Beijing's South China Sea claims fanciful
I refer to the report ("Philippines to take maritime dispute with China to UN", January 23).
Any fair-minded person viewing China's nine-dash line, that skirts the entire area of sea outside the 12-nautical-mile maritime territory of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, would come to the conclusion that it marks a bizarre and assertive attempt to grab territory.
China claims it wishes friendly relations with all countries in Asia but its recent actions are those of a bully. China appears to be following Mao Zedong's creed of "might is right".
I think the Philippines is correct to take Beijing to an arbitrational tribunal, under the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea, in order to protect an internationally recognised 200-mile-from-shore exclusive economic zone.
China's claim of sovereignty over the whole area, simply because it drew a red "nine-dash" line around the whole area in the late 1940s, is farcical and spurious.
Perhaps Italy will follow suit and claim the whole of the Mediterranean, or Ireland claim sovereignty over the whole north Atlantic up to the 12-mile limit of America.
Such claims would be just as fanciful.
P.C. Law, Quarry Bay
Sensible use of smartphone is important
Smartphones are an important part of daily life, helping to connect people to their loved ones, as well as valuable information, for example, stocks and shares.
Yet some people may spend too much time on their smartphones, at a risk of alienating themselves from their surroundings. Besides, if not paying attention while on a public transport system, accidents may occur.
If Hong Kong is to remain a truly world-class city, citizens should learn to balance their usage of these devices.\
Carl Geraghty, Cheung Chau
We need to do away with cramming
I am in Form Five in secondary school and feel that students in Hong Kong are under a lot of pressure.
I went to Finland for a month on an exchange trip and I agree with Roger Phillips ("Schools in Finland get results as good as HK with less pressure", January 8). Hong Kong can learn from that country.
We live in a pragmatic city, where parents and teachers care only about exam results.
The exam-oriented atmosphere dominates our education system and that of a number of Asian countries.
It is all about spoon-feeding and cramming. Teachers are always rushing to catch up and face a tight schedule. This puts them and their pupils under a lot of pressure.
The set-up in our schools distorts the true meaning of education and this state of affairs has to change.
I was very impressed by Finnish people, who came across as very smart.
I asked my host family how they could learn languages so quickly and be able to speak them so well.
They explained that their language-learning process was part of their daily lives.
They not only watch their own local television programmes, but also programmes from Sweden and America, so they could speak three languages. This is much better than the situation here.
Hong Kong students do not adopt this independent, language-learning approach. Instead, they rely on rote-learning, blindly following what their teacher tells them.
I agree with Mr Phillips that the Education Bureau should do something about this, such as promoting small-class teaching. More importantly, there must be fundamental changes in the system especially when it comes to cramming.
Clare Leung, Shun Lee
More private colleges not the answer
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a New People's Party lawmaker, has suggested that infrastructure at public tertiary institutions can be improved by adding more halls of residence.
She argues that it is better than giving out more land to private universities.
A lot of young people at school have done well enough in exams to qualify for undergraduate study, but fail to get a place because of infrastructure limitations.
It is unfair, because they met the required target and were still rejected.
This problem could be eased if there were more halls of residence.
With more of these facilities, universities could increase capacity and accommodate more students.
I agree with Mrs Ip that apportioning more land for private colleges is not a solution. These colleges are normally connected to private foreign universities and fees will be much more than for public universities, which are subsidised.
They would be too expensive for many young Hongkongers and so the problem of not enough places for locals would persist.
However, even if the public institutions increase capacity, there must still be strict monitoring of candidates to ensure academic standards are not compromised.
If standards are allowed to drop at our universities, it will have an adverse effect on Hong Kong's competitiveness.
The government must draw up guidelines for the minimum qualifications required to become an undergraduate. The qualifications should not be lowered.
William Chan, Sha Tin
Police urge drivers to be considerate
I refer to the letter by Peter Bentley ("Tycoons parking illegally with impunity on Wan Chai roads", January 22) and the piece in Lai See ("Eight police, two yellow lines", January 22), which mentioned the problem of illegal parking at Johnston Road outside Newman House, and Hennessy Road outside Southorn Centre, Wan Chai.
Wan Chai Police District has been in contact with Mr Bentley and has taken note of his concern on the traffic problem at the said locations since October of last year.
In fact, the local community and Wan Chai District Council have raised similar concerns in the past. The two locations are designated, together with other black spots within the district, for enhanced traffic enforcement. Since November, over 570 fixed penalty tickets have been issued at, or in the vicinity of, the two locations. The district council has been kept informed of the progress of police actions.
I trust your readers will appreciate that traffic in the district is one of the heaviest in Hong Kong. Enforcement action alone cannot solve traffic problems. Police appeal to drivers to be considerate to other road users.
Police will continue to monitor the situation and will take appropriate action to ensure road safety and smooth flow of traffic with due note of local unique circumstances.
Eddie Wong Kwok-wai, chief superintendent, Police Public Relations Branch
Conflicts with mainlanders inevitable
The mainland tourists who come to Hong Kong in their millions make the largest contribution to the growth of international tourism in Hong Kong.
Clearly, these tourists can help to stimulate the Hong Kong economy, especially in the retail sector.
But while more and more of them come here each year, there is also growing anti-mainlander sentiment.
The large rise in numbers from over the border is due to the increased integration between Hong Kong and the rest of China, with more multi-entry permits being issued.
This has led to public hospitals being swamped by mainland women wanting to give birth in Hong Kong.
Also, the prices of daily necessities have risen and because some mainlanders have been involved in speculation, property prices have soared.
Some people, especially in health care, have expressed concerns about Hong Kong services being overstretched.
Conflicts have also arisen because of differences in behaviour. Hongkongers have disapproved of the conspicuous consumption of mainlanders and their lack of etiquette.
They snap up brand name goods, squat on the road and talk loudly.
Then there have been the political concerns that the mainland regime could threaten our freedom of speech and other freedoms.
These conflicts will continue, but it is up to the Hong Kong and mainland authorities, through greater mutual co-operation, to try and solve the problem.
Amy Kong Shuk-fan, Kwai Ching
Fix windows to protect toddlers
It was so upsetting to read about the tragic death of a child, aged 2½, who fell from her father's ninth-floor North Point flat ("Toddler falls to her death from window", January 15).
I have a little boy who is just under two and is so active and happy that it makes me feel sad for the little girl's parents.
My reason for writing is to point out that terrible accidents like this can be avoided.
A strip of metal put into the bottom window frame rail using "pick-up fasteners" (that is, existing screws), stops the window opening too much so a little one cannot possibly get out.
I have fixed all my opening windows like this and, believe me, it is very quick and easy to carry out this task.
There is no need to put up grilles that are expensive for some families and look like a prison.
I hope the government will make it mandatory for families with small children to do this and so prevent more tragic deaths.
Phil Frost, Tung Chung