Letters to the Editor, October 12, 2015
Scout for local talent to run arts hub
The pending departure of Lars Nittve, executive director of the visual culture museum M+, adds oil to the revolving door that is senior management of West Kowloon Cultural District. It reminds us of the inability of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to retain vastly overpriced imported personnel.
Had the cultural district been a listed company this merry-go-round of instability would see its shares nosedive as investors flee, yet the authority simply starts another expensive global search for a replacement. Why does it do this?
The investors in this arts hub are the people of Hong Kong and we deserve better than the shenanigans dealt to us thus far. It is an internationally recognised joke. Delays and vast cost overruns show our city as unable to build the world-class infrastructures required, while other cities in China and Asia deliver stunning cultural centres.
The cultural district authority must stop the loss of senior staff and explore fully the filling of these positions with local talent, people who see life in Hong Kong as more than a five-year well-paid posting. I wonder how many Hong Kong communities actually know the names of departed (and departing) senior cultural district personnel, Graham Sheffield, Michael Lynch, Tobias Berger or Nittve; I hazard not many.
The cultural district needs stability that can only come from hiring people committed to their future in Hong Kong as part of the fabric of our city.
It should not simply import another person with scant regard for the community of Hong Kong.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Food scheme eco-friendly and helps poor
I am glad that NGOs and green groups are now collecting unsold vegetables from vendors at wet markets, which can help the needy.
One group has collected more than 31,000kg of vegetables so far this year.
The donations by stall-holders of this unsold stock is helping society and the environment.
These donations benefit many people on low incomes, as they struggle to make ends meet and ensure their families get three meals a day.
Also, it means it reduces the volume of food waste dumped in our landfills. Rather than being discarded, this food is being recycled.
Although NGOs and green groups are heavily involved in the scheme, the government needs to do more. Some vendors at wet markets do not know about the donation programme and some are not willing to donate their leftovers, because of lack of information about the scheme.
If the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department approached wet market vendors and explained that the programme is genuine and is helping people in need, more of them would join it.
The government also needs to offer more financial help to these green groups and NGOs.
Chan Pui-yiu, Kowloon Tong
Colonial HK is part of our heritage
Ryan Lee, in his letter ("Colonialist sympathisers hard to fathom", October 2), has a strange take on Hong Kong's colonial past and its current relationship with Beijing.
In neither relationship were/are we equals. And although the SAR is now part of China, colonial Hong Kong is part of our heritage and colonial-deniers do the city a disservice.
We have a lot to thank Britain for, including a world-class police force and civil service; judicial independence and the rule of law; publicly-funded schools and hospitals; a thriving arts and cultural environment; and freedom of religion and of speech.
Hong Kong, under colonial rule, became a major player on the world stage and, more recently, the door to China for business investors and travellers. Our unique heritage allowed the city to punch well above its weight in commercial and international affairs.
Most Hongkongers were born or settled here during the colonial years and in the same way that we might not always like a strict parent or guardian, we shouldn't deny our past.
It is also somewhat foolish to believe that just because Hong Kong is now a special administrative region of China, Hongkongers shouldn't question or voice their concerns about China and mainlanders. Acknowledging our colonial heritage and embracing its future as part of China are not mutually exclusive.
The sooner we recognise this truth, the sooner Hong Kong can move on and take its rightful place in Britain's history as well as China's future.
Helen Cheung, Ho Man Tin
Claim about NETs' pay inaccurate
I refer to Kelly Yang's article ("Together, local teachers and NETs can boost English learning", October 7).
She should get her facts right before she attacks Hong Kong's native English-speaking teachers (NETs).
She said that we earn three times more than local teachers. She neglects to mention that we don't get a Mandatory Provident Fund contribution from the government.
A senior local teacher at my school told me her MPF fund rises by HK$1 million every three years.
We are all very well paid on the same civil service pay scale, but the main extra benefit that NETs get is the housing allowance, and that is much less than HK$333,333 a year. If you throw in our other allowances, I would say we are paid about the same as local teachers.
Warren Russell, Tseung Kwan O
Teens need to take short breaks in class
Students, especially at senior secondary level, will have found the start of a new school year challenging, after the long summer break.
As a Form Six student, I have found it tiring and we are only a few weeks into the first term.
Not only do students have to do a lot of homework, but they have to prepare for presentations and tests.
Also, many of us are involved in a variety of extracurricular activities and tutorial classes. This is tiring when you have been through a long school day.
Some youngsters find they do not get enough sleep and that they are tired the next day and are concerned this could affect their performance in class.
They need to find ways to cope with the pressure and I would suggest making sure they take enough breaks, even short ones throughout the day.
There should even be short breaks during lessons, so students can have a breather.
This would benefit students and teachers, because after a short rest, the youngsters would be refreshed and could concentrate better during the rest of the lesson.
I think teachers would also see the advantages of having these brief breaks.
Au Kit-yan, Yau Yat Chuen
Downside to independent online shops
There has been a trend for individuals to set up their own small retail businesses online, often on social network sites.
There are obvious advantages to these small firms, but there can be a downside.
On the plus side, some of these small enterprises can help develop the cultural and creative sector. Some of the independent entrepreneurs sell products, such as handicrafts, that they have made at home. They are different from the more standard, uniform products that you get in large stores in the city.
They offer people more lifestyle choices and help individuals wanting to run their own business to get started.
Their overheads are lower and they save on rent and paying for advertising. All you need is ambition and some creativity.
Even secondary school students can get involved.
Some of them are very popular.
For example, a university student launched an online shop selling home-made desserts and it has proved a hit with Hongkongers of all ages as you can tell from looking at her page on a social network site.
However, there are some disadvantages. There is an increased risk of customers' personal information being disclosed to other parties. This raises questions about online security.
It is good to see these online businesses being established, but I think the government has to consider tighter regulation to ensure online security.
Wong Siu-yuk, Sham Shui Po
Free trade deal politically motivated
The US already has 14 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries.
Six of the 11 nations in the prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement discussed by Congress and "big labour" and "big business" are in one or another of these FTAs. The five not covered are Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam. Japan represents 95 per cent of its collective volume of trade with the US.
So one would think that Japan is the prime target of TPP. But Japan already builds quality cars using American labour in its factories in southern states in the US at prices cheaper than imports from Japan.
The TPP is a politically motivated - not an economic - agreement that is meant to counter China's growing influence in the Pacific Rim (its home) region.
Keeping US economic skin in the game is a ruse to maintain US political and diplomatic influence in the TPP countries and in a region increasingly impacted by the Chinese economic powerhouse and its concomitant build-up of political and military influence.
Daniel F. Downes, New Jersey, US