Letters to the Editor, February 18, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 12:16am

Nursing rooms in all malls for a caring society

Mothers are always encouraged to breastfeed for the health of their babies, and there have been calls for greater public awareness of the issue.

I believe having nursing rooms in all of Hong Kong’s shopping malls would go a long way towards helping mothers out and about with young babies as well as developing a more caring society.

First of all, nursing rooms in shopping malls would encourage mothers to breastfeed more often.

Even if many mothers currently choose to visit malls with nursing rooms, they may need to queue for a long time as such facilities are rare, and thus be discouraged from feeding their babies outside the home.

Besides, if nursing rooms become common in shopping malls, this can raise citizens’ awareness about breastfeeding.

Many Hongkongers misunderstand the concept of breastfeeding or are hostile towards mothers doing so in public, which is a form of discrimination.

Greater awareness will thus be good for society and its future generations.

Furthermore, offering nursing room facilities can improve the image of the shopping malls concerned, as this would show care towards the community. Currently, only a few malls in Hong Kong have nursing rooms.

Cindy Wong, Po Lam

Korean experts show the way to fight deserts

The economy of China is ­growing, its population is growing; unfortunately, China’s deserts are also growing.

More than 400 million ­people in China are affected by desertification and having difficulty in finding food; some of them have even had to migrate.

I’d like to suggest a new idea: sweet potatoes.

Korea and China are neighbours and Korea is affected by Chinese environmental problems, particularly the “yellow dust” from the Gobi Desert that blows in each spring.

Korean scientist Kwak Sang-soo and his team at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology found that sweet potatoes flourish in deserts.

By growing sweet potatoes on the edges of the desert, the Chinese can fight desertification.

Sweet potatoes are nutrient-rich – high in carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins.

Also, sweet potatoes cultivated over 1,000 square meters can support 3.9 people for a year, while rice would provide for 2.4 and corn for less than one person.

Overgrazing strips grasses from the land, also a crucial cause of desertification, ­according to Kwak.

Sweet potato also has an anti-erosion element as the plants will allow grasses to thrive for herds to graze on, so people can keep their means of income and a source of protein.

Large-scale cultivation can also allow Chinese living at the edge of the desert to get energy resources, as starch crops like sweet potato are ingredients for bio-ethanol – a renewable and eco-friendly fuel.

Cultivating sweet potato will not only achieve farming self-sufficiency of the desert region, but also anti-desertification and economic development.

China is to be complimented for efforts at combating desertification by planting trees, covering 10 million hectares in the past five years. But 1.73 billion hectares are still undergoing desertification.

Trees are good, but they need to be part of a more comprehensive approach, and I believe that sweet potatoes, which thrive in this harsh environment, can be part of the solution.

Through gene manipulation in biotechnology, sweet potatoes can be adapted to fit deserts. The Korean research team has already grown genetically modified sweet potatoes in China’s Kubuchi Desert.

Park Ka-young, Seoul, Korea

Extra fees for chronically ill justified move

I refer to your article about a new private hospital aiming to charge extra for patients with long-term illnesses (“New Hong Kong private hospital touting fixed fees will charge long-term sick an extra 20 per cent,” ­February 13).

This charge, at the new private Gleneagles Hospital in Wong Chuk Hang, will be on top of fixed-rate packages for 50 common surgical procedures.

The Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki said the charges were too high and may fail to ease the burden on the public sector if patients could not afford to go private.

However, I believe it is reasonable to charge higher-risk patients an extra fee, as it means other general patients will not have to bear their cost and so can enjoy a cheaper rate.

Jennifer Li, Kwai Chung

Listening to children could avert tragedy

I refer to your report on student suicides just after the Lunar New Year (“Hong Kong schoolboy is third teenager to die within eight days”, February 12).

I was shocked at the news. Why did these young people need to kill themselves?

I think the main reason is pressure, especially over their academic results. Many schools held exams before the New Year, and students may have been worried about the results once classes resumed. Maybe they could not accept not doing well, or thought their parents would be very angry and scold them.

The problem is many Hong Kong parents pressurise their children over school work, leaving them with little time for rest. The government, schools and parents must address the ­problem of student suicides, and listen to the children, not just chastise them.

Sonny Chan Hei-lun, Fanling

Students may be unable to beat negativity

I was saddened to learn that three students jumped to their deaths days after we welcomed the Year of the Rooster.

There has been a number of such cases in recent years, and I think most are falling victim to stress related to their studies.

The pressure may come from school or from the expectation of parents. Although the government claims there is no link between the education system and the number of student suicides, I think more research is needed to ensure that young lives do not become difficult.

Also, perhaps students do not know how to manage their negative thinking, as life education lessons are lacking in school. Schools should help and make students realise how important they are to their loved ones. Parents must go easy on them too, as academic results are not everything.

Kitty Lui Sze-ki, Hang Hau

A few ways to shop smart at online stores

I am sure all Hongkongers have joined the current trend of ­shopping on the internet, at one time or another, or at least heard of websites like eBay and ­Taobao.

This is undeniably a convenient way to shop. Also, products are often sold at steep discounts, which attracts more shoppers.

But we must be aware of the risks, such as security breaches. Also, online platforms ­require customer information like name, password, email, identity card and phone numbers. When companies have access to such personal information, it is ­similar to being supervised.

Moreover, the quality of goods is not ensured, and products delivered may not match the sample, or may even be fake.

One safeguard would be to only shop on reputable sites and always check customer reviews.

Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O