Letters to the Editor, August 2, 2017
Self-financing degree subsidy will be big help
The Hong Kong government is often accused of turning a blind eye to students’ grievances. And when policies are introduced, they often come under fire.
This is what happened with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s proposal for an annual HK$30,000 subsidy for students doing degrees at self-financing colleges.
Critics say it is useless as the sum is a tiny proportion of the cost of doing such a degree. However, supporters say it can help youngsters who have not got good enough Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam results to get a university place.
I support this policy [which was passed last month by the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee].
It can reduce the financial burden faced by students doing these degrees and their parents. Also, it can help reduce stress levels in secondary schools. There is so much pressure to do well in the DSE exam. Now, even if youngsters fail to meet their own and their parents’ expectations, they know they can do a self-financing degree and get the subsidy.
There are simply not enough degree places at government-subsidised local universities so self-financing institutions play an important role. They help young people to continue their studies and learn the skills needed to pursue a career.
Finally, this policy can help achieve social harmony. Hong Kong society is deeply polarised and citizens, especially teenagers, distrust the government.
Hopefully, it can restore youngsters’ trust in the new chief executive. It is proof she is delivering the pledges she made during her election campaign.
Oleta Chan, Fo Tan
Forced out of HK thanks to ESF fees hike
I refer to the report, “Fee rises of up to 27.5pc approved for ESF schools” (July 28).
Next year will mark 20 mostly wonderful years since I moved to Hong Kong (and 32 years for my wife, an English Schools Foundation alumni). My professional career started in Hong Kong and I attribute a significant amount of my success to simply being in this dynamic city and region.
That being said, now having three young children (the eldest having started in the ESF system two increases and two years ago, after a failed attempt at the local system), we are now working on moving our family to Europe.
Housing and the general costs of living aside, facing the prospect of fees in excess of HK$300,000 a year, with annual reviews/increases expected, sadly Hong Kong is simply not a viable long-term prospect for our (and I suspect many) non-Chinese-speaking family.
Devon Bovenlander, Sai Kung
Discounts can attract more fair exhibitors
I agree with Benjamin Chau Kai-leung, deputy executive director of the Trade Development Council, that incentives should be provided to encourage companies to participate in the Hong Kong Book Fair (“Hong Kong Book Fair kicks off, bigger than ever”, July 18).
Reading is not very popular in Hong Kong. I seldom see someone reading a book on the MTR. Instead, they are busy texting or using their smartphones in other ways.
It is important to foster good learning habits for our next generation. The book fair is the perfect kind of event to encourage youngsters to read more. However, I was disappointed to learn that some of the smaller companies could not exhibit, because of unaffordable operating costs.
In order to attract more exhibitors, business incentives, such as discounts, should be offered next year.
It would be a shame if the book fair was discontinued because it did not have enough participants.
Irene Liu Wing-yan, Tsuen Wan
Citizens should take advantage of sports day
The Sport for all Day, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, will be held on Sunday.
This annual event aims to encourage people to exercise more so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It sends an important message, especially as youngsters and adults in the city seem to be devoting less time nowadays to trying to keep fit.
Instead, they are sitting at home on their sofas with their mobile phones and tablets.
It is easy to scroll down on a computer and lose track of time, but we need to force ourselves to get out into the fresh air and do something active, such as jogging and swimming.
I urge citizens to get involved in this sports day. For example, they can book a sports facility for an hour for free.
I hope the government will continue to encourage Hong Kong citizens to try and get more exercise.
Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin
Officials must boost public housing supply
Earlier this year, a survey found that living conditions in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong’s poorest district, have deteriorated in the last four years.
I appreciate that the government has introduced policies that aim to alleviate poverty, and yet things have got worse in this district.
There are a number of contributory factors, such as higher rents, inadequate health-care services and overall a higher cost of living.
This means that residents are feeling more stressed than ever before. Prices are going up every year.
The government has to boost the supply of public housing in order to reduce waiting lists.
It also had a one-off allowance for the poor and that must now be reintroduced to alleviate conditions for people on low incomes.
Also, the health-care voucher scheme for elderly citizens should be expanded to include grass-roots families.
Carmen Wong, Kwai Chung