Letters to the editor, November 4, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 November, 2015, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 November, 2015, 4:53pm

Don't play politics with water safety

I refer to the report, "Hong Kong lawmakers reject bid to set up select committee to probe lead-in-water scandal" (October 16).

The Housing Department and the Water Supplies Department have acknowledged that lead was found in solder samples taken from some of the affected housing estates. These were handled by a licensed plumber, thus giving rise to the speculation that there might have been government wrongdoing.

I agree with the pan-democrats that it is in the public interest to investigate the responsible parties. However, I do not think the Democratic Party's motion to set up yet another inquiry - this time a select committee to identify those responsible - is useful, at least not at this stage.

Why would the pan-democrats insist on seeking the creation of another committee to investigate the lead-in-water scandal while there are three other inquiries already examining the matter, especially given the district council elections are just weeks away?

Suppose the pan-democrats' motion passes, the amount of time and money spent on putting the "right" personnel together for the select committee is unlikely to be looked upon kindly by the public, particularly when the priority now is to ensure drinkable and healthy water for Hong Kong people.

Some argue that transparency and government competency is important, but here's my question: how many committees do we really need to look like we are on top of things? Perhaps it is in the public interest to set up an independent committee to evaluate how comprehensive and incorruptible all these committees are.

It's safe to say that the water safety issue has become a political tool in the competition for votes at the upcoming elections between the pan-democrats and their opposing camp.

Whether it is water contamination, air pollution or any other public concern, the health and welfare of the citizens should always be prioritised. Politicising health issues and risking citizens' well-being for political ends is unethical.

Liu Xin Yue, Hung Hom


Address real concerns of HK youths

It was interesting to read Darwin Chen Tat-man's insights on the issues concerning young people in Hong Kong ("Divided city should look to its past for guidance", October 22). He is spot on in his comments about the Community Care Fund approach. As he also rightly points out, Hong Kong youth are educated, interested in society and, in this, connected globally.

Democracies worldwide have critical thinkers for whom their systems allow free expression.

Sometimes demonstrations take place, as in Occupy Central, in which views can be publicly expressed and a somnolent public awoken to issues about which they may have known little and which may stimulate better answers. Regrettably, if the feeling is that decision-makers are not listening, violence can occur, on both sides.

Fortunately, doctors did not have to occupy the streets to get attention over their personal interests!

Having a democratic context and generally excellent justice system, the colonial government was confident in its ability, realising that there had to be some valves for public expression and means to anticipate matters of concern to the public. They did not have to rely on shoeshiners to give only the acceptable answers.

The interview with Mr Chen, with his broad and varied experience, is an excellent reader for governance in Hong Kong.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai


Officials' poor tech record gives pause

If the government is successful this week with the funding application for a new technology bureau, it will have its work cut out. For a government that has been actively encouraging the development and implementation of new ideas, the record is not good.

Some of the key areas are likely to be autonomous car technology and the sharing economy. To date, the only action seems to be facilitating charging stations for electric cars! Given the approach to the new air traffic control system, Uber and the Tesla self-drive functions, things are not looking hopeful.

Tymon Mellor, Tai Po


No good reasons for a tech bureau

There is no question that innovation and technology are crucial to the future of Hong Kong. However, setting up a government bureau to promote them is not the answer, especially considering the administration's propensity in appointing misfits.

The government should first satisfy the public how it is going to run this bureau, before asking for funding. Now it is diverting public attention to the obstruction of funding approval. Usual trick.

Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long


Improve test system for schools

Some parents are calling for the Territory-wide System Assessment [for Primary Three pupils] to be abolished. I think it has its value, but some changes must be made.

First, the rationale for implementing the assessment is to help schools and teachers enhance learning plans. But by giving out supplementary exercises to students to improve their test scores, schools are putting the cart before the horse. The exam becomes part of the learning plan, instead of being used for feedback. This contradicts the original design of the assessment.

Schools must be made to recognise the role of the assessment and put a stop to excessive drilling.

Second, the exam is too difficult. It is astonishing to hear that some parents and even a legislator have failed the test for Primary 6 pupils. It clearly shows that the papers are too difficult. The Education Bureau must adjust the level of difficulty to one that is more suitable.

Third, some parents overestimate the importance of the assessment. Worried that the test would affect their children's overall performance, they force them to do many exercises.

The schools must communicate clearly to parents about the role of the tests. Students need their parents' support and understanding, and parents should give guidance but not force their children.

Scrapping the Territory-wide System Assessment is not a must. But the Education Bureau, schools and parents must all cooperate to ensure it is being used to help students, instead of letting it become their nightmare.

Yeung Sze Nga, Yau Yat Chuen


Dogs are a nuisance in public housing

In her letter, Joan Miyaoka said public housing estates should allow pets ("No one in Hong Kong should be deprived of owning a dog", October 27). I don't agree.

Public housing estates are usually very crowded. So neighbours can be easily disturbed by dogs barking. Dog droppings left on the floor also cause hygiene problems. I live in a public estate, and I rarely find a responsible owner who cleans up after his or her dog. I don't think imposing a fine on these owners will work, either. They will just do it secretly.

Public housing is meant for people who cannot afford to live in a private apartment. It is a kind of social welfare. Thus, people who enjoy this benefit must follow the rules stated on the lease, even if this means giving up their right to own a pet.

Perhaps owning a dog is only for those who can afford private apartments.

Linda Ng Lai Yin, Kwai Fong