Letters to the Editor, November 02, 2015
Serious splits will weaken pan-democrats
In your editorial ("A reality check for pan-dems", October 20) you explored the divisions within the pan-democratic camp. Such divisions are unsurprising.
Currently, the only thing the pan-democrats have in common is that they call themselves pan-democrats. Previously they were united by opposition to the government's plan for the 2017 chief executive election. Now, having defeated the government bill, they have no policy issue or common strategy around which they can coalesce.
To be fair, even in mature democracies holding together a coalition of merely two parties is challenging. To maintain a coalition of multiple parties without the glue or prospect of executive power is almost impossible. And that is the key point. There are too many parties within the pan-democratic camp. In fact, there are too many parties in Legco.
Having read online the biographies of Legco members, there appear to be among those declaring an affiliation around 13 parties represented in a chamber of 70 members.
As far as one can tell, seven of those parties form the pan-democratic camp. The presence of so many parties in so small a chamber makes no sense. It provokes divisions, as the pan-democrats are now discovering. It complicates the formulation of policy and strategy and, crucially, complicates relationships with critical external audiences such as the electorate and the government.
What the pan-democrats need to do is consolidate, to recognise that, difficult though it may be, their future lies in reducing the number of parties in their camp. Two should do.
Where the critical fault line lies between present camp members that would facilitate such a development is for the pan-democrats themselves to determine.
What is clear, however, is that the present loose structure of their alliance, if one can call it that, is unsustainable.
Far fewer parties would facilitate generation of coherent policies and strategies. It would help clarify communication with the electorate. It might even improve relations with the government.
Undoubtedly it would be a significant contribution to a more mature democratic process in Hong Kong.
David Hall, Mid-Levels
Criticism of young activists is so unfair
Many students skipped classes to take to the streets and join the Occupy Central movement in order to express their discontent with the government.
During that period, critics of these youngsters used a derogatory Cantonese term to describe them, fai tsing, and it went viral.
The critics said these young people were immature and wasting their energy instead of working hard.
However, I think that in their own way these youngsters showed a great deal of determination.
They were very resourceful and used the internet, especially social media, to get across the Occupy Central message. They organised themselves efficiently and formed alliances.
In this way they were able to get the support of young Hongkongers studying overseas.
Many showed their artistic flair, for example, making yellow origami umbrellas, drawing cartoon characters, writing songs and making contributions to the Lennon wall.
There was a sense of community as the Occupy protesters shared food and drink with strangers and gave each other a hand when the sites were being cleared. Free tutoring workshops were organised for students doing their schoolwork.
They tried hard to maintain a clean environment, picking up refuse and separating plastic, cans and paper for recycling.
Those people who dubbed these youngsters fai tsing, should take note of what these young people have achieved, whether they are aiming for democracy or pursuing their own aspirations.
I have high hopes for the next generation.
Cheryl Leung Li-ling, Pok Fu Lam
Assessment system bad for students
Learning can be both a blessing and a curse in students' lives.
There have been calls recently to cancel the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) in schools [for Primary Three and Six and Form Three pupils]. These calls have been rejected by the education secretary. I think the TSAs are detrimental to the teaching quality in schools and to the lives of students and teachers and should be scrapped.
The original purpose of the TSAs has been distorted by the Education Bureau.
They were designed to help the government to investigate the study processes of students and provide the necessary resources in each school to improve the quality of teaching. But they have resulted in the bureau, when looking at schools with a poor academic performance, focusing on the students' academic results.
This increases the pressure on these schools with heads fearing the school may shut. So they focus on improving academic results and neglect students' personal development.
Students end up doing a lot of additional exercises and tutorial classes in improve their exam skills. This reduces their leisure time and is bad for their health. This runs counter to the original goal of the TSAs.
They put more pressure on teachers who face a heavier workload and who sometimes have to get involved in administration. I strongly believe that scrapping the TSA is the only way to reduce the problems mentioned.
Joyce Chung Nga-lok, Yau Yat Chuen
Studying abroad often the best option
I agree with correspondents who have argued that some students are sent abroad to study to escape the spoon-feeding education system in Hong Kong.
The curriculum is exam-oriented.
It can often mean that young people are not able to apply what they have learned in school to their daily lives.
Also, at tertiary level, many youngsters go abroad because there are not enough university places here and competition is keen.
Taiwan, for example, is one of the places young Hongkongers go to study for a degree instead of staying here.
The entry requirements at its universities are lower than in Hong Kong and there is greater choice in terms of institutions and courses.
This is also the case with tertiary education in other countries.
If the Hong Kong government provided more university places and created a better learning environment in schools, I think that more young people would stay here for their further education.
Gigi Yang Cheuk-chi, Ma On Shan
Some bad dogs even with good owners
I agree with much of what Joan Miyaoka says ("No one in Hong Kong should be deprived of owning a dog", October 27), but she says "There are no bad dogs, only bad owners". I've seen the occasional bad owner raise a good dog and a few bad dogs with good owners.
All dogs have there own personality and while they can be trained, they are unlikely to change much from what comes naturally. I've been fairly lucky with the half dozen I've owned in Hong Kong but I had to have one put down after she started biting some people and nothing would dissuade her.
We now have a rescue dog and he could not have had a worse start at the hands of a human.
He was rescued from a rubbish bin with his head partially smashed and one eye gone.
Despite this terrible start, it would hard to find a more friendly animal, with other dogs and humans. I would hate to be without him.
There are dogs that can only be described as a nuisance, having no street manners and barking too much. Bringing a nervous, perpetual barker into a block of flats is not recommended. Just about all dogs bark at certain sounds and at strangers. It's hard wired into them.
All an owner can and must do is clean up after the animal and try to curb by training any other anti-social activity.
Peter Berry, Lamma
Cross-border cooperation long overdue
I refer to your editorial ("Set up statutory body for tourism", October 29).
The most effective way to eliminate the notorious and deceptive "cheap tours" is for there to be cooperation between the Hong Kong and mainland tourism authorities which should seek to standardise regulations for the whole tourism industry.
The people involved in these cheap shopping tour traps come from both sides of the border and there is collusion by some stores, restaurants and hotels. The tourism authorities from here and north of the border need to collaborate and jointly investigate this collusion.
The problem is that regulations here and on the mainland are different and this makes enforcement of rules more difficult.
Travel agencies in Hong Kong often hire what are known as "shadow tourists" from the mainland who persuade other tourists to make high-price purchases.
Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council needs to meet with its counterpart on the mainland and draw up a comprehensive set of regulations regarding cheap shopping tours which can be enforced and are effective.
Cai Zhenfei, Wong Tai Sin