Letters to the editor, December 10, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 4:40pm

An encounter with Hong Kong’s poor English

I am genuinely astounded by how much Hong Kong’s English standards have fallen. English is still the world’s most widely spoken language and ought to be taken seriously by the SAR government, if Hong Kong is to remain competitive as a regional finance and services hub.

A recent viewing of the Tourism Board’s “Discover Hong Kong” website brings home the point. It was dreadful to see the mistakes, ranging from missing articles to awkward choices of words. Here’s one example.

“If shopping is a sport, Causeway Bay is the Olympic Games.” This description was used to flaunt the appeal of Causeway Bay. It seems to be a rather poetic and flowery use of the language, but the basic principles of the use of conditionals were not fulfilled.

The writer used a zero conditional, which suggests certainty in the condition-consequence relationship; meaning if A happens, B results. That’s not the case here: shopping can never be a sport, and Causeway Bay can never be the Olympic Games, not to mention the awkward comparison of Causeway Bay, a place, with the Olympic Games, an event.

The writer should use the second conditional to indicate that it is a hypothetical situation. More correctly, we could say: “If shopping were a type of sport, then Causeway Bay would be the stadium housing it.”

There were other errors. For example, “chaotic”, a negative adjective, was used to describe the diversified and captivating little market on Jardine Crescent.

On this site, you will discover Hong Kong, but unfortunately not the glamorous side of it.

Toby Yeung, Adelaide, Australia

No better time to review small house policy

It is interesting to note that the defendants in the “selling of ding rights” case were forced to say in a law court that the selling of an indigenous villager’s right to build a small house was a long-time practice and widespread, as if, by saying so, it excused their actions. “Everybody’s doing it so why are we getting the rap for it?” – the villagers seemed to be saying.

With the verdict given on November 27 (“Developer, 11 villagers ‘engaged in homes scam’”, November 28), what was previously an open secret is now on public record. It provides the Development Bureau with more reason to review the small house policy.

I would assume that the Heung Yee Kuk, being an interested party, would have preferred that the villagers and the defence lawyers had kept quiet on this issue. The open admission of the selling of ding rights makes it all the more difficult for the kuk to justify the continuation of the policy, which is way past its use-by date.

Danny Chung, Tai Po

Crack down on illegal rural housing deals

Given the recent jailing of villagers for selling their ding rights to developers (“Villagers jailed over rural housing scam”, December 5), I hope the government will make crystal clear that this practice is not acceptable. It must crack down on those others who have abused the system with the same enthusiasm as it has shown for the agitators in the recent civil protests.

Tymon Mellor, Tai Po

Unhealthy drilling culture to blame

The recent controversies in Hong Kong education have only served to highlight a deeper problem that has plagued the whole system: excessive drilling and hypercompetitive culture in student learning.

In theory, assessments are meant to gauge students’ basic competencies, and to ensure that the students have achieved a certain standard before moving on to tertiary education. The benchmarks inform schools as to how best to improve their effectiveness in teaching.

For example, the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) was meant to assess the abilities of the individual student, allowing teachers to adjust their teaching plan accordingly, according to the government website.

These are noble aspirations, but somewhere in the execution, something has gone wrong.

Students are under greater pressure than ever to attain and achieve better grades, while schools fret over the results for fear of slipping in ranking or losing their reputation.

Reforming or abolishing assessments do not necessarily translate to students having more time to digest the concepts for a better learning experience.

This “extra time” will inevitably be eaten up by other activities that their parents or their schools will have them participate in, such as the classes set up for young children on how to ace an interview, or the various extracurricular activities students attend in order to boost their CVs. If not the parents, students, too, will register themselves for tuition classes in order to have a better chance at doing well in their examinations.

Simply saying that students are under extreme pressure without any attempt to change the drilling culture will result in no improvements.

In this, parents, educators and the students themselves must be willing to work with the government, instead of boycotting and disrupting assessments. For its part, the government must be willing to show that they are listening to the parents instead of holding to their own views and botching consultation sessions.

Christie Chiu, Repulse Bay

PLA should give up its ‘occupied’ land

Although I do not always agree with the views and the antics of Albert Chan Wai-yip, he has a very legitimate point about the land occupied by the People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong (“Lawmaker fails in bid to oust PLA for flats”, December 5).

The PLA holds vast prime land in Hong Kong. Where Beijing emphasises that harmony in Hong Kong is something the government should focus on, it could easily help the same government by giving up land it occupies and thus reduce the shortage of land, which the administration claims is the reason for the shortage of housing.

Showing sincerity would mean giving it back for free. If the central government is really serious in promoting harmony, what prevents it from giving up “occupied land” in Hong Kong to help the Hong Kong government solve the housing problem? By making this move, the mainland would win some hearts in Hong Kong.

Moreover, are we at war or under a serious security threat? The PLA does not need these facilities. They are just over the border half an hour from here.

Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun

Let us wait for consensus on copyright law

Now is not the best time to pass the so-called “internet article 23” bill (“Copyright bill sparks battle over rights”, December 9).

The proposed criminal action to be taken against copyright infringement is arguably the most problematic part of the bill. Criminal actions are reserved for serious wrongdoings and should be used as a last resort.

If the purpose of the bill is to enhance the intellectual property law in Hong Kong and to protect the creative businesses, as the government claims, it could offer such protection through other means, for example, by imposing higher financial penalties.

Furthermore, there is still considerable uncertainty regarding the scope of the statutory exemptions to copyright infringement.

Most importantly, in light of the current distrustful social and political environment, more time should be given to society to thoroughly discuss this matter and hopefully reach a consensus.

C. Chu, North Point

Ensure young TV viewers are protected

TVB’s J2 digital channel now shows live broadcasts of horse racing and the Mark Six draw, taking over from troubled broadcaster ATV. This is good news for gamblers because they get to continue watching the programmes, but I worry about the unintended consequences.

J2 has a lot of teenage viewers, who generally prefer programmes such as animation. Isn’t the broadcast of horse racing and Mark Six affecting the regular programming? Besides, are gambling programmes really suitable for teenagers? It may make them interested in gambling, and lead them to develop a gambling habit.

Not everyone needs to watch the gambling. The relevant authorities must decide on a suitable programming plan to ensure teenagers are protected.

Stephen Yip Chak Sang, Tseung Kwan O

Elsie Tu’s passion is an example to us all

I like your editorial, “Elsie Tu was a true hero of the people” (December 9), and I feel so sad about Ms Elsie Tu’s passing, as she was a living example of the “I love Hong Kong” spirit. I wish most of us living here would share her passion and crave justice instead of selfishness! I take comfort in the fact that I once shook her hand years ago when I met her in the street, and I told her, “You are my idol, thank you for everything”.

G. Chan, Wan Chai