Letters to the Editor, February 9, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 5:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 5:47pm

Liberal studies helps develop critical thought

Pro-establishment politicians have voiced uneasiness over topics covered in liberal studies.

They are concerned about the discussion of subjects such as the “Umbrella Movement”, the June 4 massacre and universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

Some of them fear that some teachers may be sharing radical ideas with students and this would exacerbate the political turmoil in Hong Kong.

There have even been calls for liberal studies to be replaced by Chinese history as a core ­subject in the secondary school curriculum.

I think this kind of criticism shows ignorance of liberal ­studies. It is not being used as a propaganda tool by teachers. ­Instead, it offers our students a genuine opportunity to improve their ­critical thinking.

This means that any efforts by teachers at brainwashing are unlikely to succeed, because students are constantly being encouraged to think independently. When writing a paper, they must look at an argument from both or different angles rather than take a one-sided, biased approach. In the exam, if they support one side, they must also outline the opposing argument. So, given our extreme exam-oriented culture, there is no way a teacher with an extremist agenda could impose those views on students.

It is impossible in a free ­society like Hong Kong for our students not to touch on controversial issues in liberal studies, but different views will always be looked at.

If pro-establishment politicians want to figure out why young students are so dissatisfied with the government, rather than looking at liberal studies, they should be looking at the policies of the government.

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun is one of those pro-establishment lawmakers who have been critical of liberal studies.

I would invite these legislators to sit the Diploma of Secondary Education liberal studies exam and I am sure that will allay their concerns.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town

Heed feelings of students on TSA revamp

The education secretary wants all primary schools in Hong Kong to take part in the new competency assessment which replaces the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA).

The TSA test caused a great deal of controversy because it put students under a lot of pressure. That was why so many parents and teachers wanted to see it cancelled.

The Education Bureau was requested by the public to scrap the TSA, and a review by a government committee recommended a less demanding version. The test was scrapped at the primary level, but the new competency assessment means that for primary school pupils, the pressure is still there.

The bureau has pledged not to use the test results to rate the performance of schools. However, many parents are still concerned that some schools may not believe this and will continue to drill students for the new competency assessment.

Parents have high expectations of their children, so the pressure for students is expected to remain. The government should accept that these young people are future pillars of ­society. They need to be nurtured and their feelings should be taken into account when it comes to policy changes.

Oriana Li, Yau Yat Chuen

Priority seats not just for senior citizens

I understand why we have ­priority seats on various forms of public transport, such as buses and the MTR. They are meant to raise passengers’ awareness of the importance of giving up their seats to people in need. However, I ­wonder if they are fulfilling their aim?

There is a misunderstanding about the seats. For example, a young person might feel really unwell. It could be a young woman suffering period cramps or someone feeling nauseous. They sit down on a vacant priority seat and are criticised because they are not a senior citizen.

I would say the seats are for passengers who need them, irrespective of their age.

They are not just earmarked for pensioners.

I would suggest that the MTR Corporation carry out a new awareness campaign to educate people about the priority seats, so as to avoid any misunderstanding between passengers or unnecessary conflicts.

Simon Chung, Kwun Tong

Glass recycling faces flaws ­­­in the system

I refer to the letter from Anthony Green about recycling habits (“Glass recycling bin at complex never emptied”, February 4).

I am glad there is greater public awareness about the ­importance of glass recycling. However, as your correspondent pointed out, there are structural problems with the whole glass recycling system.

The management of the residential complex where I live has not been able to offer glass recycling bins, as it cannot find a contractor to collect the bottles.

What I find more worrying, and I have seen this, is cleaners putting the separated recyclable ­material from the different ­designated bins into one big black bag.

It appears there is little ­incentive for managers of estates in Hong Kong to help ­residents reduce the volumes of waste that are sent to landfills.

Cosmo Lo, Cheung Sha Wan

Backing march against denier of massacre

On Sunday, scores of Chinese marched in Tokyo to protest against the books the president of the APA Hotel Group in Japan has written denying that the ­Nanking Massacre ever happened. The books had been placed in rooms at the group’s hotels.

These protesters in Tokyo got a frosty reception from some right-wing Japanese who insulted them and said they should go back to China.

The protesters were not provoked and acted in a peaceful manner, and they emphasised the importance of the continuing friendship between Japan and China.

My brother is studying in Japan and one of his friends joined this demonstration. His friend admitted he was afraid to do this, because he wanted to continue his studies in Japan. However, he felt that if a march like that made some Japanese accept what really happened in Nanjing (南京), then it would have been worth the ­effort.

Seeing news reports about this demonstration made me proud of my homeland, China.

These people marched despite the intimidation.

I know we in Hong Kong have had our differences with Beijing, and sometimes with mainlanders visiting here and not behaving properly.

But I have become more aware of the importance of ­Chinese history.

It made me proud to see these young Chinese demonstrating peacefully in ­order to make an important point and I, too, voiced my support via the internet.

Kris Lam Ka-wai, Kowloon Tong

Traditional, local stores need support

I think the Hong Kong government should bring in measures to ­preserve traditional, local businesses.

In this tough economic climate, many of them, including Chinese herbal stores, bakers and shops serving local desserts, are struggling to survive.

It is important that the traditions and skills involved in their craft are preserved and passed down to future generations.

They are one of the features of Hong Kong that make it unique and are popular with tourists who want to experience traditional local culture. So, if the government introduces measures to keep them going, it will boost the tourist sector.

They are also important to Hongkongers, as they are part of our collective memory.

Many of these stores have a lot of history, they have been ­plying their trade for generations and can be an integral part of a neighbourhood.

It is very important that they are allowed to stay open so ­tourists and locals alike can enjoy them.

Mandy Yu, Tseung Kwan O