Letters to the Editor, November 25, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 9:01am

Singapore is ahead of pack on innovation

The missing link that Jake van der Kamp sees between Hong Kong’s higher per capita consumption than Singapore’s and the attributes of a smart innovative economy, is probably unique to him (“Hong Kong needs to think way out of the box to realise its own digital ­innovation dreams”, November 13).

His obsession with this measure of economic vibrancy is understandable, for the Lion City trumps the Lion Rock in virtually every other indicator and survey, including key pillars of overall wealth, such as median household income, and savings and investment. Average wealth per adult in Singapore is the highest in Asia, ­the latest Credit Suisse Wealth Report says.

What is so enviable about a high per capita consumption level that floats in the bubble of ridiculous property rents, or one that is fuelled by crippling debt, such as some Western economies? A smart economy will never leave such potential ­socio-economic market failures to chance, as innovation has always transcended mere tech gadgets and software.

Since independence, Singapore has implemented various public policy innovations that have placed the nation and a vast majority of Singaporeans in a steady state of fiscal health.

The Central Provident Fund scheme is one such innovation. It has enabled Singaporeans to save for home-ownership mortgage payments, ­investments, retirement, and health care; and is a major reason why its per capita consumption level is lower than Hong Kong’s.

Yet, critics like van der Kamp continue to wilfully ignore this major fact in their comparisons. Singapore is seen by them as no more than a low-tax haven for foreign multinationals, even though many of these corporations work with leading research institutions to design, test and launch products and services, creating many good jobs for Singaporeans and foreigners.

In a digital age, borders for trade and commerce are more porous. Does it make sense to reduce international capitalism to false “local versus foreign” ­dichotomies when, ultimately, the world must be the ­marketplace for entrepreneurs?

Especially when van der Kamp’s own call for Hong Kong to position itself as a test-bed for many global innovations echoes Singapore’s decades-old ­economic development ­playbook?

John Chan, Singapore

Changi beats Hong Kong on digital interface

Recent media reports have highlighted how Hong Kong is slipping behind in the e-revolution sweeping the world, ­including mainland China, and how the local government is focusing on promoting the same.

I found out today that world-class institutions here have yet to adapt to the new world of smartphones.

I was checking the flight status on the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) website and had to keep zooming in to read or to enter things like flight number and so on. It does say that they have an “app” but not too many people will download apps for such limited use. By contrast, rival Changi airport of Singapore has a very good ­mobile site which is easy to use.

HKIA is a world class airport – probably the best in the world, but sadly lagging behind in basic digital decorum.

Rahil Ahuja, Repulse Bay

Old buildings could be used as car parks

I refer to the report (“Drivers ­escape stiffer fines for illegal parking”, October 25).

I don’t think it would be good for the government to increase the fine, given the scarcity of parking spaces and an increasing number of vehicles. It is ­almost impossible for all ­vehicles to be parked legally.

If the number of parking spaces remains unchanged, the problem will worsen. But where is the extra land to build more parking spaces on? It is not as if car owners can be asked to sell off their vehicles and made to take public transport when they want to drive.

One solution is land reclamation. Our government may love this solution. It often resorts to this to solve the space problem. But this is a bad solution, not only because it harms the environment but also ­because of public opposition. Destroying ­­country parks for this purpose doesn’t make sense, and in any case would involve rezoning.

There are some old buildings in Hong Kong which are lying ­almost unused. I suggest we ­repurpose these buildings to ­develop residential space, car parks, and so on.

Timothy Fuh Yee-him, Tsuen Wan

Bike-sharing must not be a civic nuisance

There are four bike-sharing companies in Hong Kong, and a lot of their bikes are deployed in Sha Tin or Tseung Kwan O.

These bikes are often left at parking spaces. While this makes it convenient for users to find a bike, nearby residents end up with less parking space to use. The popularity of the service has led to an increase in the number of selfish bike users, who cycle on pedestrian ­pathways or ignore traffic lights.

These bike-sharing companies should make sure users do not inconvenience others.

Willis Wan Chun-yu, Sai Kung

Parents should teach children to be polite

I agree with Fiona Chan about rudeness in Hong Kong (“People tend to ignore basic lift ­etiquette”, November 15).

We have all experienced it: you are in a lift with scores of people squeezing and pushing their way in. Then someone rushes ­towards the lift but the person beside the door quickly presses the close-door button.

Such behaviour is becoming more common. We are mostly so busy scrolling down our Facebook or Instagram feeds that we don’t even look up to see who might be coming in. This shows we are becoming more impolite.

I am also worried about our future generations because, if parents will tolerate all manner of rudeness, children will often step over the mark.

Parents these days often spoil their kids for various reasons. This makes them self-centred and demanding, and prone to rudeness as adults. Courtesy begins at home, and core values like ­politeness should be taught to children from a young age.

Corliss Tuet, Sha Tin

Active learning will see pupils less stressed

I am writing in response to the article on unhappy children in our city (“One in 10 Hong Kong primary pupils suffers from ­serious depression”, November 20).

The government should change its education methods to ease the pressure on pupils.

Many schools place too much emphasis on drilling students, as they think such spoon-feeding allows them to learn more. But this only causes stress.

We need to promote active learning instead of the passive variety. Loads of homework only increases the pressure, but ­active learning encourages ­pupils to take the initiative in getting an in-depth understanding of what interests them, and so does not cause any anxiety.

Schools should still set some basic homework to aid a brief understanding of the topic, and then guide pupils to explore further in more interesting ways. More school social workers are needed as well, so pupils always find someone who will listen.

Vanessa Wong Lok-yu, Kwai Chung