Letters to the Editor, April 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 April, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 April, 2015, 12:01am

Unpleasant trips to columbariums

Every year during Ching Ming Festival we experience in Hong Kong the same serious congestion as citizens flock to cemeteries and columbariums.

There are long queues for public transport and at the venues for people just to lay down a bunch of flowers at the niche shelf of the columbarium. The halls with the niches become dangerously crowded and filled with incense smoke. At the busiest times during the festival they pose a threat to public safety. My advice to people would be not to make to trip to a columbarium at this time of the year.

Hong Kong is such a wealthy city, but due to a shortage of land the demand for more niche places for our relatives which cannot be met and no proper planning has gone into trying to deal with this problem.

As a result there are thousands of niches in unauthorised columbariums. They are often located in crowded residential districts and may pose fire risk. There are often so many niches crammed together in such a limited space that it is difficult to pay your respects to relatives in comfort.

You can't spend some quite time with your children telling stories about their grandma or grandpa. And yet for many of us this is only place where we can leave our relatives' ashes and in a modern city like Hong Kong this is just wrong.

Surely better ways can be found to ensure that there are columbariums and that they are built legally to adequate standards, providing sufficient room for visitors.

F. K. Hui, Yuen Long

Country parks can yield housing land

Lack of land supply is one of the biggest issues in Hong Kong which the government needs to tackle urgently.

Some areas in country parks should be released in light of the difficulties people have in buying flats. Lack of supply for housing does not mean that there is no more developable land in the city. Hong Kong uses 17 per cent of its developable land for housing, compared to Singapore which uses 34 per cent.

In Hong Kong, there are 24 country parks, covering about 43,500 hectares, or about 435 square kilometres, of land. So there is quite a lot of space covered by rural areas which can be put to better use.

It is more important to ensure people have a stable livelihood than just having lots of country parks. It would be easier for people to appreciate the beauty of nature once they have brighter prospects.

If parts of country parks are released, they can be used to build affordable housing for Hong Kong citizens. Hopefully, property prices would eventually drop to reasonable levels and then more residents could buy decent housing. There are always conflicts between development and environmental protection and the government must strike a balance by evaluating the best areas to be used and consulting experts to minimise damage caused.

Annie Mak, Kwun Tong

Avoid herd mentality of tuition classes

Most students in Hong Kong take tuition classes but is this really necessary? Are there any advantages and disadvantages to learning?

I don't think it is essential to sign up for these classes. For some students they are boring and not suitable for them. Some people think the classes can offer a deeper understanding of the subject and lead to a better result. Others think that without the extra help, students can be frustrated at school and the tuition can boost confidence.

There really are some advantages to taking the classes. You may struggle with a particular subject and find you are more confident discussing it after taking tuition classes. Also, they offer more exercises which helps students.

But what about the disadvantages of these tuition colleges?

Facing extra lessons after school can be stressful and the loss of recreation time to relax can lead to mental health problems. Students can also become too reliant on the tuition teacher and not concentrate in regular class. It's a bad habit and a lot of time is wasted in school.

Whether to take tuition classes is up to the individual. If they have to force themselves to join a tuition college, it may not be such a good idea.

Cherry Yau, Yau Yat Chuen 

Beware the online trap for teenagers

With more advanced technology, new generations are more likely to be addicted to the internet.

This is a problem we should face since it greatly affects teenagers' mental, physical and social well-being.

To start with, internet addiction usually appears among teenagers and is a negative influence on their mental health. Teenagers spending far too much time online are not grounded in reality. Their lives are filled with video games instead of the real world.

Online pastimes also have an adverse effect on teenagers' physical health, with too much time spent sitting in front of a computer without exercising. The internet obsession minimises a teenager's social circle and affects their social well-being. The internet is a valuable learning tool but it must be used wisely. Teenagers should limit their online time and find other interests such as reading and travelling. Discover the fun of having time with family and friends.

Kelly Leung, Lam Tin 

Jin's death severs link to imperial past

The death of Jin Youzhi, 96, the last surviving sibling of Chinese emperor Henry Pu Yi, marks the end of China's imperial family, according to The New York Times.

Despite the unspeakable atrocities during the Cultural Revolution, Mr Jin was afforded special protection as a member of the imperial family under premier Zhou Enlai.

A Chinese history professor I once knew regaled his class with recollections and reflections of China in the 1920s, when he became acquainted with Mao Zedong and Sun Yat-sen. Like Jin Youzhi, he would recall the rise of Mao and Zhou following the Chinese communist revolution of 1949.

Unlikely, Mr Jin had little premonition of the further repressive human-rights policies which would befall the Chinese people after the death of Mao in 1976.

Having witnessed the suffering which ravaged the country the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, he would live to see the last days of British Hong Kong and the brutal crackdown on dissent under Xi Jinping.

As historian Jia Yinghua put it, "His death marks the end of an era in Chinese history."

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US

Food trucks dish up a winning recipe

The government should introduce food trucks because they can promote traditional local food in Hong Kong and provide opportunities for people to operate a business.

Although there is different local food in Hong Kong, eateries are scattered in different places and are difficult for tourists to find. Therefore, the food trucks provide an opportunity for tourists to taste a variety of local food in one place in a short period of time. They can learn of the history of the food and will spread the word to others.

The move also provides opportunities for people to set up a food outlet, which is otherwise difficult because of high rents.

Hygiene shouldn't be a problem if the government lays out and implements high standards. Rule-breakers should be punished and banned from operating.

Kristy Li Xiao-ting, Kowloon Tong