Letters to the Editor, September 15, 2015
Government should replace all water pipes
Last month blood tests revealed high levels of lead in more children and breastfeeding women.
I have had difficulty comprehending the full scale of the water contamination at some estates in Hong Kong.
Obviously, residents are concerned about the possible health impact of contamination from lead found in water, including on the major organs of the body.
I think the government has done a very good job so far in dealing with this problem, but it has to go further to allay the fears felt by residents at the affected estates.
They need to feel reassured that the health risk has been cleared up, and not just at estates, but also at schools where lead was found in water and where that level exceeded levels that are considered to be safe by the World Health Organisation.
I think the government should agree to change all water pipes at public housing estates in Hong Kong and at schools.
I appreciate that this will prove to be very costly, but I think this is something that the administration has to do.
It must minimise the risk posed to citizens from lead. Also, with its tests and investigation, it must keep residents informed about any developments.
With the right measures in place, fewer people will be exposed to risk of lead poisoning.
Cheng Po-wing, Tsuen Wan
We must try to cut back on festival waste
As Mid-Autumn Festival is around the corner, people will be planning to buy products associated with the festival, such as mooncakes.
In a survey released this year, the group Green Power estimated that 1.58 million mooncakes were wasted last year.
There will come a day when our landfills have reached capacity. And landfills have many unpleasant side-effects, such as contaminating surface and ground water. They can also lead to air pollution.
Although the government has made the decision to build a single, large incinerator, this does not offer a lasting solution.
Also, incinerators can bring about air and water pollution.
What is needed in the long term is for Hong Kong citizens to change their lifestyles.
They need to strictly follow the principles of the 3Rs - recycle, reuse and reduce. This will reduce the pressure that is being put on our landfills, with less refuse going into them.
During this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, they should think twice before purchasing mooncakes and ensure that no extra mooncakes are left over and then discarded in our landfills.
Also, if they are using lanterns and also giving them as gifts, they should buy ones that are made of paper rather than plastic.
The government should also support measures which get the public to be less wasteful.
Chan Yuen-yi, Tseung Kwan O
Relax asylum seeker policy in Hong Kong
I refer to the report ("Syrian in HK seeks asylum status", September 9).
I agree with those people who say that the Hong Kong government's policy regarding refugees and asylum seekers is too restrictive. I think officials should regard the situation regarding this Syrian as a special case.
It needs to have a more relaxed policy with regard to asylum seekers. The thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong have great difficulty getting their claims regarded as bona fide.
While their application is being considered, they are not allowed to work and so through no fault of their own, they are considered to be a burden to society.
Each refugee receives a monthly housing allowance of HK$1,500 and HK$1,200 in food vouchers. These sums are not enough to provide for even basic needs in a city as expensive as Hong Kong.
Critics say these small sums are designed to try and stop more asylum seekers from coming here.
It is clear that the government's existing policy regarding refugees is unfair and must be relaxed.
Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have seen Syrian refugees as a special case and allowed many of them in.
In the US and Europe a similar policy is being adopted, for example, in the UK, Germany and France, so Hong Kong should do the same.
The Hong Kong government has to recognise the serious problems that the Syrian refugees are facing with the civil war in their country.
Kristie Ko, Tseung Kwan O
Pity young people avoid languages
In the past few years, there has been a drop in the number of secondary school students choosing a language as one of their elective subjects.
If this trend continues, then I think it is a cause for concern in our society.
Many young people want promising careers which they hope will be financially rewarding.
In Hong Kong, there is a great deal of prestige attached to certain professions, such as the business sector and medicine.
Young people gravitate towards subjects that will help them get into these professions.
Lamentably, they often avoid a subject like Chinese literature. They may also steer clear of Chinese history. This is a shame. They do not seem to appreciate how rewarding these subjects can be and how much they could learn from studying them.
For example, in history, they would learn about filial piety, a traditional Chinese notion, which reminds us of the significance of being respectful and obedient towards the elder generations, not merely to our parents.
They can learn the ideas and principles behind these important moral ideas.
If fewer young people come to appreciate the significance of languages and similar subjects, they will not learn about important traditions and moral codes, which should be passed down to future generations.
The government should ensure that all schools have sufficient funds to purchase the teaching material that is needed to carry out programmes where students learn about language and culture.
Only when our youngsters learn more about traditional culture will they learn to appreciate its merits and virtues.
Schools need to help these future pillars of society choose language subjects and enrich their experience with regard to traditional culture.
Edwin Tong, Hang Hau
Officials must halt decline in English
I refer to the report "Officials urged to do more to promote English" (September 11).
A global research survey of English standards has found that English standards in Hong Kong are declining.
Mother-tongue education is a big factor leading to this decline.
Children in these schools have fewer opportunities to practise English.
Also, they are probably less confident about trying to speak in English and may be less motivated to improve.
Also, the exam system does not help.
Youngsters are trained to pass exams, so the English they learn is what they will need to do well in exams. This can mean they are weak when it comes to using everyday conversational English.
The government should be trying to do more to raise English standards.
It should see this as a matter which requires urgent action by officials.
If they do not act, then the standard of English of young Hongkongers will continue to decline.
This will make the city less attractive for international companies which are wanting to set up a regional office and looking for the right location and it will make Hong Kong less competitive.
Wing Kwok, Tseung Kwan O
Choose what interests you at school
I absolutely agree with what Eric Tang says in his letter ("Think very carefully about career choices", September 11), that many of our youngsters in Hong Kong nowadays do not have the right work-life balance and do not have a high level of job satisfaction.
It is not uncommon to see university graduates who are unable to find jobs with good salaries or the career prospects they expected before they graduated.
This is one of the reasons why our city's future pillars do not feel satisfied with their jobs and are frequently stressed.
To avoid suffering in this way, secondary students in Form Three and Form Six should not choose subjects to study, just because they think it will lead to them enjoying a lucrative career. Instead, they should consider which subjects interest them most.
Only by choosing subjects in which they have a genuine interest will they be more eager to learn and go the extra mile in their studies and future careers. This would therefore certainly lead to higher job satisfaction and they would be more likely to adopt optimistic attitudes in the workplace.
It is important to recognise that we should never be the slaves of money, but the seekers of our own dreams and lifelong interests.
Lee Wai-lok, Hung Hom