PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 November, 2010, 12:00am

A caring home the key to child development

I was sorry to read the comments by vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese, Father Michael Yeung Ming-cheung and Choi Chi-sun, of the Society for Truth and Light, concerning surrogacy ('Use of surrogacy draws Catholic diocese rebuke', October 29).

I was also disappointed by the comments [on adoption] attributed to Catherine McBride-Chang, director of Chinese University's Centre for Developmental Psychology ('Make adoption easier, lawmaker urges', October 30).

Surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation are not unethical practices for the rest of us. The comments regarding the development of children are invalid. Children can grow up perfectly well adjusted, in every way, in adoptive and in single-parent families. Religious evangelists have often been responsible for unhealthy guilt in individuals, which can be harmful to a child's development. What is most important for children is the context of their development.

Babies and small children, in particular, brought up in their old-style institutions have certainly suffered the loss of a caring parent, and unconditional love, to their detriment. Children placed for adoption after a period in such institutions can have problems, not created by the adoption but rather by the type of care in the institution.

A baby placed directly from a parent or foster home is much more likely to have a problem-free adoption than one who experienced early life in an institution. That is one of the reasons governments in more child-friendly countries develop foster care as a priority in residential care for children.

I agree that children should not be produced to satisfy a selfish need, or a religious directive, which is why family planning and parent education can be important. I also agree with legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan, that if an individual or couple want to have children, are responsible, have love to give them and are prepared to devote much of their lives to the child's development, they should be supported. They should be eligible for consideration as potential adoptive parents for a child in need. Children in secure single-parent families have as much chance of successful development as children in two-parent families.

It is irresponsible and untrue to say that adopted children are more prone to behavioural problems. A child who has been in an institution at an early age may later experience behavioural problems. It is also true that family problems can adversely affect a child's development, and adolescence is often the period when this can be most visible. However, good, loving care and tolerance can overcome most problems.

Some Westerners are more willing to accept a disabled child or one about whose antecedents little may be known.

Values have also been changing in Asia as people become more affluent and secure, as is evident in the willingness of people to foster other people's children when given proper support. The issues of surrogacy and adoption are too complex for simple comments, which can also be insulting, and discouraging for people who give excellent care to, and have much love for, children.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai

Adoption is path to fatherhood

While not being a Catholic, I agree with the views expressed by the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong ('Use of surrogacy draws Catholic diocese rebuke', October 29) on the use of surrogacy by Peter Lee Ka-kit, of Henderson Land.

Our Social Welfare Department has a fantastic adoption unit which could have helped Mr Lee to realise his dream of becoming a father; and there are children out there waiting for the love that he wishes to bestow on a child.

Kelly Lam, Central

Three cheers for Shanghai expo

I am sure no one will deny that Shanghai's World Expo was a successful event.

It attracted a lot of attention globally, and large numbers of people from different countries visited the expo park.

Newspapers and internet sites included stories about what was happening at the expo and kept it in the spotlight.

I think the whole event was well managed and the organisers were able to maintain a green environment at the site.

For all these reasons I consider it to have been a success.

Billy Tang Chi-yung, Lok Fu

US Democrats were too far left

Media liberals will prefer to see the Democrats' downfall in the US midterm elections as merely a by-product of the troubled economy.

But an inconvenient truth is that their far-left agenda - personified in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - has decimated enthusiasm for Democrat rule far quicker than any unemployment figures. 'Obama-care' plus other equally unpopular social and economic schemes based on presumptions far to the left of our centre-right American electorate, have had predictable consequences for a Democrat-led government.

However, Democrats still seem determined to chase their bankrupt vision of utopia.

Ron Goodden, Atlanta, Georgia, US

Put a price on food waste

The amount of food waste generated by restaurants is a serious problem for Hong Kong.

If something is not done, our landfills will reach capacity and we will end up having more landfills.

If residents do not want a new one next to their home, they must tackle this problem. I think diners should be offered different portions - large, medium or small. The larger the portion, the more expensive it should be so that customers only choose what they can eat.

Finally, there should be a food waste charge. A restaurant would be charged depending on the volume of waste it produced. It could also charge customers if they left food waste.

Ivan Chiu Tak-chun, Sha Tin

One tongue does not fit all

It is interesting that Charmaine Chan chose Britain and the United States as examples of countries where a national language unified the country ('Language can unify nation', November 1).

The real situation is quite different.

English developed initially by the merging of the languages of successive invaders, and later by stealing parts of other languages, along with countries.

Some parts of Britain still speak totally different languages: Welsh and Gaelic, and even some English dialects may be unintelligible to natives from other regions.

The US also formed its own versions of English, incorporating words from many immigrants' languages. Some parts of the country also recognise Spanish as an official language. To say these countries were united by their national language ignores the facts.

Insisting that children should learn in a non-parental language at school under the pretence of not wanting minorities to be disadvantaged in fact does the opposite.

It deals them the double blow of denying them their family culture and forcing them to learn in an unfamiliar language that their parents cannot support them in. Children should have the opportunity to learn both their national and their cultural language.

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang

Heed students in class debate

In the debate over small-class teaching, our society must make sure that the voices of students are taken seriously and not drowned out.

The most important stakeholder in education issues should be the students. However, in education policy debates, their opinions are far too often crowded out and neglected.

The reduction in the student population and the promotion of small-class teaching are two separate issues. Promoting smaller class sizes is only one of the feasible solutions to tackle the falling student population, while reducing the number of classes per school is another one. But this is not to say I do not support small-class teaching. As a secondary school teacher, I can see that smaller class sizes would bring big benefits to students, and enhance their learning quality. Yet I hope our society could have a fair and balanced discussion on this issue before coming to any conclusion.

Educators, parents and officials must not prematurely assume they know what students really want. Didn't the government make liberal studies a compulsory subject to develop pupils' critical thinking? Do they want smaller class sizes? Let us hear from the students. Empower them and make their opinions count.

Jeff Sze, Tin Wan

The minimum wage of dignity

Everyone should be outraged by the decision of Cafe de Coral to exclude the time for meals from being counted as working hours in order to combat the effect of the minimum wage.

Every time the company's workers demand a pay rise, it rejects it, saying it will lower its profits, even though these profits are not greatly affected by salaries. Legislation will force the firm to pay a living wage so employees can pay for the basic necessities of life.

It then modifies the contract to comply with the minimum wage law but squeezes people who are powerless. Given the huge profits it makes every year, has the firm ever thought about the people who work for it?

They want a minimum wage because they want their dignity. I think it is time for company bosses to do some serious soul-searching.

Cheung Wai-yu, Kwun Tong