Letters to the Editor, November 30, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 4:31pm

Mixed feelings about foreign student influx

The Audit Commission has urged the city’s universities to take an international approach and attract more foreign ­students. I think there may be advantages and disadvantages connected to such a proposal.

The city can benefit from an influx of talented students from abroad. They will bring their own unique ideas and culture, and this can enrich the learning experience for local students. Some will stay on after graduation, join companies here and can help make Hong Kong more competitive.

Too often local students focus on results. Many of these undergraduates will come from countries where schools teach pupils about the importance of learning rather than just trying to do well in exams. This more open and relaxed style of ­studying can benefit local ­students.

On the downside, if publicly funded universities increase the quota for foreign students, there will be fewer places for young Hongkongers and it is already difficult to get into undergraduate programmes here.

Also, if many of the foreign students stay on after getting their ­degrees and join the workforce, they will be competing with young local graduates for jobs and the limited number of ­affordable flats for rent.

As the auditor pointed out, most non-local students are from the mainland and so I am not sure many young people from abroad will want to come here. If the government wants to propose increasing the quota of students from abroad, it must first think about the needs of ­local youngsters.

Angel Wan Yuet-sum, Kwai Chung

Struggle to find historic food culture in city

The government wants to set up a street food bazaar over Lunar New Year and had initially ­proposed a location in Mong Kok.

I am glad to see officials ­trying to promote these hawkers, as street food is part of the collective memory of Hong Kong and is an important part of our ­culture. The food that these hawkers sell, such as fishballs, is a unique part of this city.

However, these hawkers and their stalls are now a rare sight in our urban areas. People seldom have a chance to experience this kind of cuisine, though it was common in the past. I think this is a pity ­because it is definitely worth preserving.

However, I am not sure if the government’s proposal for a temporary bazaar will do that much to promote street food. It has proposed quite a high rent, whereas most hawkers are on low ­incomes and will only have a limited budget. You might only find larger restaurant chains ­setting up temporary stalls.

Also, a temporary bazaar does not solve the problem of those people who want to be given long-term hawker ­licences so they can run their own business and earn a decent living.

I suppose even having a temporary, tightly controlled food bazaar, if it gets the go-ahead, is better than nothing, but I am not sure it really represents the busy street food ­culture that has been such an integral part of Hong Kong’s ­history.

Priscilla Ko Ka-ying, Tseung Kwan O

No need for gym to have TVs installed

I have been using the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s gyms on Lantau and Cheung Chau for more than 20 years. They probably offer the best bargain to be had in Hong Kong.

Recently, the Cheung Chau gym installed two televisions in the workout area and I would like to know why this was done. Now when I go to the gym some guys sit on the equipment with their mouths hanging open, transfixed on the screen and not exercising.

If we have so much money to waste, why not instal a new StairMaster, some fans or even a water fountain on the first floor. The idea of having a fitness ­centre is to stay fit, not watch TV.

David S. Camacho, Cheung Chau

Think carefully before trying tough trails

The death of a man on a trail on Sharp Peak, in Sai Kung, should make us reflect on our attitude towards hiking (“Hiker collapses and dies while tackling ‘treacherous’ peak”, November 28).

More people are now exploring our country parks, attracted by the gorgeous views. Also, when they finish a tough walk it gives them a sense of achievement.

However, individuals might overlook the potential risks on difficult routes. On its website, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department ­describes the trail as “undoubtedly strenuous”. There are signs along the way warning hikers not to proceed to Sharp Peak. Some hikers ignore the signs. If they choose to do so, they must be prepared to face the ­consequences of their actions.

The government also has to make better use of the internet, because most people go online to learn about different hiking trails. It needs to provide more warnings online and on-site at any trails where it perceives there is a risk.

There have been calls for the Sharp Peak trail to be paved, but this can destroy a trail. I did a walk on Lamma which is ­entirely paved and didn’t feel I was on a real hike. I could not see the need to do this, covering a natural earth track with ­concrete.

People need to choose walks based on their level of fitness and experience. If we all take more care, there will be fewer ­accidents in our country parks.

Cherry Law, Kwai Chung

Help teens deal with computer game addiction

Computer game companies are constantly improving their products, to make them even more attractive and exciting.

Thanks to advances in new technology, particularly with smartphones, people can play these games virtually anywhere.

Unfortunately, some youngsters get hooked and even start playing the games in classes in school. Even at home they are often so preoccupied that ­during their spare time they stay in their room playing games.

This is unhealthy, as they get no exercise, and also relationships with friends and family can suffer.

Parents need to act if they see their children becoming addicted to games. They need to talk to them and organise family-oriented and healthy activities, such as hiking and barbecues.

Schools must also assist ­students who have a problem. Teachers should look for signs of addiction and try to help, even bringing in a school counsellor if need be.

More talks should be organised so that teenagers are made aware of the potential risks.

Wong Cheuk-ling, Kowloon Tong

Youths lack awareness of alcohol risks

It is fairly easy for teenagers to get hold of alcohol. They can buy it from stores or on the internet.

The problem of teen ­drinking is getting worse and ­research shows that children ­admitting to drinking are getting younger. I think this is due to a lack of awareness. They do not realise the risks posed to their mental and physical development by alcohol. People call for a law to stop sales of alcohol to youngsters, but this would not solve the problem.

Given that lack of awareness is severe, the key to dealing effectively with this problem is ­education. A campaign must be launched and should even ­target younger children so that they are full aware of the risks posed by alcohol. Hopefully this will stop them drinking when they are young and prevent them developing problems as they grow older.

Michelle Leong, Yau Yat Chuen