Letters to the Editor, March 12, 2018

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 4:27pm

Why fears over DSE distortion are unfounded

I refer to Ms Jenny Cheung’s letter which voiced her uneasiness over the fee waiver for the Diploma of Secondary Education exams in 2019, offered to both school and private candidates (“DSE fee ­exemption could hurt Hong Kong students, if tutors and jokesters get in the fray”, March 6).

Ms Cheung fears that the grading mechanism could be distorted by professional candidates like tutors, and that untrained private candidates and even troublemakers may disturb the exams, especially the oral test. I disagree.

The standards-referenced ­reporting system is adopted for candidates who range from level 1 to level 5, so the actual performance, not the number of candidates, impacts general grading.

While the cut scores of top levels of 5* and 5** are set on a pro-rata basis, 15,000 grade 5* or above in category A subjects are awarded every year. To distort the reporting system, there must be thousands of tutors sitting the exam. Are there enough tutors to distort the grading system by getting excellent results?

Regarding unprepared candidates, it is the responsibility of candidates like Ms Cheung’s child to learn how to deal with this. Even if private candidates were barred, there can be school candidates who cannot apply proper communication skills in the exam. If they fail to do well in the oral test, should we call for scrapping their payment waiver?

Regarding the discipline problem, the situation is unlikely to be as bad as some think. Statistics from the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority show that more than 1,000 private candidates who are not repeaters sit the DSE every year. Despite their considerable number, the number of cases of rule violation by all candidates seldom exceeds 700.

Such figures reveal the fallacy of exaggerating the side-effects of the fee waiver. Why don’t parents and students ask for stricter exam rules, instead of punishing all private candidates in an endeavour to keep out troublemakers?

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town

Change in China blurs limits of power

On Sunday, delegates to the ­National Peoples’ Congress in Beijing approved the end of limitations to the tenure of the Chinese president.

This allows the leader of the country to be in power for more than 10 years, even for his entire lifetime. This amendment has ­destroyed democratic development in mainland China.

While some government officials claim it may ensure administrative efficiency in campaigns to eradicate corruption and improve people’s livelihoods, this move places the constitution in a more dangerous place. We all witnessed how fragile the Basic Law is in the eyes of authority, but now even the constitution can be amended to consolidate one’s power.

The idea of a constitution is to lay out the scheme of government structures and to limit the power of officials. It also sets the boundary between the party and the whole country to prevent mutual interference.

With this amendment of the Chinese constitution, I fear the boundary is less definite.

Some may think we should prolong a leader’s terms of service if he serves the people well. But power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The Stanford prison experiment of 1971 showed that an individual could abuse their power and do terrible things regardless of their morality. The power to rule a whole country is so enormous that the leader should be elected on a regular basis.

The constitutional amendment, despite near-unanimous approval, brings China one step closer to dictatorship.

Josh Sin, Tuen Mun

History shows trade snub may haunt Trump

I refer to how the US government forced the delegation of Liu He, China’s top economic adviser, to be reduced from 40 to 10 people (“How US played hardball over top Chinese economic adviser’s Washington trip”, March 7).

US President Donald Trump refused to see Liu, a right-hand man of President Xi Jinping, who was conveying Xi’s desire for the US to avert a trade war and uphold free trade.

Trump’s snub of Liu brings to mind the trade mission of a senior British ambassador, George, First Earl of Macartney, to China in 1793. Like Liu with the US, Lord Macartney was hoping to expand trade ­between Britain and China.

However, like Trump, emperor Qianlong rejected the offer of free trade from Britain’s King George III. The Chinese emperor’s haughty dismissal of Lord Macartney foreshadowed China’s decline and eventually its ­humiliating defeat by Britain, and other powers, in the opium wars in the next century.

While it is well within the rights of the US government to disagree with Beijing, Trump should take heed that publicly humiliating the Chinese is a bad idea.

The Chinese place a premium on “face”. It was unwise of Trump to humiliate Liu by publicly snubbing him. Chinese leaders have a long memory on humiliations, so this may return to haunt Trump.

Toh Han Shih, Happy Valley

Keeping out liver surgeon will hurt public

Liver transplant specialist Kelvin Ng Kwok-Chai sparked controversy when he left a patient on the operating table at Queen Mary Hospital for three hours, to attend to another at a private hospital.

For this transgression, his contract was not renewed by the University of Hong Kong. However, while punishment may be justified, as his act also hurt the image of public hospitals, I believe it was inconsiderate of the government not to renew his contract.

Dr Ng is the second most experienced in his field in the city. If he can no longer practice in the public sector, it would be a loss for the people of Hong Kong. Given our chronic shortage of doctors – the reason why Dr Ng was on a special part-time contract – the decision to him keep out is not necessarily in the best interests of patients.

Angel Wong, Yau Yat Chuen