Letters to the Editor, September 04, 2015
Taxi drivers need to lift their game
I refer to the report ("Surge in complaints against Hong Kong taxi drivers as passengers complain of rudeness, overcharging and hire refusals", August 16).
The car-hailing app Uber has become more popular in Hong Kong because people are so dissatisfied with taxi services.
The main bones of contention are the refusal to hire and the attitude of some drivers.
Uber is a convenient and mostly reliable transportation service. Using the app is easy, with just a few key strokes.
The attitudes of the drivers are generally better than the taxi drivers. The latter have to rush to get as many fares as possible in a certain period of time and they can be rude. As an Uber passenger, sitting in a comfortable, clean car being driven by someone who is polite, is a better experience than travelling in a Hong Kong cab.
However, there are some disadvantages with Uber, such as concerns over the cars and their drivers having the right kind of insurance.
Also, if Uber has to cancel a booking, this can prove disruptive if, for example, you have a flight to catch. One advantage of the taxi is that you can walk out onto the street and find one fairly quickly.
They both have merit, but new technology is certainly presenting a challenge to the city's taxi operators.
Carmen Ip, Lam Tin
Trams not to blame for traffic jams
A retired planner has suggested scrapping the tram route from Central to Admiralty to ease serious traffic congestion in that area.
However, the trams are an iconic part of Hong Kong's public transport network. They are loved by Hongkongers and are an integral part of our heritage, carrying an average 180,000 passengers a day.
They are also hugely popular with tourists who especially enjoy taking them at night to enjoy the views of Hong Kong on the tram route, including Victoria Harbour, and do so at a leisurely pace.
For many citizens, they are a cheap and convenient mode of transport.
They are not the reason for the traffic congestion in the central business district, as some suggest. That is caused by the high volume of illegally parked vehicles.
The government should be revising the laws and punishments to curb illegal parking and the police should be doing more regular spot checks in an effort to crack down on this practice.
Chris Lam, Tseung Kwan O
Illegal parking: Are police really serious?
The police say they have stepped up issuing tickets for illegal parking.
The question that has to be asked is how long they can sustain this. I am not convinced by the claims the force is making. Even if there is a crackdown, once it is over, we will be back to normal.
I am sure you could go out with a camera and find 50 black spots every day where illegal parking is widespread.
The bottom line is, how diligent are our police officers when it comes to curbing illegal parking?
I have seen officers walk by vehicles in Lockhart Road (tour buses, private cars), Des Veoux Road West (lorries in front of shops), for example, which are parked illegally, without taking any action.
Joseph Lee, Quarry Bay
Voice of the people must be heard
Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad joined protesters on the streets of Kuala Lumpur last weekend and called on "people power" to remove the country's present prime minister Najib Razak.
I think those Malaysians who took to the streets have been very brave and they are voicing the views of many fellow citizens. They just want fair elections to be called so they can choose a new leader.
Some of these demonstrators were teenagers. I suspect many parents are not happy about their children joining such marches, but I hope they will eventually feel proud of what they are doing and of the courage and determination they are showing.
They just want things to be better in the country for their generation. Such protests are not without risk for the activists, but they are willing to accept this, which shows how dissatisfied they are with the government.
I hope the government is listening and will respond to the demands that have been made.
Haley Yu, Tseung Kwan O
Schools offer students lessons in life
I refer to the August 31 letter by Charity Ng Shuk-ling ("Mainstream schools still the best option").
Your correspondent said that taking youngsters out the mainstream education system is a less favourable choice and referred to the drawbacks of homeschooling. I agree that homeschooling will limit children's social skills.
Whole person education is important, not just focusing on a child's academic performance.
Students are offered so many extracurricular activities in schools, which can help them unleash their potential. Having a sound, all-round personality can give you a competitive edge when you are seeking a career.
Students who are homeschooled may lack good social and communication skills. In society, interaction with others is a crucial part of team work in an office.
Through communicating with peers at school, students can not only broaden their social circle, but also learn to interact with people who have varying personalities.
Group projects in mainstream schools can also provide students with opportunities to cooperate with each other and learn to compromise when dealing with people who have differing views.
They may exercise their critical thinking skills and, after discussing an issue with peers who have different ideas, seek a broader perspective.
Mainstream schools may put pressure on students, but in dealing with this head-on, youngsters can learn about stress management.
Schools are a miniature model of society. By having regular exams and tests, they learn to cope with the stresses and strains they will face in adult life. They learn to manage their own schedule. These are challenges young people will not face in a homeschooling environment.
I hope parents opting for homeschooling will think very carefully before making a final decision.
Sharon Lam, Ma On Shan
Tap English resources to improve skills
Germany's consul-general, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff, has urged Hongkongers to improve the proficiency of their English ("'If you are new to China, go to Hong Kong first'", August 28).
English is a mandatory subject in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.
However, a lot of people complain that many children can barely communicate in the language, even after 12 years of mandatory education.
I have read programme plans and performance reports from different secondary schools. A lot of them point out that students with a poor foundation in English are passive when learning the language.
Hong Kong has no lack of sources for us to learn English (such as online resources, English newspapers, English drama). What we have to do is make a first step.
However, a lot of students with a poor foundation have no motivation to learn the language.
Some are lazy and some of them are afraid they will make a mistake and they make no progress. We ought to face these obstacles.
At primary school, I had a classmate from the mainland. In his first Primary One English class he could not even answer a question from his English teacher. However, he refused to give up.
Instead, he forced himself to read English books regularly and joined different classes. Eventually he became a high-performing student at a school where English was the medium of instruction.
Many young Hongkongers may not be exposed to English in their daily lives, but they have to try and read English papers and listen to English-language radio as much as possible.
Henry Wong, Kennedy Town
Wrong to link morality and economics
Using a quantitative survey to steer people towards ethical behaviour, as outlined in Mark Peaker's letter ("Repression of gays hurts economies", August 29) leads to unsafe philosophical ground.
Enlightened morality cannot hinge on commercial outcomes.
Human equality is worth respecting because it is true and axiomatic, not because a defined group is perceived to out-contribute in the endless cycle of production, growth, consumption and yet more growth.
Those who are persuaded to acknowledge equality only by a survey that touts economic benefits are the kind of people who inevitably turn their gaze to groups that they believe under-contribute economically. Who, in such a dollar-obsessed society, would then protect those people?
That's why our morality always has to transcend economics.
Simon Osborne, Pok Fu Lam