Letters to the Editor, July 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 July, 2016, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 July, 2016, 4:42pm

Our society has become so sick and cynical

I refer to Peter Kammerer’s ­column (“Hong Kong firefighters who died in Ngau Tau Kok blaze were brave, but were they really heroes?”, July 5).

In Hong Kong, words of cynicism and criticism abound. We have a robust media culture reeking of fault-finding and nit-picking. We have bureaucrats who are good at nothing but finger-pointing and buck-passing. Seldom do we hear praise and words of appreciation.

Kammerer cautions that the use of the word “hero” to ­describe the two brave firefighters who lost their lives battling the Ngau Tau Kok blaze is a bit of an overstatement. He suggests that adjectives like “brave” and “courageous” will do.

The extraordinary outpouring of emotions following the death of the two firefighters attests to some noble qualities of mankind – compassion, comradeship, a sense of community, among others. The overflow of grief and tributes is just spontaneous and human.

As the public shows support for firefighters by showering them with blessings, their acts are branded by some as hypocritical. The backlash against the “Salute to Our Firefighters” campaign launched by some artists is an example. One can only lament how sick our society has become.

Regrettably, Kammerer is among those who are quick to jump in. He speaks of last ­October’s scandal that revealed the sexual harassment of new ­recruits and describes firefighters as spending most of the time training and checking equipment, implying that risks ­account for only a small amount of their time. Isn’t it a bit too merciless and out of tune?

The tributes we pay to firefighters will not detract from ­efforts to find out what went wrong in the operation and looking into the lax inspection of industrial buildings in town.

There are always lessons to be learnt but what have we learnt from the loss of lives from a human side? Kammerer answered it himself – someone doesn’t have to die for the hero accolade to be applied. The ­inferno has evoked from us a greater sense of appreciation to the many unsung heroes in our society.

In a city fraught with criticism, praise and words of appreciation are dismally lacking. If only we could give credit where credit is due.

Borromeo Li Ka-kit, Happy Valley

Give young people chance to be creative

STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) ­education is playing a more ­important role in the schooling of teenagers. In the US, for ­example, US$210 million is to be alloted to promote STEM ­education.

It can prepare teenagers to have the skills to meet the future needs of society. They are taught to develop the capability to solve problems, and to be innovative and ­creative.

Our school is trying to help students develop some of these skills with its Odyssey of Mind Club. The club has to create a project and present it in a competition. The school provides minimal help to the students. This enables them to think creatively and develop problem- solving skills.

Instead of rote learning, students need to be able to think about the knowledge they acquire and to evaluate evidence.

Learning these skills as young adults can help them make a contribution to society when they start their working lives. The government should promote STEM education so that we can have more innovate young adults in the workforce.

Candy Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Police issuing a lot more parking tickets

I refer to Richard Castka’s letter (“Police ignoring serious ­problem of illegal parking in Tai Po’’, June 22), which expressed concern over police action against illegal parking in Tai Po.

Tackling illegal parking is one of our policing priorities, particularly when danger or obstruction is caused. Resources are deployed to address the issue of illegal parking and frontline officers are taking appropriate enforcement actions commensurate with the local circumstances.

In fact, in Tai Po district, the number of penalty tickets issued has increased significantly in ­recent years, from a monthly average of some 4,200 tickets in 2012 to about 11,000 tickets in 2016.

Police alone cannot solve all traffic problems and so we appeal to drivers to be considerate to other road users and abide by traffic regulations.

Mr Castka also mentioned that a police vehicle was illegally parked at Nam Shing Street in Tai Po. Checks have been conducted and it was found that on June 19, a police operation was ongoing near that location at the time and this resulted in arrest action. Please be assured that police will continue to monitor the ­traffic situation in Tai Po and take appropriate action to ­enhance the safety of all road users.

Your readers are encouraged to report any road safety ­concern to Tai Po Divisional ­Police Station at 3661 1674 or call 999 in case of emergency situations. Should Mr Castka wish to share his views on traffic or ­another matter in Tai Po District, he can contact Tsang Hoi-leung, the district operation ­officer at 3661 3508.

P. Laidler, district commander, Tai Po District

Writing a timetable can help cut stress

I agree with correspondents who say that teenagers should aim for better time management in their lives.

People talk about the stress young people face from school and parents. I also think that far from relieving stress, ­playing computer games can ­actually exacerbate that threat, especially if they spend too long on computers and smartphones.

Being on computers for long periods can have negative side-effects, such as tight shoulders.

For anyone using these devices it comes down to time management.

You may have the intention of ensuring you are better organised, but you have to carry through that intention and so many of us do not.

When it comes using mobiles and computers, people need to have a timetable and stick to it.

They must write it down, be realistic about what they can do and stick to the schedule they have planned.

If they are able to do this then I ­believe if they do suffer from stress, they will find that this stress is reduced.

If using computers for entertainment is part of the timetable that can help reduce stress, because you are limiting the amount of time you are playing such things as computer games.

However, it is important to limit the time you spend on these ­devices and to recognise the importance of your own health and developing interpersonal relationships.

Mary Ko , Tseung Kwan O

Intolerance still exists in this world city

Nowadays in the city, you see many Hong Kong residents who come from other countries.

All citizens are considered equal under the law and yet I still see many locals who do not show respect for these fellow ­citizens.

I think the reason for this is that some Hongkongers adopt the blinkered attitude that this is their city and they see these ­people as occupiers who have no right to be here. Such an attitude is a clear example of racial discrimination.

Hong Kong describes itself as a world city which attracts a lot of people, so those individuals who are ­bigoted have to change their views.

More education is needed to encourage greater tolerance, with maybe some activities to show traditions from different countries. And local citizens should be encouraged to meet and talk with foreigners.

We keep talking about ­equality and ending discrimination, but we have to do more than talk.

Kam Wan Hei Kameko, Tseung Kwan O