Science degree offers limited job options
Press reports pointed out that the visit of Chinese astronauts to Hong Kong earlier this month had inspired youngsters to look at science, not just business.
Although China's space heroes during their visit were able to raise students' levels of interest in science and technology, teenagers who study these subjects will find that this city is not a research and development hub. There is no market for science and technology firms here.
Every year, many graduates emerge from our universities with degrees ranging from biomedical science to computer engineering. Most have a sound knowledge of cutting-edge technology, but the problem comes when they go looking for suitable jobs. They will find there are not enough companies in the SAR requiring their skills and the vacancies that are available are for sales people rather than research staff.
It takes time to develop a successful science and technology sector. During the long development period required, firms find it hard to cope with Hong Kong's skyrocketing rents and the salaries demanded. They find it easier to sell products or services to clients. This helps keep operating costs low and R & D will be supplied by firms outside Hong Kong.
This explains why our well-trained science graduates have to curb their enthusiasm for their chosen field and enter the business world.
This cruel reality leaves a lot of science graduates like me disappointed.
Roger Ku, Tai Po
Officials did not respond to arguments
I note the letter from Gabriel Pang, of the Water Supplies Department ("Wording of water bill to be changed", August 20).
It is one of the few government departments that is actually receptive to the public's views and is changing the centuries-old "Demand for Payment" to simply "Bill". Kudos to Mr Pang for listening.
By contrast, the Education Bureau has been conspicuous by its silence when it comes to letters about the standards of English and other matters related to the teaching of English in Hong Kong. There was one from me ("Citizens from ethnic minorities could help raise English standards in schools", July 23) and another from Paul Stables ("Minorities can help with English", July 11), followed by subsequent related letters over the following weeks.
Perhaps the heads of this particular department are too preoccupied with preparations to send their offspring for schooling overseas to be bothered?
Roberto E. Castilho, Ho Man Tin
English absent in a lot of sales literature
The young lady who claims that the use of simplified Chinese characters by a shop in Causeway Bay robs the dignity and culture of Hong Kong people might have some real cause for complaint if her native language was English ("Store chain rethink over traditional Chinese tags", August 16).
She would find that in many shops, large and small, sales literature is only available in Chinese despite the fact that English is one of the official languages of Hong Kong.
Colin Campbell, Mid-Levels
Arable land will be lost forever
I refer to the report ("Save our NT farmland, greens urge", August 17).
The government proposes turning farmland in Kwu Tung North, Fanling North and Ping Che into public and private housing estates.
If the plan goes ahead, Hong Kong will end up with less farmland.
With less available land, it will be more difficult for local farmers to earn a living and for Hongkongers to have access to healthy and reasonably priced organic food, from producers who can continue to operate in the SAR.
People opposed to the housing development say we will lose a unique and precious culture when the land goes.
However, supporters of the proposed project talk about the SAR's housing shortage which has spawned subdivided cubicles.
Developers will obviously always support proposals for new estates, even if it means taking over cultivated fields.
It wants to make a profit and would rather see skyscrapers and malls than farms. But what is at risk is a beautiful and precious rural area.
I realise that Hong Kong is a money-oriented city, but we need to do something to protect what natural resources remain for future generations.
More must be done to educate people about the benefits of saving these resources and protecting the environment.
Only in this way can we get the message across to young people that they should cherish and look after our wonderful environment.
Alex Chan, Tai Po
Most Chinese boats do not target sharks
I refer to the report ("Marketing agent spins line on truth in shark fin trade", August 18).
It implies that the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association is putting a "spin" on the truth for marketing purposes.
The observations of the association's deputy director, Cui He, on China's shark fishing industry are in marked contrast to the campaign literature from WildAid and The Nature Conservancy.
Cui He points out that China's catch of sharks is mainly bycatch rather than targeted fisheries. Its total shark catch is appreciably less than that of the US, Spain and many other countries. This is confirmed by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
On behalf of his members, Cuie He expresses puzzlement over why fishermen would be expected to leave fins on dead sharks in nets, and why anti-shark fin campaigners ignore the taking of sharks for meat.
These are both legitimate questions. In contrast, Wild- Aid's claim that "British scientist" Shelly Clark concluded that the sharks traded in China were caught "just to have their fins cut off" is not true.
She never reached that conclusion because, as I said, most fins are byproducts of shark meat fisheries.
The Nature Conservancy's claim that shark fishing will stop if there is no market for fins is spin, because the boneless fillets of shark meat are in high demand in Western countries.
That ex-basketball star Yao Ming seems a victim of marketing "spin" by the US-based campaigners is sad.
Charlie Lim, chairman, conservation and management committee, Marine Products Association
Too many lifts will be bad for our health
As a new fan of and frequent swimmer at the Sun Yat Sen swimming pool, I was surprised and a bit disappointed to read about plans for a lift at the ramp leading to the building ("Leung unveils plan for a 'city of lifts'", August 22).
With all due respect to new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, I would humbly suggest that that particular location does not need one.
It does not need one because the current structure in place is functioning absolutely fine.
Why tear up a perfectly good concrete ramp to install energy- consuming elevators? Furthermore, isn't Hong Kong already a city of lifts?
While I agree that enhancing mobility for the elderly is an important goal, at some point the introduction of so many lifts will in fact be detrimental to the health of Hong Kong citizens.
As someone who comes from a city where everyone drives and no one walks, it is amazing to me that people of all ages roam the streets here. It dawned on me that walking is an important part of staying healthy.
I hope local leaders don't forget that in their aim to add so many new lifts.
Christopher Yang, Shek Tong Tsui
Why paternity leave is so important
I would strongly support any move by the government to introduce a law providing statutory paternity leave.
The husband has a very important role to play in the family home just after the birth of the child.
He can help his wife who may be feeling quite weak at this time.
It also enables new fathers to spend a lot of the time with their baby during the important first few days.
Many of us have to work long hours in Hong Kong and once the father is back in the office, he will sometimes find it difficult to spend as much time as he would like with his child.
These early days are precious moments and a new father should be allowed to savour them.
There has been some discussion about how much statutory paternity leave should be allowed if a law is passed.
It is important to strike the right balance and I think that 10 days would be appropriate.
This gives fathers plenty of time to spend with the baby and with his wife.
I think granting a longer statutory period for fathers would be inappropriate as it would put too much pressure on the companies they work for.
I don't think a 10-day leave period would hurt a firm.
When you look at the advantages and disadvantages, I believe that paternity leave legislation will do more good than harm.
Ian Lai, Sha Tin