Letters to the Editor, November 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 4:38pm

Schools must address mental health problem

More young Hongkongers are seeking treatment for mental health problems.

It was reported earlier this year that there was a sharp spike in the number of youngsters under the age of 15 seeking help.

I think one of the main causes for this increase is the stress they get from studying. This is because Hong Kong’s education system is exam-oriented, and exams like the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education are particularly stressful.

Without a good result, students will not be able to get a coveted place at a local university. Over time, they learn just to focus on these exams and, by their own ­admission, become “test machines”.

Many of them have to attend several tutorial classes to give themselves a better chance of doing well in the exams. They may even have to attend these classes during school holidays when they should be relaxing and enjoying their lives.

With such a heavy schedule, it is hardly surprising that more of them now have mental health problems.

Others develop psychological problems because they spend too much time on their computers and smartphones and ­develop an internet addiction. Social media is a great tool, but it must be used responsibly.

The government, teachers and parents need to recognise there is a growing problem. Some lessons in school should cover areas such as stress ­management and who to safeguard mental health.

Carmen Lam, Yau Yat Chuen

Get children’s views on playgrounds

Playgrounds need to challenge young minds, test their skills, their intelligence and create ­obstacles that can be overcome with thought and effort.

The playgrounds that exist in Hong Kong today do not do any of this. Outdoor activities develop sides of our personality that other types of learning cannot: sociability, team effort and patience.

Ask children to design a playground, they know what they want and need, they are the ones playing in them, after all. Never underestimate children, they often know more about what they want than we do.

At Wembley International Kindergarten, we often go to the various playgrounds as we believe outdoor activities perk up children’s brains and ­increase their eagerness to learn when we return to school.

Body and mind work together, a balanced body is a balanced mind, creating a balanced education.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten

Independence is a non-starter in Hong Kong

It seems that Hong Kong has split into two politically (“Thousands turn out to decry Hong Kong independence”, November 14).

We have a group of citizens supporting the government blindly and another section of society that is opposed to it. Some of them argue that Hong Kong should be independent.

I think when people call for this as a political goal, they need to ask if it is feasible. Instead of just talking about the principle of independence in the abstract, they need to ask if it would actually be possible.

We depend on the mainland for so many resources, for example, most of the water we use is bought from the ­mainland.

Our reservoirs do not have enough water to meet the needs of seven million citizens. There is no other source of water that we can turn to. We simply would not be able to go it alone, ­because we are so dependent on imports from north of the ­border.

I see Hong Kong as a city, not potentially a country. People who keep calling for independence should accept this reality.

Edward Wong, Hang Hau

Indifference over NPC ruling is wrong

I am disappointed that more Hong Kong citizens have not spoken out against the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruling on the controversial oath-taking in the ­Legislative Council.

The Standing Committee talked about the need for ­sincerity and solemnity when a new lawmaker takes the oath, but did not explain what it meant. How can you really tell whether or not someone is being sincere?

The ruling seemed to be designed to target the Youngspiration lawmakers and those who might use the Legco chamber to call for independence for Hong Kong. But, the bigger the crackdown on these localist groups, the louder are the voices for ­independence.

The Standing Committee should not have intervened while the issue was still the ­subject of a judicial review and awaiting a decision by a Hong Kong court.

Hongkongers should be worried about the threat to the independence of the city’s legislative and judicial ­systems. Do they not realise this is a very ­important issue in Hong Kong?

All citizens have a responsibility to care about what is ­happening in the city politically and to discuss the different issues.

Elmo Fung, Tseung Kwan O

Understanding high degree of pessimism

I think the cost of housing is the main cause for a survey which has shown that local citizens are dissatisfied with their lives (“Quality of life in Hong Kong near the lows of 2003”, November 4).

Many Hongkongers, especially young people, find it difficult to get enough money for a mortgage and some struggle to even rent a flat. People on low ­incomes find it tough to climb the social ladder, so there is only limited social mobility.

The government should be implementing policies which improve job opportunities for young people. It should also promote vocational education, so that they can learn new skills and this can increase their competitiveness.

However, in addition to setting up more of these training schemes, it also must promote them within the community so that youngsters know about them and can apply.

I think another reason why people sounded so pessimistic when replying to the survey was because they are concerned about the future of freedom of speech in Hong Kong and fear it is going to be restricted. This includes students, as some schools will not allow discussion or debate on the subject of Hong Kong’s independence.

If people fear that their freedom to express their views will be compromised, they will feel more insecure about the future.

Luckily, we can still express our opinions freely, and I hope people will still look at the positive aspects of the city.

Serena Mak Kit-ying, Kowloon Tong

Too many of us have really unhealthy diets

Too many people suffer from obesity and the bad health that comes with that because they have poor diets. This is a problem in Western nations like the US, but also in our country.

In previous generations, people ate more food that was locally produced and fresh. But now many of us have too much processed food in our diets.

Also, in Hong Kong, most of us have a frenetic pace of life. So often, because it is convenient, we will opt for fast food. However, it generally contains a lot of sugar, salt and oil and this is bad for your health if you are ­eating it frequently.

When we can, we should try to make more meals at home. It may be time-consuming, but the food we cook is generally healthier, especially if we use vegetables. We need to make healthier choices in our diets.

Vivian Chung Wan-lam, Ngau Tau Kok