Letters to the Editor, August 24, 2015
No need for costly student activities
In a recent article, a civil society group called for more help to allow children from low- income families to join more extracurricular activities ("Education gap threatens poor children", August 10).
I think Hong Kong parents have a perception that these activities, which often include overseas travel, can widen their children's horizons. I agree with this - up to a point; this is not the only way to help children grow into well-rounded individuals.
Often when we focus on problems, we see more problems. But if we focus on opportunities, we open ourselves to other possibilities. There are many voluntary activities that can strengthen a child's sense of belonging to society, and many extracurricular classes organised by charities are free of charge and can help children discover their own talents.
Even if the children can only afford to visit the public library, as was the case for one family mentioned in the article, we know reading can impart moral values and promote creativity.
Moreover, is it really good to stress the concepts of rich and poor families in children's minds? Doing so may encourage some children from the poorer families to blame their family circumstances when they don't get good grades, instead of looking at how they can improve.
In fact, we should make it a point to tell children from poorer families that being poor or rich should not make a huge difference for them. We should affirm their talent and potential and tell them that we believe that, with determination and toughness, they can achieve their dreams.
Children have courage, determination, commitment, and plenty of heart, talent and guts. I don't want to see impoverished children slowly lose their confidence and their gifts just because they come from poor families.
We must believe in our children even if we are poor. Believe me, that would make a huge difference for our beloved children.
Gigi Wong, Tai Po
Rubbish bins vital to keep parks clean
Where have all the rubbish bins gone?
I am a regular morning walker in and around the Quarry Bay country park area, including Sir Cecil's Ride and Mount Parker Road, and have been alarmed and disappointed by the recent disappearance of many of the litter bins that were previously in place.
Given the proximity to the built-up urban area, these park areas are very well used throughout the year. Proper arrangements for collecting rubbish are vital to maintain their visual and aesthetic quality. There is also a noticeable increase in the number of dog owners walking their pets here, as well.
I would urge the relevant government departments to reinstate these bins as soon as possible and, at the same time, consider placing some additional bins for receiving dog faeces, which are also becoming an issue.
Roger Nissim, North Point
Time to tackle polluting cooking fumes
I refer to the report "Mong Kok cooks up a pollution problem" (August 17).
Cooking fumes from roadside restaurants have been found to be a source of air pollution. For too long, people do not consider it a source of pollution and do not think it is an issue of concern.
Even the government does not pay much attention to the issue.
We now know otherwise. A study by a University of Science and Technology chemical engineer has found that restaurants released a significant amount of organic particulate matter. Specifically, the study found that cooking-related organic particulates make up 40 per cent of PM1 (that is, particulates smaller than one micron in diameter) compared with 60 per cent from traffic.
I think this calls for attention from not only the government, but also the public.
The government should implement measures to tackle this problem, such as regulating all the small and medium-sized roadside food businesses, requiring them to install proper emissions control systems and ventilation systems.
The Environmental Protection Department must acknowledge the problem.
Amy Ng, Tseung Kwan O
Scouts did not complain about 'plight'
I am a leader trainer with the Scout Association of Hong Kong and attended the recent World Scout Jamboree in Japan as part of the international service team.
While I agree with some of Yonden Lhatoo's points in his article about the Scouts stranded in a Taiwanese airport ("Let's not turn Hong Kong's young into namby-pamby kids", August 14), I feel some clarification is needed.
First, some background: the Scouts in question (girls as well as boys, by the way) were returning from 12 days of challenging and character-building activities at the world jamboree, a gathering of over 40,000 Scouts and leaders from all over the world, in Yamaguchi, Japan.
Held in temperatures of well over 40 degrees Celsius, the event saw the Scouts sleeping in tents, cooking all their own meals, washing up and keeping their camp clean.
Second, note that none of the comments about their "plight" (while they were stranded at the airport) came from the Scouts! Faced with the delay in Taiwan, they did what they had to do.
They slept on the floor using cardboard to gain warmth in the air conditioning and made do with whatever food was available, all without any complaining. They just got on with it as they were prepared to face any challenge.
Blame the overprotective parents, blame the caring relatives and friends, blame other interested but uninvolved parties, but do not paint the Scouts with the same brush.
And, by the way, since Mr Lhatoo had such a strong upbringing, and Scouting could always use more role models, I would encourage him (and any other interested parties) to contact the Scout Association to donate a few hours a week to help the youth of Hong Kong to be "tougher" through Scouting.
Neil Bailey, Scout Association of Hong Kong
Elderly folk deserve bigger allowance
I appreciate the initiative taken by the Hong Kong government two years ago to provide an Old Age Living Allowance, a flat rate of HK$2,200 (now increased to HK$2,390), to all those aged 65 and above who need financial assistance, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. This has certainly improved the quality of their life.
In the budget speech this year, the government proposed to provide an extra allowance to recipients, equal to two months of the allowance.
Keeping in mind the high cost of living in Hong Kong, the allowance should be doubled. It should be benchmarked against inflation so that the elderly can maintain their living standards.
Let all Hong Kong senior residents enjoy a hassle-free "golden age". After all, how many more years are they going to live? Let them be happy before they leave this world.
Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay
Trams are the greener option for Hong Kong
The proposal to scrap a part of the Hong Kong tram service on Hong Kong Island is ridiculous ("Locals rail against plan to scrap trams", August 21).
The reason given for the suggestion was to reduce traffic congestion, because bulky tram stations and the trams themselves, which travel slowly, occupy multiple lanes on the road. But the tram service is not the culprit; the stream of private cars and messy bus lines are.
Our trams carry 180,000 passengers a day, and its safety is one of the best. They also emit few pollutants, keeping in line with the government's drive to clean up the environment. There are more perks to keeping the tram than phasing it out.
Without the trams, some of those who live and work in Central or Admiralty will be forced to take the bus or use private cars, which all emit air pollutants. This will undermine our aim for an environmentally friendlier society.
Hong Kong trams have served us for more than a century. They are so unique that riding one has become a must-do for tourists. They should not be removed.
Raymond Lok, Tseung Kwan O
Democracy fighters are playing politics
Radicals who resorted to dirty politics and violated the law in their fight for "true democracy" now accuse law enforcers of "political" persecution. Isn't this a self-accusation? Do they feel they alone can "manipulate politics" to exempt themselves from prosecution for their violation of law and order?
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong