Letters to the Editor, August 7, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 12:18am

Fixed hours will help staff and economy

There has been a heated debate about whether it is necessary to have a standard working hours law in Hong Kong.

Regarding social mobility, having a limit on working hours would provide more job opportunities for Hongkongers.

With staff in a company not having to work such long hours, employers would have to take on more people so that the workload was shared and this would lead to extra staff being hired.

More people in work paying taxes would increase the ­government’s reserves and it could expand its infrastructure and public house-building projects.

I think this legislation would also improve the innovation and technology sector.

People in this sector are ­creative and expected to come up with innovative ideas.

Their contribution to the Hong Kong economy can be very important. They can only perform at their best if they are not overworked and are able to get sufficient rest.

This is an important sector and Hong Kong faces stiff competition from Shanghai, Korea and Singapore.

The SAR is often seen as a fast-paced city, which is indifferent to the welfare of workers. A standard working hours law would show that firms recognise they have a responsibility to staff.

This might persuade more companies from abroad, especially prestigious ones such as Microsoft and Google, to open offices here and this would make us more competitive in the ­global market.

Standard working hours ­legislation would be important in the development of Hong Kong and would be good news for citizens.

Some people predict a gloomy future for the city, but I think that with a standard ­working hours law in place it can enjoy even greater success.

Agnes Ng, Tseung Kwan O

Empty schools can be used to teach English

About two years ago I wrote to these columns about the poor standard of English of my ­driver’s daughter, who was ­leaving a band three school after six years of English instruction. She could scarcely speak a word and so could not get a job.

I engaged a teacher to give her instruction once a week for a year. She then went to the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education and is now on her way to employment. To cut a long story short, with the help of some generous friends, some enthusiastic school principals of a few band three schools, and some retired ­teachers of English, we started classes.

We have just held the ­graduation class of 100 band three ­pupils who now feel ­confident enough to use their spoken ­English to find employment.

The point is this: we have empty, redundant schools, and we have hundreds of retired ­teachers, some of whom would be willing to do part-time ­teaching for a little pin money.

We know it can be done: the need is there and this could be done across the board.

David Akers-Jones, Tsim Sha Tsui

SE Asia must avoid mistakes of Middle East

The once-thriving civilisations in the Middle East, such as Mesopotamia, have all but disappeared.

Many of the historical relics from these civilisations have been destroyed as a result of conflict in this war-ravaged ­region.

It will be a long time ­before we see restoration work at some of these important sites.

The region has been blessed with enormous supplies of oil. However, maybe that has actually been its greatest curse. Powers from near and far look with envy at this rich resource beneath the sand and sea. The clamour for oil makes it relevant to world geopolitics. Many governments have risen and fallen, miring the region in sectarian conflicts.

If only all the countries in the region could put aside their differences and recognise that the Middle East can only emulate its past glories if there is peace.

No resource is infinite. While the oil still gushes from their wells, these countries should use this scarce resource as means to a better end, and they should do so collectively.

A disunited ­Middle East will only play to external parties’ interests. No country should be a pawn on someone’s chessboard. It is senseless that while it feeds the world with oil, its other chief ­exports are refugees escaping their war-ravaged homelands.

Perhaps, we all could draw lessons from the Middle East.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has been a successful regional bloc until recently. The South China Sea is believed to be rich in natural gas and oil. The clamour for these resources will surely come, under whatever pretexts. Countries must be wary of falling into the same trap of looking after their own interests for short-term gains.

The Asean economic ­community has barely taken off. Only with economic prosperity will the region thrive. History is also on its side. Asia is rising. Asean, together with the rest of Asia, makes up half the world’s population. This represents a relatively untapped market for goods and services.

Leaders must be circumspect in facing disputes among countries.

Mistrust breeds misunderstanding. A better understanding can be reached through ­dialogue and exchange.

Only through a show of unity can Southeast Asia avoid experiencing what has happened in the Middle East. We can share a collective destiny.

Lee Teck Chuan, Singapore

There is too much focus on exam results

There have been calls for the ­local school system to be ­reformed so that students are ­released from their educational straitjackets.

Correspondents have ­appealed for youngsters to be given the chance to pursue their own interests instead of ­teachers just focusing on ­passing exams.

People have different strengths and weaknesses and not all students are good at academic studies. It is unfair if all students are judged only by their academic results. Many may be good at things such as sports, the arts or music.

Teenagers who do not ­respond to rote learning, do not do well in exams and cannot get a place at university should not feel useless. A school should be a place where they are invited to consider other options and ­prepare for jobs which will be suited to their abilities.

More clubs and other activities should be set up in schools to encourage young people to have interests other than academic studies.

Emily Yeung, Sham Shui Po

Pokemon helps you meet new friends

I refer to Hillary Chan’s letter (“Making friends thanks to ­Pokemon Go”, August 3).

I agree with your correspondent that people can make friends when they are playing Pokemon Go. And while it does give them an opportunity to be more sociable, it also enables them to explore different locations.

All players will be familiar with Pokemon and its main characters, Ash Ketchum and his partner Pikachu.

Pokemon Go is an innovative game and the great thing is that people can play it outside, unlike so many computer games where you are stuck at home.

You need to go out because you are using GPS in order to catch Pokemon. And you can make new friends who share the same interests.

It is also fun to do it when you just need to relax.

Dicky Pun, Sau Mau Ping