Letters to the Editor, July 26, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 July, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 July, 2015, 12:01am

Sometimes courts must get involved

Steven Pang suggests that Amos Yee was prosecuted for political reasons in Singapore ("Race should not be unthinkingly trotted out to gag free speech", July 20).

He says there are many web pages accessible in Singapore that are more obscene than the cartoon Yee created of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

Should Singapore's strict laws against racial and religious bigotry come into force only when a riot breaks out?

Yee knew he was breaking them with his video as well as with his subsequent refusal to comply with the court's ruling.

Putting juvenile delinquents as well as religious bigots on trial or on restriction order in the most extreme of cases is par for the course not just in Singapore, but other democracies as well.

Yet somehow, Yee is the only lucky one who has enjoyed the attention of so-called "human rights activists", who have not studied the city state's multicultural nuances and other constraints in depth.

Is it because the young man happened to criticise Lee Kuan Yew, the scourge of so many "liberals" worldwide?

Mr Pang must surely have encountered many colourful tirades against Singapore's leaders and the government in cyberspace.

Have these "rebels" been threatened with a legal suit, other than a few who repeatedly make sensational attacks against the integrity of government leaders?

Surely democracy and freedom of speech cannot be about the liberty to say anything one wishes without repercussions?

The key difference between pornography comprising consenting salaried adults and Yee's obscene image of two deceased individuals who are incapable of defending themselves is the former's intention to titillate and the latter's goal to denigrate.

The trustees of the late Lee Kuan Yew should have the right to take legal action in this case.

I trust that Mr Pang can learn something from the parting shot of his letter that "we should not confuse racial and religious minefields with political minefields".

John Chan, Singapore

Ban people who fail to turn up

There are insufficient sports facilities in Hong Kong.

My friend and I have not been able to book a badminton court for the past few months. This is a problem that the Leisure and Cultural Services Department should be looking into and dealing with.

First of all, everyone must be a responsible user of these limited facilities.

That means we must all obey the rules governing the use of facilities.

Those people who have made a booking, for example, of a badminton court but they don't show up, should be blacklisted.

They should be told they will not be allowed to make a further booking for a months or even a year.

Furthermore, during school holidays schools should allow students to use their sports facilities for free. This would hopefully encourage more students to exercise.

Where a government sports centre is not proving popular, it should be renovated so that it can attract more users.

For example, if squash courts are not proving popular at one facility they could be turned into badminton courts.

I hope the department will take note of my suggestions.

Miki Cheng Mei-ki, Wong Tai Sin

Overseas schooling not for everyone

Some parents who have lost confidence with the Hong Kong education system send their children overseas to study.

They may be as young as 11 or 12 when they go abroad.

The parents are disillusioned with Hong Kong's exam-oriented system.

The hope is that being in schools in another country can help to broaden their horizons as they are exposed to other cultures.

They can see what is happening outside Hong Kong. They are seen as being offered a more rounded education and therefore acquire a more global perspective. Integrating with foreign students can help them in their careers when they have to integrate with foreigners in the workplace. Too often students who stay here are overdependent on their parents.

They expect their mothers and fathers to do everything for them. Therefore, Hong Kong teens are often accused of not being independent.

By contrast, if they are studying abroad they have to face and solve problems themselves.

However, there is a downside as not all young Hongkongers can adapt to studying abroad.

They feel alienated in a completely unfamiliar environment and they may struggle with the language if it is an English-speaking country.

If they are very homesick it can affect their academic performance.

There has been a significant increase in the number of young Hongkongers who are sent abroad for their education. And this indicates that there are flaws in the local education system.

Local schools, with their rote learning, are losing their competitive edge. There is too much emphasis on exams and spoon-feeding. By comparison, in many foreign schools youngsters can learn a wide variety of skills, including teamwork and decision-making.

I think whether or not studying abroad is right for a young person will depend on each student.

Some will adapt easily to the transition and others will not and would be better off staying here for their schooling.

Nicole Ng, Lai Chi Kok

Give elderly high-tech helping hand

I do not think I am mistaken in saying that when it comes to citizens' knowledge of computers and other high-tech gadgets, Hong Kong has fallen behind Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

This is especially the case with elderly people.

One reasons may be the lack of suitably qualified computer technicians and firms that can do repairs. And also there are so many different formats on the market.

Many people encounter problems when they have bought a computer and then try to use it. Most pensioners lack the necessary knowledge.

Computer suppliers could help here with social enterprise initiatives.

They could offer advice to the elderly as part of their corporate social responsibility.

They have to recognise that their role is not just about doing business and advertising their products.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong

Fewer traders thanks to new visa policy

I believe the policy of restricting Shenzhen residents to visits to Hong Kong once a week was the best way to deal with the problem of parallel trading.

Many local residents living near the border blamed these traders for shortages of essential goods that led to demonstrations against their activities.

Most of the parallel traders from Shenzhen used multiple-entry visas and did not even stay overnight in Hong Kong. They just came here, bought a lot of household products, then headed back over the border.

The worst-affected areas are less crowded and we are not seeing these protests now.

With the influx of traders new pharmacies appeared so we should now see fewer of them. Eventually this visa policy which was introduced in April will be successful.

Chan Tin-nga, Fanling