Letters to the Editor, May 4, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 1:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 1:00am

HK has role to play in climate change fight

With the publication of Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything last year, people around the world have come to the realisation that combating climate change is an issue too important to be left in the hands of the politicians.

Following the People's Climate March in New York last September, a global divestment campaign launched by grass-roots organisation 350.org is gaining traction worldwide. Stanford University and Glasgow University have since committed themselves to divesting from the fossil fuel industry in the next five years. Students around the world - notably those at Harvard and Oxford - are urging their universities to do likewise.

The campaign is also targeting the world's two largest health charity funds - the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust - to get them to sell their investments in the fossil fuel companies.

My friends and I have recently registered the Hong Kong chapter of 350.org During a joint seminar of the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University convocations, an open letter was submitted to the alumni of the two universities, calling on them to join the campaign.

While I strongly support our fight for true universal suffrage, I sincerely hope that people in Hong Kong could also rise above the local scene, and contribute to humanity's battle against catastrophic climate change - a fight which we cannot afford to lose.

Eddy Lee, Pok Fu Lam


English exam papers must be consistent

I couldn't agree more with your correspondent Kendra Ip (DSE English paper asks too much of local students", April 29) regarding the reading paper component of the English-language examination. I had the same difficulty comprehending the open-ended questions which were mostly ambiguous and open to all sorts of interpretation.

This has been the pattern with the paper ever since the new format of the examination was implemented in 2011. The excerpt from Stephen Fry's autobiography that was used in last year's exam posed a similar dilemma for students who were far removed from the social complexities and niceties of a different culture.

Yes, we appreciate the need for students to be exposed to a wide variety of reading, but then the reading passages were far beyond the scope of a vast majority of local students. I suspect even final-year university students would find the material over their heads.

What is even more intriguing is that the paper setters for the other three components - writing; listening and integrated skills; and speaking - seem to show more sensitivity to local students' needs and expectations. The reading paper material and questions have been and continue to be far more challenging compared to the other three components.

Do the curriculum committee members and moderators of these papers meet to standardise the papers so that all the papers are set at the right level of difficulty? The same student takes the examination though the subject officers for the papers may come from different areas of expertise.

Vijay Nair, Tseung Kwan O


Reading is key to language learning

Ms Kendra Ip thinks that the English reading paper of the Diploma of Secondary Education exam was too difficult for Hong Kong students (DSE English paper asks too much of local students", April 29), in part because they use foreign material that students here find hard to understand.

I am sure Ms Ip is a good teacher who has her students' interests at heart. But may I ask her, do her students take time to read in English?

Reading more and more widely holds the key to learning English successfully. That's common sense. Without reading, how can we acquire a good vocabulary?

Hong Kong has no lack of English-language magazines and newspapers, including the South China Morning Post. Students can subscribe to them, usually at a discounted rate, or borrow them from the library.

The problem is simply that some students wouldn't touch an English-language newspaper, because they think it is dull and/or difficult. Such an attitude does not help students to improve their English.

Yes, no doubt it is not easy for non-native English speakers to read an English newspaper. Still, students have to try. If they can keep doing it, it will get easier and, one day, no passage will pose any great difficulty.

Compared with the native speakers, we started late. But that must not mean we give up the race. We may not win it in the end, but we won't be a total loser, either - at least we would have laid a solid foundation for ourselves.

I wish Ms Ip can proudly say that her students love reading in English.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town


Full version of HBO series is available

I refer to the letter by Piers Bennett regarding the broadcast of Season Five of Game of Thrones on Now TV ("Now TV kills the thrill of drama series", April 18).

As a regional broadcaster, HBO Asia brings the best of Hollywood's premium blockbuster movies and originally produced programmes to viewers across Asia including Hong Kong.

The version of the Game of Thrones episodes that Mr Bennett watched on the HBO channel was a regional feed with edits complying with the regulations of all the relevant broadcast territories in Asia, including Hong Kong, and which also maintains sensitivity to viewers across all play times.

HBO Asia has made available a full version of each episode of Season Five to Now TV subscribers through HBO On Demand (with password control for younger viewers) and HBO GO (internet service). HBO On Demand and HBO Go services are free for Now TV's HBO Super Pak and Movie Pack One subscribers in Hong Kong.

We thank Mr Bennett for his comments and we hope that he will continue to enjoy the remaining season of the exciting Game of Thrones on HBO.

Lorraine Leung, group communications, PCCW


HK cannot follow Taiwan's lead

Alex Lo is an experienced journalist and his column is frequently funny. But he must sometimes show some realism.

He writes that the "glossing over" between mainland China and Taiwan is the "essence of diplomacy" ("Why HK should follow Taiwan's example", April 30). Does he not realise that Taiwan has a government independent of mainland China's and that it has an active military backer with whom China has to tread carefully? Its name is the USA.

Where is the similarity with Hong Kong where the mainland does not need to do any "glossing", because all the "glossing over" is done by our own administration? Beijing refuses to talk with the major political party in Hong Kong with the greatest electoral base. It feels no need as it is the "boss" here.

Let's forget the hypocrisy and, as Alex might otherwise suggest, accept another appointed chief executive and use the balloting money for the health services.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai


Let investors enter, but regulate them

China is facing a dilemma: if the government eases its excessive regulation of the financial sector, the economy may become more fragile.

The Chinese government is expected to keep its restrictions on the buying of high-yield, high-risk investment products by Chinese firms.

The mainland and Hong Kong should deepen their cooperation, through allowing mainland investors to invest here. But some regulations are necessary.

First, investors should face some entry barriers with regards to the size of the investment, so as to ensure they are capable of taking the risks.

Second, there should be a contingency plan that freezes fund transfer between Hong Kong and the mainland in the event of a financial crisis.

Jonathan Yu Hong Jun, Kowloon City


Use fewer paper towels in public toilets

If someone at MTR Corp thought using hand towels in rolls at the public washrooms was saving money and environmentally friendly, that someone must be enjoying his/her office so much that the real situation is never inspected.

In public washrooms where single-sheet paper towels are dispensed, I haven't seen anyone taking more than three sheets. Public servants must put their feet and common sense to work.

Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long