Letters to the Editor, April 29, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 5:19pm

Exam stress harms mental well-being

I refer to the article, "Chinese school likened to 'cell block' after pupils jump to their deaths" (April 22).

Having experienced the "single-plank bridge" college entrance examination in mainland China - so called because it was seen as the only pathway to a promising career - years ago, I am not surprised at the school installing bars on windows and balconies, reportedly to deter stressed-out students taking their own lives. What I feel is sadness and deep concern.

More than 20 years after China embarked on its education reform, teaching methods have diversified, and are adapting to the fast-developing digital age. However, the long-held belief that success in the college entrance examination determines how far a young person can go in life hasn't changed, especially for those from rural China who see a university education as a life-changing opportunity.

Under the pressure of family, school and the wider society, high school students focus more on how to improve exam scores than on their whole-person development.

In their teenage years, when life should be colourful, they are confined to classrooms in school and after-class tutoring centres, even during the holidays.

The psychological well-being of Chinese teenagers is at risk. A 2005 report estimated that about 30 million teenagers under 17 were suffering different degrees of emotional disorders and behavioural problems. And the numbers have likely grown.

For China to become creative and vibrant, not only the bars in high schools but also the bars in people's hearts should be dismantled. We must give teenagers their youth back.

Kelly Hu, Kennedy Town


Reform plan protects the status quo

The present arrangements for electing Hong Kong's chief executive were designed to ensure that the tycoons called the shots on who got the job. As for the reform package for the 2017 election set out last Wednesday by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, this is designed to ensure that the tycoons call the shots on who gets the job.

Can you spot the difference? Of course you can't. There isn't any.

If this package goes ahead in 2017, what we can predict with certainty is that whoever gets elected as chief executive will be either a tycoon or a tycoon shoeshiner.

We can therefore further predict with certainty that he or she will do nothing to upset the vested interests of Hong Kong's rich and powerful. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

There will be populist gestures of the sort that have become a hallmark of Leung Chun-ying's administration. But don't expect any action to force the tycoons to dismantle the cartels and predatory business practices by which they brazenly profiteer on the backs of the rest of us.

And don't expect any action to end the obscenity of the trade-based constituencies and corporate voting, both as vital to the tycoons' stranglehold on political and economic power as their dominance over the chief executive election arrangements.

In short, the government's package for 2017 will change nothing as regards who really runs Hong Kong. The claim that it moves us forward in our democratic development is nonsense. And the "universal suffrage" on offer is about as genuine as a chocolate teapot.

If there is one thing worse than a government with no democratic mandate, it is a government with no democratic mandate but which claims to have one. And that's what we'll get if this package gets through the Legislative Council. The pan-democrats must make sure that it doesn't.

Graham Shaw, Tai Po


Keep resorts out of country park enclave

I am glad to hear that plans for five village houses in the Sai Kung country park enclave of Tai Long Wan have been rejected, but am concerned that developers still intend to turn a site in the area into a resort ("Tai Long Wan still under threat", April 20). This area is a natural wonder and any development into a resort is unacceptable.

A resort would bring lucrative profits as it could become a popular spot for weddings and holidays, but development would destroy the natural environment there. With large-scale construction work, bulldozers and trucks would move in, causing air, water and sound pollution and disrupting the area's ecological balance.

Having more visitors to the area would also upset the peace and quiet there. It is the government's responsibility to prevent this happening.

Jack Wong, Tsuen Wan


Spend on essentials, not submarines

The government of Pakistan has announced that it will buy eight submarines from China ("Beijing eyes 'bigger arms exports'", April 26). This decision reflects very badly on the intelligence and integrity of both governments for the following reasons.

First, it will cause unneeded animosity between Pakistan and India, already rivals and potential military antagonists.

Next, it militarises the Indian Ocean, which should be free of such dangerous tensions.

Thirdly, it reinforces the military-industrial complexes in both China and Pakistan, which undercuts civilian and peace-building efforts.

In addition, Pakistani admirals should know by now that anti-submarine weapons are highly advanced. Hidden undersea drones can easily be placed in submarine lanes and be programmed to explode when they detect a potential enemy.

The most serious objection to this purchase, however, is the need for the Pakistani people to be better housed and fed. Instead of providing these essentials, the government's decision will deprive citizens of their rights to a better, more peaceful and orderly life.

The decision reminds one of a well-known historical figure who, when told of her people's hunger, supposedly replied, "Well, let them eat cake". The Pakistani and Chinese governments are saying much the same in modern terms - "Well, let them eat torpedoes".

Jason Kuylein, Stanley


Think before we add to e-waste heap

According to a United Nations University report, a record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded last year .

And it estimated that the e-waste contained 2.2 million tonnes of harmful lead compounds, as well as mercury, cadmium and chromium, and 4,400 tonnes of ozone-gobbling chlorofluorocarbon gases.

Thus, such waste may pollute the river and land, causing the death of sea animals and leading to an increasing number of people getting cancer.

Almost 60 per cent of global e-waste were discarded kitchen, bathroom and laundry appliances. When people throw out things, most don't concern themselves with whether they can still be used.

If we have a sense of protecting the environment, I believe the amount of waste will be greatly reduced.

We should think before we dump. Consider if the items can still be used, repaired or given to someone in need.

Rachel Cheng Wing Yee, Tsing Yi