More can be done to cut dropout rate
There are annually about 2,000 reported cases of students who drop out of school before reaching 15 ('Life on the flip side', October 9).
Also, the dropout rate in recent years for students from 15 onwards in the 12-year free education system is reported to be more than 4,000 every year.
Many of the dropouts lack the confidence and stamina to continue studying because they come from poverty-stricken, disadvantaged or dysfunctional households.
Through its various schools, such as the youth colleges, the Vocational Training Council is performing an important educational role by taking in many Form Three school leavers, including dropouts.
There is, however, an urgent need for the education system to have in place more specialised educational and professional services that could help, encourage and support problem students early enough so as to substantially reduce the school dropout level.
The unemployment rate for young people aged between 15 and 19 is about 20 per cent, which is much higher than the current overall jobless rate of 3.2 per cent. This a matter of serious public concern.
The Hong Kong Civic Association urges the chief executive to do what he can before his term of office expires to ensure that measures are in place aimed at bringing down the student dropout level and so improve the productivity and quality of Hong Kong's 12-year free education system.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, president, Hong Kong Civic Association
Morally bankrupt citizens
I felt sadness and indignation when I read the report ('Badly injured child left for dead in traffic', October 17) and the fact that passers-by had looked the other way after the two-year-old was struck 'three times by two vehicles' in an alley in Foshan , Guangdong.
There is no doubt that the drivers of the two vehicles should be condemned for what happened. But the passers-by who did not bother to help the girl are no less reprehensible. Shame on them.
It is generally believed that this tragedy is just the tip of the iceberg on the mainland. Many people turn a blind eye to the victims of violent crimes or traffic accidents.
Surely it should be obvious to citizens that if someone is injured you do what you can to help them.
It is shameful that so many mainland citizens can be so cold-blooded that they will not give a helping hand. Have they no conscience?
It is simply ridiculous for a country to boast about its economic growth when the morality of its people is dead.
Michael Ko, Sham Shui Po
Restricted view of philanthropy
I am surprised that Lee Chun-wing, a member of Left21 that organised the 'Occupy Central' gathering on October 15, claims that the Central Rat Race, an annual charity event, would not be needed in a society where wealth is more equally distributed and where banks are taxed properly ('Anti-Wall Street protest reaches Asia's capitals', October 16).
Surely, charitable undertakings should be encouraged irrespective of the tax and social systems.
After all, no matter what society we have (be it capitalist, socialist or even communist), there are bound to be people with reduced means or who are in need of assistance. Or is your correspondent suggesting that, when a fairer society (whatever that may be in his eyes) has been achieved, we no longer need to care about other people?
It is disappointing that Mr Lee, a social science lecturer belonging to the post-1980s generation, has got so carried away by leftist dogma and his hatred of capitalism that he holds such a restricted view of the concept of philanthropy.
Maggie W. C. Cheng, Quarry Bay
Sweeping reforms necessary
William Meacham got it entirely wrong in his comments ('Wall Street protests echo voice of few', October 11) on the editorial 'Wall Street protests deserve support' (October 7).
What we are seeing now is the divide between the old and the new and the actions on the streets are a sign of the new surpassing the old.
The older generation has set ways. Younger people do not pretend to have precise answers, but they can clearly see problems which are the result of a lack of planning. It is the endgame of the 'me generation'.
That stance by the wielders of power is unsustainable. Because of their fixed mindset they only know to stick to the same ideas. It is a kind of mental crystallisation.
The young see a different future and they are communicating and showing solidarity.
They have a grasp of the methodology of non-violence. This is not an easy stance for them to take, as they are the dispossessed.
Your correspondent is wrong to describe the Wall Street protest movement as a 'mere ripple on the surface'. It is a surging undercurrent making its way towards the shore.
Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong
Raw deal for disabled in Hong Kong
The government has a responsibility to take care of the disabled.
However, facilities available to them in the city are inadequate and there is more that the administration could do. They often find it difficult to get around when they go out. Like all Hongkongers, they want to be able to go to the shops, but their transport options are limited.
This means that many disabled citizens remain at home most of the time. The government must provide them with the facilities they need so they can leave home and go where they wish in the city, just like other Hong Kong people.
Kelvin Ng, Sha Tin
Ethical issues must be considered
I do not know how many people in Hong Kong remember Li Guoxing, a 30-year-old man from Yunnan province. He was China's first, and the world's second, partial face transplant patient in 2006.
The operation was performed by Professor Guo Shuzhong and his team in Xian at no cost to the patient. Sadly Mr Li died in 2008 primarily because he had returned to his rural home and could not afford the regular medical check-ups and the post-transplantation immunosuppression.
The response of the people of Hong Kong to the call for support for a child from rural China needing a liver transplant is heartwarming but the real costs cannot be underestimated, as a lifetime commitment of care and costly immunosuppression is needed. In addition there is no transplant centre in the world that can offer a paediatric transplant patient a normal life in terms of quality and quantity.
This contrasts with such conditions as cleft lip and palate repair and crippling post-burn contractures in children. For HK$1 million, 50 cleft children could be given a normal life, 10 children could be unlocked from the prison of their post-burn scars.
Such are the resource implications related to transplantation and the ethical issues that need to be discussed in an open and transparent manner.
Our thoughts are with Professor Lo Chung-mau and his team as they deliberate with the parents on the kindest road to take with this young child.
Professor Andrew Burd, department of surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital
Website of party lacked information
I am pleased to hear that Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee attaches high importance to the expatriate vote ('Party values expatriates' votes as well', October 14), in reply to the letter by B. Ivarsson ('Electioneers overlook English vote', October 11).
Although I have seen election banners and leaflets around my home in Aberdeen, I have not noticed any information from the New People's Party in English, and I have not found a list of their candidates in the district council elections on their website. Can Regina Ip remind candidate(s) in Aberdeen to provide key information in English as well?
On a more general point, how, exactly, does she identify 'districts with an expatriate population'?
None of her party workers have asked me whether I am a voter, and which district I live in.
Allan Dyer, Aberdeen