Letters to the Editor, April 30, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 5:07pm

Teachers must end stand-off with school

Shame on the teacher who secretly recorded the Canadian International School board meeting with teachers ("Under-fire principal must stay, staff told", April 22).

Please understand that every parent loves and admires the teachers at this school: you are valued, and you are asked to give up this ridiculous fight and get on with your purpose of teaching these great students.

You teachers have been essentially the reason the Canadian International School of Hong Kong is such a great school. But you are missing an important point.

The school is privately owned. Its by-laws do not allow for democracy, mutiny, or any sort of override to the board's decisions. So, sorry, teachers are not going to get the new principal fired.

Granted, the new headmaster fired some beloved people over what is essentially a personality conflict. It was a rash decision, but he did it. Now get over it, because the school's leadership is not going to do anything but back their man.

Seemingly, everyone involved is asserting their righteousness, either by creating a noisy and disruptive fight or by not admitting error.

We have to look at the positives here.

Teachers are the building blocks of any school. Those at the Canadian International School enabled a great classroom environment, created fabulous lesson plans, taught with passion, and challenged some of the SAR's brightest kids. Thank you so much. You are appreciated and will always be remembered by students who credit you with their ambition and successes.

But some of those kids you taught are now looking at your behaviour and saying, please don't destroy a great school.

Authority has spoken; we're pretty much stuck with that.

The Canadian International School is still a great school, with its Ontario curriculum, International Baccalaureate opportunity, dedicated parents' association, superb facilities, unique heritage, and a history of fun and excellence.

Continue building on that. Simply trying to be more "right" than the school owners is only going to destroy everything you have worked for.

W. L. Fok, Lantau


Key issue of airspace limits side-stepped

The assistant director of civil aviation tells us that our airport will reach its upper limit of 68 air movements at the end of the year ("UK air traffic system not useful here", April 27).

However, my understanding is that the limit of our two runways is actually about 80 but this cannot be reached because the central government has not sanctioned northward routes for departing aircraft. This limitation has been in place since the days of planning and has shown no signs of being lifted.

Does it not seem to be unwise to commit HK$140 billion on what is still only hope that this decision will be reversed to allow for full use of three runways: about 120 movements?

It will, of course, conform with the degree of foresight applied before government projects proceed in Hong Kong. We already have a cruise ship terminal with no cruise ships, so why not a third runway with no aeroplanes?

SP Li, Lantau


Numbers don't add up in runway plan

Thomas Chu Ka Wa, writing on April 24, says that "we must recognise that the future demand on the airport is strong and can be met only with new hardware" ("No basis for opposing third runway"). He goes on to suggest that the arguments of the opponents do not stand up to scrutiny as "we can all analyse the data and information available".

Mr Chu's "strong demand" and "data available" springs from past figures and trends to project a hypothetical future. The same approach was adopted in 2004 in the Port 2020 study - a projection which showed that we needed an additional container terminal.

The reality is, of course, vastly different - our once great port has succumbed to external market realities which were even then apparent to anyone with a less partisan view - and it is indeed fortunate that sane heads prevailed in this rare case and we were not saddled with another costly white elephant infrastructure project.

Our airport business is particularly vulnerable. If the one-third that stems from transit passengers is replaced by direct flights through new air service agreements with mainland China - as is a distinct probability - then we lose this leg of the stool. If the one-third that derives from air cargo falls away upon the decline of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta - as is already happening - then another leg becomes shaky.

And to assume that a city of but 7 million people will of itself fill the gaps thus lost in aircraft movements is extreme folly.

There is indeed a role in analysis of past trends, but it is unwise to adopt this without due rigour. The Port 2020 study demonstrated how a failure to examine the wider picture could have led us into a very costly blunder indeed.

I have read the detailed official analysis and justification for the third runway, and it is this case made that does not stand up to the scrutiny that Mr Chu suggests we all take.

Clive Noffke, Lantau


A step is better than zero progress

I am glad to see that Hong Kong's future will be in the hands of five million eligible voters who could pick our next chief executive. Various surveys revealed that a majority of people support the present "pocket it first" political reform package. The government should heed the voice of the majority.

The proposal permits a maximum of 10 chief executive hopefuls to compete for a place on the ballot. Each has to obtain at least 120 votes from the nominating committee to qualify for consideration as a candidate. In this regard, it is a giant step towards genuine universal suffrage.

Therefore, I appeal to those who have been opposing the reform package to calm down, and think reasonably and practically. It is a straight and simple rule that making progress is definitely better than staying put.

Barry Kwok Tak Ming, Wong Tai Sin


Unionist lawmakers do too little

Mark Peaker writes of the Federation of Students asking "What does it stand for?" ("Pan-dems should heed public interest", April 27) He also suggests that the pan-democrats could be guilty of supporting the federation for their own selfish interests. I think he hit the nail right on the head.

Of greater interest is the situation of the Federation of Trade Unions, whose whole reason for being should be the representation of workers in the efforts to improve their conditions of employment.

Yet, I constantly see these supposed workers' representatives being flag-waving, banner-carrying and fist-clenching democracy protesters whilst pocketing fat salaries as Legislative Council members. I have yet to see or read of any similar actions on behalf of the workers.

Workers should vote them out of their Legco sinecure. Union leaders' sole remuneration and/or reward should be tied to the average monthly salary and conditions of their members' contracts. Only then will we witness campaigns for five-day work weeks of 40 hours - surely a right in this day and age, in this very rich city built by all of its workers.

John Charleston, Tuen Mun


Students could have stayed in Nepal to help

I am disappointed that the Hong Kong medical students who had been on an medical exchange in Nepal decided to return to Hong Kong, instead of staying in Nepal to offer their assistance to local authorities ("HK man killed in Nepal earthquake", April 29).

There are so many wounded who need attention and medical resources will be stretched. These medical students could have learned from the experience.

Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho


The art of doing nothing in Hong Kong

I am confused by the presence of a silver hatchback that has been parked in a lay-by half way up Peak Road. As it has been there for three months, I am wondering if it is some kind of art-in-the-community project, showing the slow decay of man's material processions? Or has it been abandoned?

If it is the former, could we have the title, artist's name and, as it is Hong Kong, a price tag? If it is the latter, can someone do something about it, if for no other reason than to stop the civil servants who are chauffeured past in their AM plated cars from feeling any kind of guilt that may have to do with their responsibility to act?

Gareth Jones, Sheung Wan