Letters to the Editor, November 26, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2016, 12:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2016, 12:19am

Reconciliation call may well fall on deaf ears

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s sensible plea to the localist/separatist trouble makers to reconcile (“Revolt against Beijing is futile”, November 20) will, I’m afraid, fall on deaf ears.

They know they are too big to fail or lose and Hongkongers are largely fence-sitters or, worse still, followers of the winner, and will carry on to make matters worse and therefore more favourable for the separatist cause. This is especially so given the American endorsement, in the form of the warm reception accorded to Demosisto Party secretary general Joshua Wong Chi-fung by US congressmen/politicians.

Emigration numbers to the US, Canada and Australia have already started to climb, by at best the fence-sitters or at worst the supporters of the separatists. The 25 per cent public support that Mrs Ip thinks exists for the separatists could easily swell to 50 per cent or more when people see that such support helps their immigration applications.

The police are certainly ­preparing for worse or the worst, with the force carrying out tests for powerful new rubber bullets.

It is good to know that ­spraying tear gas is no more the preferred crowd-dispersing tool, having proved ineffective in the 79-day “Occupy Central” of 2014. The crowd was so big that one end didn’t even know tear gas was being discharged at the other end. Nor is water ­cannon likely to be lightly used, for the same reason, plus the risk of pushing people against ­concrete corners and causing ­grievous injuries, as seen in ­Taiwan.

The best way is to manhandle rioters away with unarmed policemen/women, as was done in July 2014 for the ­“Occupy Central” dress rehearsal crowd. Here we probably do not have sufficient police to do the manhandling.

Can we look to the other disciplined services for help? Or even the People’s Liberation Army garrison, which the late Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) said was stationed in Hong Kong for this purpose.

Tiananmen sentiments can be dispelled by ­issuing timely warnings.

It is the least of all evils ­compared to Beijing invoking the Basic Law to directly exercise control in Hong Kong, and ­compared to going back to the pre-1997 direct appointment of the Hong Kong chief executive and legislative councillors.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Safety must be first priority for playgrounds

In her letter (“Playgrounds not exciting enough”, November 18) Jenny Sit urged the government not to overprotect children, saying the design of playgrounds should be exciting enough to entertain and also teach life skills.

However, I doubt whether excitement should take priority over safety and whether playgrounds are really not exciting enough.

Safety should always be the first priority. Playground design should be based on the needs and concerns of all, including the disabled.

If more exciting facilities were to be added, the potential risk of injury would increase and the facilities might no longer be suitable for the disabled. Children might also be hurt if they fell from a high slide.

Designing a longer slide actually requires an accurate calculation of how much weight is needed so the child is not thrown out due to the centrifugal force. A longer slide sounds attractive but could turn out to be very dangerous for children who are slight. Providing a safe environment for children to play is what a responsible government should do.

Also, nearly all playgrounds in Hong Kong are designed for children under 12. It is not hard to understand that the facilities may not suit older children and they may not find them exciting. For the sake of teenagers, the government could build more playgrounds for 12- to 18-year-olds.

Nakita Tsui, Sha Tin

Family support could prevent teen suicides

I refer to your editorial (“All must address ­student suicides”, ­November 18).

I agree that the education system is not the only party to be blamed for student suicides, and other stakeholders must also bear responsibility for this.

An increasing number of ­students are attempting suicide under adversity. Many people just think this is because of the harsh education system. ­However, I agree that it may be too simplistic to solely blame the education system. Lack of family support is also a major factor.

Students may be struggling under the pressure of studies and this may cause a change in their personalities. If family members can spot these changes, they can sit down and talk with the children, who can then tell their parents about their feelings and seek advice.

If parents realise that their child is thinking of self harm, they can educate, support and encourage them to find a way out of their problems. Parents can comfort their children as well. However, if parents still push the students hard and force them to act or work in ­preset ways, or scold them if their academic result is not up to their expectations, this will only drive their children into a dead end.

Not all students are equal in their ability to handle pressure. Some remain happy and optimistic despite the harsh education system while some turn pessimistic and negative. The latter are usually introverts and are not willing to talk about their feelings. They may choose to self-harm if they believe they have no way out. Hence, students should be helped in developing positive thinking.

Students and parents have to learn not to focus only on academic results, but also on non-academic aspects like sports and arts, and moral and ­emotional development.

Jocelyn Chan, Tsuen Wan

Writing was on the wall for Page One chain

I refer to the article on the ­closure of Page One (“Sad chapter as bookstore chain shuts ­outlets”, November 18).

I am sorry about the demise of Page One, but I agree that the closure of its two remaining stores, in Festival Walk and ­Harbour City, was no surprise.

Page One tried really hard to offer a huge variety of books and magazines, but these did not seem to match the tastes of the majority of Hongkongers. Their books were mainly non-fiction in different categories and their target readers were professionals, university students and ­people with very specific interests. Even though a mix of books, food and other products brought freshness to the bookstore, they were too pricey to be favoured by most people.

Cheaper online book sales also took their toll. The emergence of websites like Book ­Depository has allowed readers to buy books online very easily. Sites like Amazon also sell second-hand books, many only costing a few US dollars.

The demise of Page One, while sad, is a reminder to bookstore chains to target the genuine interests of the majority and adopt more creative business strategies in order to survive the tough business conditions.

Gloria Tse, Tsing Yi

Urban benefits multiply below ground level

I am writing in response to your editorial on underground spaces (“It’s time for Hong Kong to go underground,” November 21).

Hong Kong is such a spectacular city but it still faces problems related to the lack of land and a large population. I believe the use of underground spaces can alleviate this problem.

Take the MTR – it reduces the need for land for roads and helps ease traffic jams. Besides, the air quality may improve markedly if more people choose to take the MTR instead of road transport, such as private cars.

Underground spaces can make urban living more convenient. Apart from underground railways, such spaces could be used to build shopping malls as well. Hong Kong should take the Japanese-style underground spaces as an example.

Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Hang Hau