Letters to the Editor, December 12, 2016
Candidates’ views on housing crucial
I agree with Tammy Tam’s column (“Whoever leads Hong Kong next will find housing thorniest issue”, December 11). Housing will remain the most difficult problem in the city for the next chief executive.
How candidates are willing to deal with it should be one of the main criteria considered by members of the Election Committee, who will vote for the chief executive next year.
Our housing problem has not been resolved. As Tam points out, even more “capsule” apartments are now up for sale at high prices.
The aim of most citizens is to buy their own flat after they graduate and start work. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve that goal. Most of them simply cannot earn enough to get a mortgage.
The government’s housing policies have been ineffective, for example, its cooling measures and the waiting lists for public housing flats are still long. The next chief executive will have to come up with more effective measures.
Citizens will judge the next chief executive on how they address this problem. Election Committee members must consider which candidate can do the best job to improve our housing problems.
I think this is more important than the views the candidates will have on their relations with the central government.
Kay Ng Wing-ki, Kwai Chung
Consumers can help to curb the poachers
I recently read a report about the slow birth rate among African forest elephants, which puts them under even greater pressure from poaching.
A recent study estimated that the population of forest elephants in central Africa declined by 65 per cent between 2002 and 2013. It is difficult to see those numbers recovering if present levels of poaching continue.
Individuals can do their bit by refusing to purchase any products made of ivory. It has to start with consumers who create a demand for these products. Also, governments in Africa must do more to crack down on the poachers.
However, even if these things happen, I think it will take decades for elephant numbers to recover. There still appears to be a lot of ignorance about the threat they face. Until there is greater awareness, the poaching will continue.
Tai Wai-chun, Tseung Kwan O
Bureau should allay concerns about TSA
When the Education Bureau introduced the Territory-wide Systems Assessment (TSA) years ago, its original aim was to provide schools with feedback on their students’ performance in the three core subjects.
This would enable schools to adjust their teaching accordingly to help pupils reach the basic competency expected of them in different key learning stages.
Yet, most schools see students’ TSA results as another performance indicator laid down by the bureau to measure the effectiveness of their pedagogy. Understandably, lower-banding schools fear that unsatisfactory TSA results would lead to the bureau cutting off funding.
Other schools are afraid that poor TSA results would lead to their closure, hence the pressure to boost TSA figures through drilling.
I don’t know if these claims are true, but I hope the bureau does not exert pressure on schools by using TSA results.
TSA papers are not as difficult as many have claimed, so students do not really need to cram for them. The suitability, validity and reliability of the papers is reviewed annually by a team of experts comprising teachers and other educators.
To my knowledge, the setting and vetting of the papers has to go through a very stringent process closely monitored by Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). Any attempt to design a paper that defies the purpose of measuring basic competence will be a slap in the HKEAA’s face, so the exam body has no reason to do that.
The assessment per se is not the problem, nor is the way the results are reported. In fact, TSA results have no bearing on individual students’ future, so parents’ minds can be put at ease.
At the heart of the issue is that schools feel the ongoing need to stay at the top of their game in the TSA by repetitive drilling to please the bureau. It must reassure schools that TSA results will not be used as leverage against them or else the drilling will continue.This well-meaning assessment tool will also be seen as a monstrous animal that needs to be put down immediately.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai
CIA claims bad for Trump and the nation
I have doubts about the claims by the CIA about Russia’s involvement in the US presidential election (“Republicans in awkward spot after CIA claims Russian hackers tried to help elect Trump”, December 10).
Even if it turns out to be true, I am concerned about the possible negative aspects in the US.
There are many citizens who are already concerned about what the future holds under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Although there is no suggestion he had anything to do with what happened, people will use the CIA’s claims to further try and undermine his credibility.
If the story continues into his presidency, he could find it more difficult to implement his policies.
There were a lot of protests after he was elected in America and we could now see more protests with these latest revelations. If these demonstrations are frequent, with large crowds, then the police will have to be deployed.
This could lead to more social unrest and I do not think that is good for the American people or the country’s economy.
Anka Wong, Kowloon Tong
India’s anthem rule not aiding patriotism
I cannot see the ruling by India’s Supreme Court that the country’s national anthem should be played before every film in cinemas as viable in the long term.
At first audiences might comply, but after a few trips to the cinema, many will find this practice annoying. Eventually some of them might refuse to stand up.
I do not think the ruling will make them feel any more loyal to their country. Some might even stay outside the cinema and wait until the anthem has been played before going in to watch the film.
Jessie Leung Cheuk-yau, Yau Yat Chuen
Fight against pollution still inadequate
For years China has placed economic development ahead of environmental protection, which has resulted in serious levels of pollution (“China tops the world for air pollution and carbon emissions, officials admit”, December 6).
It will need HK$1.97 trillion to meet its pollution reduction targets next year. Citizens have to pay more attention to this problem.
I appreciate that the central government has adopted measures, such as imposing restrictions on industries to try and improve water quality, and it has tried to control emissions.
It is also a signatory to the Paris climate agreement and this is a good start.
However, it could do more, such as putting more resources into researching the development of cleaner power.
Having a cleaner environment is an integral part of sustainable development. Severe pollution hurts people’s standard of living, so it is very important for the government to strike the right balance between economic development and environmental protection.
Wan Tsz-shan, Kwai Chung