They want their children to become professionals, such as a lawyer or a doctor, because the pay is high and they enjoy a high social status.

It is wrong to assume that all those who are doing low-skilled jobs did not work hard enough at school. Constructions workers also have to undergo ­training. And nowadays they can earn good incomes.

Citizens need to respect ­people from all lines of work and not look down on them because they are not professionals. We must shed the old prejudices in Hong Kong.

Alice Wu Sing-wing, Sha Tin