Letters to the Editor, October 11, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 12:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 12:02am

Social issues deserve top priority

As a secondary student I think it is important that adults should know what young people think about what is happening in Hong Kong.

I was at the airport last walk and overheard a foreign visitor ask, "What is happening to Hong Kong?"

Not only our global visitors, but also we ordinary Hongkongers are frustrated about what we have faced in recent years. From political struggles to parallel trading, the failure of our medical systems to meet skyrocketing demand, to lead in drinking water, we can easily see why citizens are fretting about living in Hong Kong.

Little has been achieved in the last five years. Apart from turning political issues into farce, our government and lawmakers have paid little attention to social issues. Long delays in receiving medical treatment, and recently, the MTR's ban on oversized musical instruments are just two examples of why people get upset.

The government must take the lead. For example, it could allocate HK1 billion to build a fully equipped, modern hospital, instead of spending hundreds of billions on white elephant projects.

Overhauling the secondary school curriculum to allow sex and moral education would provide the next generation with better intellectual, mental and spiritual development, rather than just the current emphasis on academic results.

We should put aside our political distrust so together we can solve social problems. That's far more important than winning meaningless political arguments.

Edison Wong, To Kwa Wan

Beijing needs change of attitude

I refer to Ryan Lee's letter ("Colonialist sympathisers hard to fathom", October 2).

Since there are more teenagers waving the Hong Kong colonial flag, a lot of Beijing and SAR politicians have urged the Hong Kong government to promote patriotic education so that those kids can feel proud to be a Chinese.

However, is it the only solution to put this flag into a museum?

I admit the miserable history of early British colonial rule and the fact that no governor was chosen by Hongkongers. However, governors after the second world war did respect the law and at least listened to people as though an elected leader. For example, Murray MacLehose reformed bad policies and developed social welfare and clean government after several serious riots.

Also, Britain is well-known as a democratic country respecting citizens with different voices. The government never forced Hongkongers to follow their values. Instead, a lot of Hong Kong residents believed themselves as Chinese, no matter whether they loved the ROC, PRC or British authority. Britain did not ask Hongkongers to be grateful.

On the surface, Beijing has kept our freedoms but has adopted a very different approach. It has called pro-democrats traitors and asked us to be thankful for its rule. Our chief executives lack credibility and seem to speak for Beijing's interest rather than citizens'.

Mencius said, "the people are the most important, and then the state" .

Beijing needs to respect Hong Kong's core values such as freedom of speech. If it can show some respect to the people, nostalgia of British rule is not really a risk to China.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town 

Singapore's PAP still the choice of most

Leung Lai-hang's picture of growing local distrust in the People's Action Party does not square with the huge 10 per cent vote swing in the incumbent's favour at last month's general elections ("Lessons for Hong Kong from Singapore's polls", October 4).

According to the same July 2015 survey by local research firm Blackbox, which he had cited to support his argument, the ruling party registered a 2.7 per cent year-on-year rise in the "overall government satisfaction index" to a very respectable 76.4 per cent.

This headline figure would have been higher if not for the major breakdown of two subway lines during the survey period, which dragged public approval rating for public transport down to 57 per cent - a loss of 12 per cent from the previous year. It is consistent with Singapore's fifth place ranking on the 2015 Edelman Trust Index, compared to Hong Kong's 17th position on the ladder of trust in government and institutions.

Barring any mishaps, the PAP's swing back into favour with more Singaporean voters at the recent polls suggest an improvement in the Lion City's rating next year.

Diversity of views should always be welcome in any democracy, as long as they do not smack of biased data selection.

John Chan, Singapore

Cutting back on homework not solution

In the hustle and bustle of city life, even toddlers are busy attending play groups and acquiring language or music skills to equip themselves for living in the upwardly mobile society in the future.

Students like us, who regard eight hours sleep a day as a blessing, are facing tremendous pressure meeting deadlines for homework, as well as having to deal with pressure exerted by the school and parents.

Less homework, and not having to burn the midnight oil, might seem to offer the best way to reduce stress - more rest.

Parents would benefit, too. Seeing their children becoming more relaxed they would be less stressed worrying about their health and prospects.

Yet, bear in mind, cutting the workload would not mean slacking off. The education system as it exists in Hong Kong demands that students work harder and harder amid stiff competition.

Here comes the problem. Homework, in fact, is an effective way for students to learn how to apply knowledge learned so as to consolidate their study.

For example, in mathematics, after knowing the formula, plenty of exercises should be done in order to know how to apply it in the exam.

Doing homework is definitely a practical means for students to increase their competitiveness in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.

If exam results turn out to poor, would students and parents be less stressful?

Besides, even if schools reduce workloads, for most of the tiger mothers in this city, would they be willing to see their children playing with their gadgets and relaxing? Obviously not. They might force their children to attend more tutorial classes and ask them do more practice exercises.

As a result, stress levels of students and parents themselves might not drop but rise.

The freer Scandinavian education models, such as in Finland, would not work in Hong Kong due to the big differences in parenting culture.

Valerie Hau Ching-kiu, Tai Wai

High housing prices expose the poor

I refer to the report ("Calls for help after tragedy in McDonald's", October 5), about the homeless woman who died unnoticed in one of the fast-food chain's 24-hour outlets.

It prompted calls from concerned groups, including NGOs, who urged immediate government steps to help the homeless.

The tragedy highlights the problem of sky-high housing prices in Hong Kong.

Some working homeless earned so little they choose to spend their money on food rather than rent.

It is clear that the government has to act.

As well as providing more emergency shelters for the homeless, it needs to accelerate its public housing building programme.

Trisha Tobar, Sai Kung