ESF - English Schools Foundation


PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2006, 12:00am

Q Can on-the-spot fines for smokers be enforced?

It depends on how many environmental wardens the government employs. In public places, they could issue tickets directly. Repeat offenders would get a bigger fine.

In restaurants and bars, the onus must be placed on the owners to enforce the ban or be fined. Leaving them to be voluntarily smoke-free just does not work.

Overseas, there are telephone numbers for the public to report abuses - three fines on a licensed premise and you lose your restaurant and liquor licence.

The managers and owners already have a duty to care for the health and safety of their workers and patrons under existing laws, so they must bear the burden of enforcing the laws or pay the penalty.

James Middleton, Pat Heung

Regarding on the spot fines for smoking in banned areas - who cares?

Obviously, Hong Kong law enforcement doesn't. Having lived on the outlying islands for 20 years, I have yet to see anyone ever fined for littering, letting their dogs foul the pavement, throwing their bags of garbage out on the street or spitting, often in plain view of the police.

Why do you think people never put their bags on the floor on the ferries, and put them on the nearest unoccupied seat instead? The floor is disgusting, to put it flatly! These laws are so rarely enforced that one person getting fined for spitting was such a newsworthy event that the Post ran a small article about it a couple of weeks ago. I am surprised it did not make the international news.

The attitude of the Hong Kong government is to huff and puff and blight the city with a million signs saying do and don't - with dire warnings of lengthy prison terms and massive fines - and then to do absolutely nothing about them.

I would be happy to see reasonable on-the-spot fines of $100 or $200 for public hygiene offences (smoking, littering, spitting, etc.) simply enforced. The stigma of being caught out will do more to change people's habits than threatening them with big fines everyone knows will not be enforced.

David Camacho, Mui Wo

As usual, the government has got it wrong again. The notion of instant fines for smoking is, like restaurant proprietors claim, unenforceable. Such a proposal is merely lip service. Without empowering those who cater to smokers (owners of restaurants and entertainment venues) to impose fines, the scheme is doomed to failure. Even if such a measure were taken, what restaurant owner in their right mind would impose a fine on their paying customers?

If the government is serious about ensuring the health of its citizens, it should take a hard line and not just provide punitive measures.

Legislate, enforce in a high-profile manner (using a few examples throughout the city and publicise. The population will only sit up and pay attention if it hits them, or someone else with the potential to hit them, in the pocket.

Kam Leung, Homantin

How refreshing to learn that the Police Officers' Club in Causeway Bay is taking a welcome lead in the smoking and health issue: from April 9; all indoor facilities will be smoke-free. Such areas include several restaurants and a bar. I am looking forward to many other businesses adopting a healthier lifestyle and showing greater consideration to patrons, customers and staff.

Name and address supplied

Q Is the increase in ESF school fees justifiable?

The letter from Felice Lieh Mak (April 3) purports to explain why the English Schools Foundation (ESF) needs to increase fees. She fails to mention as a reason the extra wages bill incurred by the stacking of what they now call ESF Central with newly created management positions and support staff, giving the impression to many that the chief executive officer - dubbed by some as the Hired Assassin - is consolidating her power base by hiring those of a like mind. Fair enough, if this was leading to improved management, but as ESF teachers will readily tell you, it is not.

Indeed, the fact that teacher morale remains so abysmally low is, according to widespread opinion, due to bumbling, inept and ineffectual management with a total lack of inspirational leadership. For starters, if the appointment of highly paid executives plus support staff and facilities was considered necessary, then why was each appointee and the rationale behind the appointment not made known to all staff?

Yet, as always, when an ESF controversy hits the headlines, your letter columns are bombarded by sour-grape, anti-ESF invectives from staff and parents from other non-government schools. These malcontents have long resented what was once the ESF's proud policy of rewarding teachers for long hours of dedicated service, and for providing value-for-money education.

One would think their passion and effort would have been more effectively directed at campaigning for suitably rewarded teachers and improved value for fees from the schools they support. The same malcontents should also pause to consider the difference in class sizes between ESF schools and other non-government schools.

For the record, I am not an ESF teacher, but my spouse is. We also have a child at Island School, for which we have nothing but praise - especially for its extremely dedicated and professional teachers.

Name and address supplied