Letters to the Editor, December 6, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 5:06pm

Elderly need helpers as well as more clinics

Your columnist, Peter Kammerer, says Hong Kong needs more clinics, health and social workers trained in geriatrics to cope with the rise in the city’s elderly population (“Trained professionals needed to care for young and old, not more maids”, ­December 5).

He is surely correct. But, just as surely, he is incorrect in saying that boosting the number of helpers is “laughable”.

The fastest-growing demographic in Hong Kong is the over-80s; I will soon be in that cohort myself.

Some of us may need specialised geriatric care in clinics. But many are mobile and fit for their age, and would welcome a helper-cum-companion, to ­assist with mobility, cooking and other household chores.

My mother is 96 and still healthy and mobile. She lives in Australia and manages on her own, with family help.

She would certainly welcome a helper; but sadly Australia does not allow special domestic helper visas, as Hong Kong does.

As one of the 1.16 million over-65s, please let us keep the mixed system we have in Hong Kong. By all means more clinics and trained social workers. And by all means more helpers.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Extra salt and fat added to enrich flavour

I refer to the letter from Carly Chan (“Chefs can take initiative on healthy meals”, December 4). Ms Chan rightly highlighted the recent study by the Consumer Council and the government’s Centre for Food Safety, which underlined the importance of healthy and nutritious options when eating out.

However, she unwittingly also highlighted the paradox facing restaurateurs in Hong Kong, when she called on them to offer dishes that taste good, but are still nutritious.

In seeking to attract and satisfy “Hongkongers [who] eat out a lot, sometimes for pleasure but often because of the pressure of work”, restaurateurs face stiff competition in a difficult industry. And it is precisely those ­ingredients that are problematic for our health – salt, sugar and extra oil – which enrich (rightly or wrongly) the flavours of the food and thereby encourage more diners to choose them.

I do agree that “diners should think more carefully about the ingredients of the food they ­order”. But how are they to know how much salt or sugar has been used in the cooking process? In this regard, it is hardly possible for the customer to be “king”.

There will have to be government initiatives to regulate the industry, to prevent the long-term negative health effects of excessive salt and fat in the diet.

Jonathan Lewis, Mong Kok

Scottish trip an eye-opener on true learning

I recently went on a study trip to Scotland with my schoolmates. The trip really opened my eyes about our extremely competitive education system that causes students so much stress.

I found the Scottish students confident in their study methods and outcomes. They don’t have to take too many exams and quizzes, and lessons are interactive and help pupils to learn practical applications of the knowledge gained.

If students do not perform well in exams, teachers encourage them, instead of assigning blame. This positive attitude motivates students.

Also, competition to enter university in Scotland is low. Thus, students can set clearer career targets and reach their life goals much more easily.

Students in Hong Kong are ­often called “exam ­machines”, nurtured by a spoon-feeding education system. They just study for exams without a true understanding of subjects.

In contrast, Scottish students can think out of the box and ask questions when they don’t understand. They do not just learn from books, but also apply their knowledge to daily life. This trip made me think about learning from a new perspective.

Many students in Hong Kong regard learning as a chore but they still study hard, as they feel their lives will be worth nothing if they can’t enter university. But this is not what real learning should be about.

I hope our government can take steps to encourage creative thinking and practical applications for learning, instead of making students memorise a lot of information that they will forget soon after the ­Diploma of Secondary Education.

Michael Kwok, Yuen Long

Cost overrun for Central link is unacceptable

I refer to your report on the ­appalling budget blowout for the Sha Tin-Central rail link (“Cost of Sha Tin-Central rail link balloons to HK$87 billion, making it the most expensive rail project in Hong Kong history,” December 5)

Most Hongkongers need to take the MTR everyday, whether to school or work, and rush hour can be an ordeal on most lines.

Many of us have to skip quite a few trains to even get a foothold in the crowded carriages.

As a company, MTR Corp should definitely improve their service standards.

However, they seem to only consider profit margins, not the feelings or comfort of their millions of users.

Under the circumstances, I feel the huge extra cost to taxpayers for this rail project is ­unacceptable.

Sally Wong, Tsing Yi