Letters to the Editor, January 20, 2017
Young people have to follow their dreams
I watched Michelle Obama’s final speech as first lady.
In it, she encouraged young people to try to be what they want to be and to be determined to achieve their goals.
I believe this is good advice that should be followed by students in Hong Kong. However, I think many local youngsters lack a sense of direction and do not know what they want to be.
All they focus on is studying and this is why they often end up feeling stressed.
They do not put any passion into what they are doing. They are afraid to chase their dreams and instead choose the safest path, which often means applying for a university place.
I believe they should set their sights on what it is they really want to do, think hard about their future goals and recognise the effort that will be needed to achieve them.
Certainly, they must not take everything they have for granted. They should treasure all the things they enjoy, such as freedom.
Look at Michelle Obama, for example. She was not born into a wealthy family and had to work hard to get to where she is now. She is living proof that so much is possible if you make the effort.
Students must not lose hope, but set out their goals in society and try hard to reach them.
So many youngsters lose hope, which explains the high suicide rate in Hong Kong. They lack a sense of belonging. Teenagers need to be determined and believe in themselves if they want to enjoy success.
Tutti Sung, Tseung Kwan O
Help students take positive approach
I refer to the letter by Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh (“We must try to grasp problem in local schools”, January 10).
I think most students in Hong Kong feel stressed about their studies and their academic performance.
The education system in the city presents a sharp contrast to the enlightened way schools are run in countries like Finland. Here, students have to put in long hours, even after the school day ends. They have a lot of homework and many also join extracurricular activities.
They often join these activities reluctantly, under pressure from parents.
Whether you are a youngster or an adult, you cannot work for long hours like a machine. Young people need to be given enough time to rest. So many children in Hong Kong are so busy they cannot even spare the time to play in a park.
The Education Bureau should take action to the reduce stress levels endured by students. It should implement programmes which enable youngsters to learn about positive psychology. This can help them cope with the pressure they feel.
Ivy Fok Kei-ping, Sheung Shui
Education not just about good exam results
The emphasis in local schools is on achieving good academic results and getting an undergraduate place at a university.
This means that other aspects of education are neglected, such as helping youngsters develop the skills needed to function successfully in society. They are not learning these important life skills.
In addition, because of the curriculum in our primary and secondary schools, students are not getting enough physical exercise. Most schools may have only one or two PE lessons a week. That is certainly not enough for a secondary school student. There must be more physical training classes.
Local schools need a more diverse curriculum that focuses on the overall development of young people.
Simon Chung, Kwun Tong
Citywide glass recycling is needed in HK
The article by Rachel Blundy (“Touch of glass from a woman who cares”, January 14) described the tireless recycling efforts of the NGO Green Glass Green.
The NGO is trying to clean up the city with its weekly glass collection project in Wan Chai and is led by its founder, April Lai.
Hong Kong produces about 275 tonnes of glass bottles every day, but Green Glass Green reckons only about 10 per cent of this is recycled. I believe this is one of the reasons that our landfills are nearing capacity. And it is a pity, because glass is a material that can be repeatedly recycled and has multiple uses.
The government should be helping to set up more organisations like Green Glass Green, so that there is a citywide extensive, effective and efficient glass recycling programme.
Lai is a doing a great job, but one NGO cannot be expected to recycle all the glass bottles that are discarded every day in Hong Kong.
The government must launch campaigns and produce adverts to raise people’s awareness about the importance of recycling glass.
More glass recycling bins must be put in place and people should be taught to use them regularly. In this way, we can reduce the pressure on our landfills.
We all have a responsibility to protect the environment in our city, and it does not take a lot of effort by individuals to make sure their glass bottles do not end up in landfills.
Ruby Ho Sum-yu, Kwai Chung
Clarifying founders of literary festival
My attention was drawn to the review of Juan José Morales and Peter Gordon’s book The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation (“How China played a part in the birth of globalisation in the 16th century”, January 12).
Gordon is described as “Hong Kong International Literary Festival founder”. He did not found the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.
The festival was conceived by me in 2000 as the first-ever international literary festival to focus on writing from and about Asia. The need for it seemed to me to be acute while writing a thesis for my MFA on literary fiction from Asia.
Very little was available to me at that time from non-Anglo speakers whose perspective was that of the outsider.
Throughout that year, until the first festival in 2001, I worked to create a viable event with my Far Eastern Economic Review colleague, Nury Vittachi, together with support from Professor Shirley Geok-lin Lim from the University of Hong Kong.
I successfully approached a number of foreign embassies for their support and secured the festival’s first name sponsor, Standard Chartered Bank, where my then partner worked.
Vittachi invited Gordon to join our small organising team as a business consultant to assist us to get the organisation registered.
Gordon arranged for his wife’s bookselling premises to be the festival’s registered office address, although I effectively ran the first festival from Lantau, organising the programming and author participants.
Jane Camens, founder, Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Inc
Use advanced technology to tackle pollution
The central government must deal promptly with the country’s severe environmental problems, including the smog in northern China.
In the past, it was slow to act because of its “treatment after pollution” policy. China was then still an underdeveloped country and economic advances were more important than protecting nature.
Some people might argue that eliminating smog and other forms of pollution is not a realistic goal, but other countries have acted successfully in these areas.
For example, after the Great Smog of 1952 when serious air pollution in London led to thousands of deaths, a clean air act was brought into force.
China can make use of the advanced technology that is now available to tackle its pollution problems.
Environmental protection must now be seen as a priority.
Caroline Wong-tin, Kwai Chung