Letters to the editor, December 17, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 5:25pm

Poor standard of English bad for economy

Toby Yeung of Adelaide, Australia (“An encounter with HK’s poor English”, December 10) was accurate in his view that Hong Kong’s English standards have fallen.

I have lived here nearly 22 years and the decline of the ­ability of the population to communicate in English has been nothing less than disastrous for one of the world’s three leading financial centres.

Mr Yeung cites the use of English by the Tourism Board and faults it for not fulfilling “the basic principles of the use of conditionals”. Well, while this may be very important if one is an academic, the greater impact of the decline in English ability on Asia’s world city is twofold.

From a tourism/image perspective, we are viewed as a backwater if you cannot ­approach someone in a large commercial building and ask “Where is the lift?” without them responding with a look of fear and a waving of hands and ­uttering “no no” before turning away.

Secondly, it means that young people in Hong Kong are completely unprepared to work in an economy that is increasingly service-driven. Young people in Shanghai and Beijing are far more fluent in English and this is viewed as very important.

Contrast this to Hong Kong, which, after the handover in 1997, pushed an initiative in mother-tongue teaching (kowtowing to Beijing?) and made a number of schools which taught in the ­medium of English switch to teaching in Cantonese.

This lack of ability to communicate in the world’s language of commerce is helping to drive the wealth disparity in Hong Kong and bodes poorly for our future.

It’s all well and good for Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah to give the public short-term sweeteners each year, but the money would be far better spent in providing better education to our youth and ­ensuring that the population can communicate in the two ­official languages in Hong Kong.

Christine Houston, Central

More HK firms should look to mainland

I refer to Peter Kammerer’s ­column (“Holidays on the mainland can broaden Hongkongers’ horizons”, December 8).

There is no doubt that China has developed at a rapid pace. New buildings and other facilities are constructed quickly and neighbourhoods are transformed.

I can recall one taxi driver on the mainland telling me that he could not memorise all the routes as they kept­ ­changing.

We need to keep remembering that under “one country, two systems”, we are part of China.

While it might be seen that the mainland is a competitor as it grows stronger economically, we also have to look at the ­advantages to be gained by Hong Kong firms operating more on the mainland.

This will be to the mutual benefit of Hong Kong and the rest of the nation.

Carmen Li Ka-man, Yau Yat Chuen

Drivers must curb bad habits on minibuses

Minibuses are one of the most common forms of public transport in Hong Kong.

Many people use them every day to commute to and from work and reach other destinations.

Therefore, it concerns me that some minibus drivers are guilty of behaviour which is very annoying for passengers and even dangerous.

  Some of them smoke when the vehicle is stationary and even when they are driving. Ventilation is not that good and so the smell of stale smoke is trapped in the minibus.

This means that everyone on board suffers from passive smoking. This adversely affects the health of people, and it is a very selfish act.

Minibus firms provide a social service as public transport operators and their drivers have a responsibility to show consideration towards others.

It is also dangerous to smoke while driving, as they have one hand off the wheel holding a lit cigarette. It would be more difficult for them to act quickly if they had to avoid a collision.

  I also note that sometimes drivers open the window and spit on the road. This is a very unhygienic and disgusting habit and can spread germs.

They need to try and improve their behaviour and get rid of these bad habits.

Katrina Lo, Tseung Kwan O

Primary pupils facing too much pressure

Primary students in local schools are forced to do a lot of exercises before sitting Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) tests.

This is not something that you read about happening in other education systems around the world. Why should primary students have to face all these exercises in Hong Kong?

A school imposes them ­because it wants good results ­recorded in the TSA so that it can raise its banding. Because of the pressure put on these pupils, there has been much debate over this issue, with a lot of ­comments being posted on Facebook.

Pupils are given a lot of past papers to study and this puts them under a great deal of pressure. Critics claim that some children suffer from depression as a result and that the pressure they are put under is unreasonable.

There have been protests against the TSA, with some ­parents taking their children to the protests in an effort to get the government to agree to its cancellation.

Some students complain that with so much homework, they have little time to play.

In fact, TSA need not be that big a problem. The problem lies with the way in which it is implemented by the schools which are trying to force the pupils to do well in tests.

The TSA is still useful, but there must be greater cooperation and coordination between schools and the government.

Other methods can be found to determine a school’s ­banding, rather than just ­depending on the TSA.

Children need to be able to enjoy their primary school life.

Evelina Chen Pik-sum, Lai Chi Kok

Consultation with public always crucial

Some residents of Man Tin ­village in Yuen Long, have protested over plans to build a church and care home for the elderly (“Church project riles NT villagers”, December 14). They said there had not been proper public consultation.

Sufficient consultation is necessary for these kinds of projects. A failure to do this is ­unfair to villagers who own land and could be affected by these developments. Villagers are ­opposed to a church being built as they feel it clashes with traditional Chinese culture, ­including the belief that a church near their homes is bad luck.

The government must see if compensation should be paid to affected residents. Officials also have to recognise the importance of having a full-scale public consultation process for any developments in Hong Kong, even ones that are small-scale. The opinions of citizens must be seen to be important.

Earlier this year, there was an outcry over an initial lack of public consultation over the redevelopment of the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Chung Miu-shan, Kowloon Tong

Teens must take care when they are online

I refer to your editorial (“Vigilance key to protecting privacy”, December 7).

I do think that a lot of people are careless about their privacy when using online services or mobile phone apps.

Teenagers, especially, will post photos of themselves on social network sites and reveal personal details such as the city or town where they live.

They will give e-mail ­addresses to so-called Facebook friends without thinking, not ­realising that all this information can be used by hackers who are obviously not friends but are out to exploit them.

To curb hackers and other criminals, they must be more careful about protecting their privacy. They should definitely not leave personal information on their profiles.

Youngsters can change settings to protect their privacy and only allow access to friends.

It is about common sense and being a smart and careful internet user.

Internet users need to think carefully before deciding ­whether they can trust someone who contacts them on sites like Facebook.

Vincent Lau Chun-sing, Tseung Kwan O

Saddened by decline of Canto-pop

During the 1980s and 1990s Canto-pop reached its highest level of popularity in Asia. This was seen as the golden age of this form of popular music.

However, with more local people listening to foreign ­singers from Taiwan and the US in the 2000s, Canto-pop went into ­decline.

In recent years, more Hongkongers have chosen to listen to Korean pop (K-pop) and are ­likely to spend less time ­tuning into home-grown music.

Hong Kong is losing its soft power and influence in the world.

It is stagnating and can be surpassed by developing cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

Canto-pop helped to ­promote our city’s unique ­culture. But now the Hong Kong music industry is trying to follow the direction taken by local audiences and copy the style of K-pop.

However, its efforts in this are resulting in negative feedback. Music producers are failing to understand what the fans really want.

They want the music ­industry here to give them something that is different and original.

The reason that K-pop ­singers are so popular is because of their unique qualities. Blindly copying what they do is not the answer.

I urge Hongkongers to keep supporting their own music ­industry.

Hopefully, we will eventually see the emergence of a new golden age of Canto-pop.

Chrissie Leung, Tseung Kwan O