Letters to the Editor, January 9, 2017

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 4:50pm

We must try to grasp problem in local schools

I refer to the report, “After 71 ­student suicides since 2013, education chief told Hong Kong schools are like a ‘prison’” ­(January 7).

I agree that these suicides might not be directly linked to the education system, but the Education Bureau, like all stakeholders, must do what it can to minimise the number of student suicides. As I do not have children, I may not be able to really appreciate the pressure they are under even in primary school. But it is important not to exaggerate this pressure.

Secretary for Education ­Eddie Ng Hak-kim said in a specially-convened Legislative Council meeting that he will investigate the homework of primary school students. I am not sure how much he can do as he may no longer be education secretary when the new chief executive takes over on July 1.

The Education Bureau and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority should do their part to try and lower the student suicide rate.

I agree with those who are against the resumption of the Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment. If it is scrapped for good, schools will stop drilling students and so they will be not be given pointless homework assignments.

Also, the curriculum of the Hong Kong ­Diploma of ­Secondary ­Education should be reformed.

In secondary school, students have four compulsory and three elective subjects.

They also have “Other Learning Experience”, so they have to put in a lot of hours during and after school.

They also feel stress as they attempt to plan their careers. Because of the nature of the curriculum, children as young as 15 have to think about their careers. They may not be mature enough to do this.

The government must do what it can to minimise the number of student suicides.

I hope the next chief executive and education minister will listen to the voices of Hong Kong’s young people.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Same-sex union law is long overdue

Many countries have made same-sex marriage legal, but that has still to be done in Hong Kong.

Most open-minded people back same-sex marriage, believing everyone has a right to get married whatever their ­sexual preferences may be. Some countries, rather than calling them marriages, call them same-sex unions, which can satisfy those who dislike ­the idea of referring to them as ­marriages.

It would be unfair to people who are gay not to bring in this law.

Gay people still face discrimination. I think there will be less discrimination if same-sex ­marriage is made legal in Hong Kong.

I also hope that if it is legal, then some same-sex couples will be allowed to adopt children. It is important that we should try to end the discrimination that some gay people still experience in Hong Kong.

Mercury Wong Cheuk-in, Yau Yat Chuen

Christians do not speak for all citizens

Eunice Li in her letter (“Same-sex marriage is against ­traditional teaching on ­families”, January 7) refers to just one authority in her letter on same-sex marriage: the Bible.

While I support the right of minorities to have and act on opinions that they hold dear, it is not at all clear why a minority in Hong Kong amounting to 10 per cent of the population (Christians) should be allowed to dictate the rights available to ­another minority of between ­7-10 per cent (gay men and women).

If her logic is reversed, gays should be allowed to insist gay Christians can only take same-sex partners, a clear infringement of a gay Christian’s right to choose a heterosexual relationship.

For the average Hong Kong person, the Bible has zero authority on anything.

Though we all accept that most Christians, their churches and their educational and ­medical work have historically and do today contribute greatly to Hong Kong society, still ours is a Chinese, not a Christian ­society.

And respect for decent Christians is no reason to allow those who believe in the literal truth of the creation of Adam and Eve by God to dictate our laws.

Many worship in Tin Hau temples, but do they insist on their rules binding the rest of us?

No. So let it be with the Bible.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Fireworks are causing a lot of air pollution

I refer to the letter by Holden Cheng (“Everyone can pitch in to fight air pollution”, January 5).

I would like to mention the daily fireworks of the Disney Resort and the annual fireworks at New Year and on other ­occasions, which all create ­serious air pollution.

Why will the government not stop this kind of pollution?

Rather than thinking about the amusement of the population, it should be acting as a ­responsible government rather than creating more air pollution, which the city’s younger generation will eventually have to deal with.

It is a fallacy to think that air pollutants caused by such events will just disappear, as this does not happen.

Just look at the serious air pollution problem some parts of mainland China have been experiencing.

The Hong Kong government should be shamed for not ­pitching in to help tackle this problem.

It seems to be in a time warp from the last century, where its priority is to amuse the populace with these fireworks spectacles, instead of admitting that these fireworks create pollution that are harmful to people’s health.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay

Rents so high for people in subdivided flat

It saddens me that some people still have to endure the cramped accommodation offered by ­subdivided apartments. And in spite of the unpleasant conditions, they still have to pay a comparatively high rent.

However, they have to pay up as they cannot afford to move and so have no means of escape, especially as the waiting list for public housing is long.

Some people are so poor they cannot even afford a subdivided unit.

The government needs to come up with new policies to solve this problem.

It must find ways to build more public apartments and cut waiting times for them. And it should control rents in subdivided flats.

I hope that some day all ­citizens in Hong Kong will be able to enjoy decent housing.

Michelle Wong, Kowloon Tong

Many Western democracies deeply flawed

Alan Sargent claims that in a democracy “any government is run for the benefit of those who choose it” (“Democracy still matters in Hong Kong”, January 5).

Unfortunately, this may no longer be true. In Western ­democracies, despair is growing about the popularity of unscrupulous demagogues who, on a wave of discontent, manage to sell “the people” unconstitutional, vindictive and unwise short-term measures as “solutions” for long-term and ­complicated problems. Narrow-minded nationalism infuses this ­dangerous trend. As a result, ­democracy is becoming a ­marker of fault lines rather than a ­mechanism to heal rifts.

Your correspondent also asserts that “We have boundless talent, but it has been actively excluded from having any power.”

It is tempting to assume that the people who are ­obstructed from governing ­possess the excellence to tackle the deep-rooted and long-standing issues dogging Hong Kong.

However, any Hong Kong government, chosen or not, will be severely constrained by the deep divisions in society as well as the geopolitical givens.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels