Letters to the Editor, June 23, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 5:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 5:47pm

Our tourism sector needs new ideas

The opening of Shanghai Disneyland earlier this month has highlighted the stagnant state of tourism in Hong Kong.

Many people have expressed concern that Hong Kong Disneyland will now be marginalised. It is feared that it will continue to get fewer visitors and this could create problems for tourism in Hong Kong.

The tourism industry has been a ­major pillar of Hong Kong’s ­economy.

The city is seen as an all-in-one tourist destination, a modern city where visitors can experience a mix of cultures. In 2014, there were more than 60 million visitors, but there is little room for complacency or overconfidence.

Some people argue that a slump in the number of visitors is down to the sector relying too much on visitors from the mainland.

Others argue that there has been a lack of stimulation. It has to be asked whether Hong Kong can live up to its title of Asia’s world city?

There are not enough tourist destinations or facilities. There has been little in the way of new attractions since Disneyland opened in 2005. The sector is lacklustre, especially when compared with regional rivals such as Singapore and Shanghai.

The focus has been on dining and shopping, and many foreigners appear to be fed up with this. When they are going to visit a city, they are more interested in its culture. We cannot keep ­depending on our reputation as a food and shoppers’ paradise.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board must recognise the need to change and to take the initiative.

There should be far greater promotion of the unique aspects of Hong Kong’s culture.

We should try to get West Kowloon Cultural District ready for visitors as soon as possible. And we have to further develop the potential of the cruise terminal at Kai Tak.

The government should be trying to promote regional cooperation with neighbouring ports to boost the attractiveness of our terminal to cruise liner operators.

It’s time for a proactive approach not just at our Disneyland theme park but also for the whole Hong Kong tourism ­sector.

Matt Kwok, Wong Tai Sin

Travel decision demonstrates rule of law

I must take issue with your ­editorial, “Ma decision a blot on Taiwan’s image” (June 14).

Rather than tarnishing Taiwan’s image, I would suggest that the Taiwanese government’s decision to deny the former president Ma Ying-jeou’s ­request to travel to Hong Kong does quite the opposite and ­enhances it.

Turning down Ma’s request, which was made at short notice and with full knowledge of the 2003 law under which former ­officials with access to high-level classified security information are subject to travel restrictions, arguably demonstrates the strength of Taiwan’s democracy and the rule of law.

To have approved Ma’s visit to Hong Kong would have demonstrated a readiness on the part of the new administration to allow political factors to influence the application of the law. That would, indeed, have been a blot on Taiwan’s democracy.

Had the positions been ­reversed, I have no doubt that Ma Ying-jeou’s administration would not have hesitated to use the same law to ­prevent Tsai Ing-wen from ­leaving Taiwan so soon after ­standing down from the office of president.

The law is the law and should be applied accordingly. Such is the nature of democratic systems. And none of your readers should be puzzled by that.

Don Brech, Causeway Bay

Ensure equal rights for school places

I agree with those who argue that the scramble for places at good local primary schools in Hong Kong has become more acute and low-income families generally lose out.

The government is not addressing this problem. If it fails to act, then the children of many poor families will feel that they will never be given the chance to receive a better education.

Regarding education and the allocation of places, everyone should have equal rights, whether they are well off or poor. ­However, it seems the former win out when it comes to getting places in good schools.

One group has claimed that the least wealthy families have less than half the chance of the wealthiest of sending a child to a top-rated school.

Better-off families can send their children to extracurricular activities which can give them an advantage. By contrast, low-income families often struggle to have enough money to pay for the food they need. So their children lose out in the competition for places at top schools.

As the rich-poor gap widens, then so will this education inequality, with richer families being able to afford more extracurricular and tutorial classes, which can give them the edge in interviews. We will therefore see greater intergenerational poverty.

This scramble for places can only get worse unless the government acts now to provide a fairer environment for all.

Alice Wan Tsz-ki, Tseung Kwan O

More suicides will happen if we fail to act

I am worried about the pressure students face in Hong Kong, which has led to more of them taking their own lives.

Too often, this pressure to get good grades comes from teachers and schools. To boost their chances of doing well, they face a lot of tests and quizzes.

I appreciate teachers’ intentions are good. They want to help the students do well academically and achieve their goals, but sometimes they fail to appreciate that they are pushing youngsters too hard.

This is not helped by parents whose expectations are too high and who punish their children if they get poor results in their exams.

Parents can also make things worse by signing their sons and daughters up for tutorial classes. Consequently, they can sometimes feel even more stressed.

Many youngsters find that it takes them a lot of time to finish all their homework. If it is too difficult, they may not be able to complete it. Again, this adds to the pressure.

With cram schools and tutorial colleges, a lot of teens simply do not have enough time to ­relax.

They may not even have any free time during vacations, when they want to have some fun with their friends. For some, it all builds up until it is unbearable and ends in tragedy.

Enormous academic pressure is the prime cause of ­student suicides in Hong Kong. Teachers and parents need to encourage, not punish, students when they have unsatisfactory results.

They have to recognise the negative impact that comes from too much pressure.

All of us in society need to do what we can to address the problem of too much pressure being imposed on our students. If we fail to act, there will be more suicides.

Anna Yu, Shek Kip Mei

Sermon has no place on public radio station

I am a lover of classical music and every morning I tune in to RTHK Radio Four to listen to the excellent Morning Call hosted by Jonathan Douglas.

The choice of music is eclectic and the interviews often of quality. However, at 9.51am, the programme is interrupted by Minutes that Matter, a Christian rant on Christian values, a sermon often followed by some prayers.

I find this totally out of place on public radio in a society that has a secular government. It is unacceptable that such a relic of our colonial past would still exist.

This would be OK if only ­other faiths were also represented (such as Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism) but the exclusion of these only makes the matter worse as a public service radio station becomes the mouthpiece of a single faith that does not represent the patchwork of Hong Kong’s spiritual diversity.

Minutes that Matter has no place on Radio Four or on any public radio and this programme should be scrapped.

Chris Barthélémy, Sai Kung