Letters to the Editor, September 08, 2015
Walking on escalators is not that risky
I refer to the letter by Lam Cheuk-see suggesting employment of "escalator monitors" and publicity campaigns to educate the public not to walk on MTR escalators before "more escalator accidents happen" ("How to stop escalating problem", September 6).
I concede that there may theoretically be a very marginal increased risk to safety in walking on escalators but have there in fact been many (any?) accidents directly attributable to or made more severe as a result of walking on escalators?
If in fact there is a significant safety concern - and I'm very doubtful - then how does the MTR Corporation (managers of the Shenzhen mass transit system) explain why its announcements in Shenzhen ask the public to stand to the side on escalators to allow passage for walking?
Possibly the MTRC's concern in Hong Kong is to address the more litigious climate here rather than any serious intent to deter passengers from walking and thereby improving passenger flow?
I suggest that the risk of accidents is much more significantly increased by the gross under-provision of escalators at many of our busiest stations (for example, Kowloon Tong), resulting in often heavily-laden passengers rushing to get to the escalators.
Doug Miller, Tai Po
Vulnerable teens must get more help
A BBC report referred to the first day back at school at the beginning of September in Japan, as a most deadly day.
Some teenagers dread returning to school and take their own lives instead before the term even gets started.
The number of suicides for Japanese youngsters up to the age of 18 is high on September 1.
Suicide rates in that country are among the highest in the world [for a developed nation].
With so many Japanese teens taking their own lives because they cannot bear to go to school, it is clear that there is a serious problem.
The Japanese government has to recognise this and it has to act decisively. It must have more education to help students learn to value their lives. Hopefully, then, the suicide rate will drop.
Katie Sze, Tseung Kwan O
Tight checks needed for home pupils
Homeschooling is not allowed [in almost all cases] by law in Germany.
However, there is a more flexible approach in Hong Kong. I think there are reasons why some jurisdictions have so little tolerance for it.
Supporters of it argue that homeschooled children get more attention due to the one-to-one learning process.
There may be cases where the homeschooled child outperforms peers from school. But what they miss is socialisation.
Socialisation occurs in schools. Children can learn how to interact, share and compromise with others. There are many social interactions and opportunities that home-schooling cannot provide.
Furthermore, the unforgettable experiences and memories of participating in a school's activities are precious. Besides missing the "secondary school experience", they lose the chance to become an alumni.
Many parents are under the impression that mainstream schools are just places for cramming. This is not the case as there are also extracurricular activities letting children develop their interests and critical thinking.
Homeschooled children may be more confident, because they do not face the problems pupils encounter in schools, for instance, bullying and negative comparisons with other students.
But those setbacks are what children need to overcome to be stronger and learn to prepare for being part of society.
Most universities require exam grades for admission. Universities in this city will look at the grades achieved in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.
Teens involved in homeschooling may be restricted in what they can study in the Diploma of Secondary Education. For example, for some science subjects, you must spend some time in a laboratory.
Homeschooling may be OK for preschool and at primary level. But I do not think it can adequately handle the tight schedule faced at senior level where students gain from a formal learning schedule. Mainstream schools can offer support to pupils with all their facilities and professionally trained teachers.
In Hong Kong I believe that formal standards, guides and strict regulations are necessary for homeschooling.
The education authorities should request reports from homeschooled children regularly to assess and control their learning process.
Rico Man Ho-lam, Ma On Shan
Why HK must have a new incinerator
I refer to the letter by Yoyo Tang Wing-tung ("Building more landfills never an option", August 27).
Your correspondent referred to the various concerns when building an incinerator. I think there are advantages and disadvantages.
The possible air pollution is undeniably the chief concern expressed by critics. Many citizens worry about the emission of air pollutants when the waste is being burned.
Also, there will have to be reclamation to locate the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau. Conservationists have said this could destroy natural habitats, for example, with dredging disrupting the marine ecosystem.
While I can appreciate these drawbacks, it has some benefits.
With advanced technology, a modern incinerator can convert trash into energy.
Electricity produced from the heat can be used for the daily operation of the incinerator and also supply thousands of homes.
This can lead to less fossil fuel being burned.
Also, the incinerator will also help to substantially reduce the large volumes of waste that end up in our landfills every day. This is important given that our landfills are nearing capacity.
Opponents emphasise the importance of reducing waste at source. This matters, but to get everyone doing this will take time.
I think this new incinerator is needed in Hong Kong and the environmental impact will be reduced with the use of advanced technology.
Also, all citizens need to try to reduce the volumes of waste they generate at home if we are to address our serious waste problem in the long term.
Only with the concerted effort of the government and every Hongkonger can we combat our waste woes.
Daisy Li, Sha Tin
Good case for doubling allowance
I refer to the letter by Dr B. K. Avasthi ("Elderly folk deserve bigger allowance", August 24).
The cost of living in Hong Kong is extremely high. It is plain that the Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,390 is not enough to get by and I agree with your correspondent that it should be doubled.
You often see elderly residents collecting discarded material on the street, such as newspapers, aluminium cans and cardboard, which they will sell to recycling contractors.
They do this to supplement their meagre incomes.
Many of them lead miserable lives. The government should not turn a blind eye to their plight.
Some elderly residents do not get any help from their grown-up children.
They may be almost entirely dependent on the Old Age Living Allowance, which makes it difficult for them to buy daily necessities.
This is especially difficult for those who are not eligible for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. If the allowance is doubled, this will ease their plight a little bit.
Of course, doubling it will increase the financial burden faced by the government, but it is worth doing this.
We must remember that Hong Kong is a prosperous city, thanks in part to the efforts they made during their working lives.
We should not be penny-pinching, but should try to help them out.
Winnie Cheung, Sha Tin
Sabre rattling by Beijing not constructive
I refer to the report "China's massive display of military might rattles nerves of Taiwan, already wary of Beijing's aims" (September 5).
China showed off its military hardware during a parade on September 3. Some commentators expressed concern that Beijing might now threaten Taiwan.
If the central government were to do so, I would be opposed to it.
I believe that Taiwan should remain independent if it wishes to. After all, it is completely different from the mainland, not being ruled by a party which professes to be communist. I don't think it should be reunited with China.
Also, it is wrong for a country to threaten other people with its military power. This is not a civilised approach to take.
Nobody gains from arms races. Both China and Taiwan have enjoyed peace for a number of years and that is how it should remain.
Beijing should avoid any provocative acts. I do not think this parade was very helpful.
Beijing should do all it can to prevent war breaking out with any neighbours including Taiwan.
Brian Lau, Tseung Kwan O