Letters to the Editor, December 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 December, 2015, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 December, 2015, 5:19pm

Car-free road has so many advantages

I refer to Arielle Ling’s letter (“Bad idea to disallow cars in Central”, December 8), which demands a balance between cars and pedestrians.

However, the problem in Hong Kong is that the present balance is weighted almost ­entirely towards private vehicles. The authorities treat pedestrians as second-class citizens.

Des Voeux Road is our prime city street and is a dismal ­disgrace compared to other ­major city centres. The pavements are far too narrow to handle the legions of pedestrians.

It is a hassle to walk down this main thoroughfare, for tourists and locals. The road itself does not actually handle such a great volume of traffic, but parked ­private cars and delivery trucks force buses into tram lanes, ­causing jams. This ­restricts the flow of the trams creating a concertina effect throughout the ­system. Our iconic trams are a very effective mode of transport and should be given precedence. Our city centre needs to be more vibrant.

I agree with Bernard Chan about the proposal for a car-free zone in Des Voeux Road Central (“No good reason to choke idea for car-free Central”, November 27). At present, this section is dead after 8pm.

Pedestrianisation would rejuvenate it by bringing night life, bars and restaurants and would give new meaning to the stalled Central Market renovation. Where are the visionary voices from our Tourism Board in ­support of this initiative?

The Executive Council must take the lead because if we wait for the Transport Department to get on board, this excellent plan will never happen.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai

Serious lack of seats all over Hong Kong

Having just come back from a visit to Hong Kong, I was ­interested to read Tammy Tam’s ­comments in her column on the view of her mainland friend of the city (“Missing ingredient that would make HK truly ­attractive”, December 14).

I am English and have thoroughly enjoyed my second visit. I concur with Tam’s friend about Hong Kong being safe but having the feeling of not quite feeling welcome. I felt very safe and, as an older woman travelling alone, this was very important for me.

However, the one practical improvement the authorities could make to generate a real positive experience for any ­visitor would be to install more seating. I mean more park benches, seating outside shopping centres like Times Square, seating when waiting for buses, and occasional seating in any street.

As a visitor, I felt slightly unwelcome because there seems to be a general desire by the authorities for no lingering, as if sitting down to take a rest is somehow frowned upon. Come on Hong Kong, make spending more time in the city a comfortable one – install more seating.

Christine Wetherill, Chickerell, Weymouth, England

Defending plans for home of Ryder Cup

I was disappointed to read your article about our investment plans for Wentworth Club in the UK (“Chinese owners dump golfers in the rough”, December 13).

There were a number of factual inaccuracies. For example, the report suggests that the leadership team of the club only met with members after “immense pressure”. In fact, since the proposed changes were first revealed directly to members, we have held numerous face-to-face meetings with more than 400 members and representatives of the local residents. We have also had a very positive meeting with Member of Parliament Philip Hammond, who is now more fully informed on our investment plans for the club.

As a Chinese company with international operations, we are mindful of the stereotypes that Chinese companies must overcome when operating in Western markets, and as the custodian of an iconic venue like Wentworth Club, we are conscious of the need for respect of its heritage at all times. As such, we have spent the past six weeks listening to our members. Based on their feedback, we have made a number of changes to the membership structure.

It is extremely important for us to be an integrated part of the community, which is why we have been liaising closely with our members and the Wentworth Residents’ Association. Nobody is more conscious of Wentworth Club’s position as an international golfing institution than the club’s executive team, staff and Reignwood Group.

In addition to listening to our members, we have also engaged industry experts who are ­adamant that without significant and urgent investment, Wentworth Club’s standing in world golf will be diminished, which would be a tragedy for the sport, the nation and of course our members.

It is on this basis that we have developed ambitious plans, which ensure that the historic home of the Ryder Cup remains a world-class institution for ­decades to come.

Rather than damaging Anglo-Chinese relations as the ­article suggests, this investment will provide an exciting demonstration of what is possible when Asian ambition is partnered with great British brands.

Songhua Ni, executive president, Reignwood Group

Why universal pension should be introduced

Many elderly citizens in Hong Kong live in poverty and there have been calls for the government to introduce a universal pension scheme.

However, there are differing opinions about this, but I think it is necessary. It can help to meet the financial needs of the elderly and is a demonstration of social responsibility by the public.

Elderly citizens face rising medical costs as they have to deal with various health problems, some of which are chronic. These costs can take up much of their available expenditure. The Mandatory Provident Fund scheme will not cover long-term financial needs. A universal pension is the most direct way to ­ensure all elderly citizens can pay for their daily necessities.

This is a way of recognising that during their working lives, they contributed to the economic growth of Hong Kong. The last administration did nothing to help pensioners. Therefore, it is up to the present or next administration to implement a universal pension. Officials are always talking about the need for us to respect our elderly citizens. This pension is the best method for the public to display that respect.

Critics of the proposal say it would be so expensive it would not be financially sustainable. But the government has a huge financial surplus and substantial reserves, so it could afford to implement the scheme. It could adjust the amount depending on how much was in its coffers.

Bon Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Too much pressure bad for students

I agree with what Alice Wu says in her article, “Reviled TSA is only a scapegoat for our flawed education system” (December 7).

When the Territory-wide System Assessment was set up, it was not intended that students should have to do lots of exercises to get high marks to help a school’s ranking. The purpose of the TSA was to help schools make any necessary amendments to teaching methods.

However, now schools force young children to do lots of exercises, because of concerns they may be shut by the government. Pupils are under too much pressure. Schools seldom focus on moral education. I am not ­saying academic results don’t matter, but schools should also be teaching youngsters to have a deeper understanding of moral standards.

In the education system in Hong Kong, the focus is on getting good results in exams, and getting into a “band one” school and eventually a a university.

Parents ask their children to join lots of extracurricular activities and tutorial classes. I am not saying that is bad in moderation, but many parents place too much stress on their children. They do this because we live in a society which is money-oriented. Parents should be nurturing their children and encouraging the healthy development of their characters.

I agree with Ms Wu that the government needs to reform the education system so that there is less pressure on students.

Tiffany-Zerlina Siu, Cheung Sha Wan

Questions in TSA test really not that hard

The Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) should not be scrapped. It is an effective way of checking on the progress being made by pupils in local schools.

If the TSA reveals it is below average, then the Education ­Bureau and teachers at the school can find ways to make improvements.

Also, the TSA is not that difficult. I did the test in Primary Three and Six and Secondary Three and the questions were really basic. I had other tests and exams that were much tougher.

The problem is that schools have the wrong attitude. ­Because they are so concerned about their rankings, they give their students difficult tests in preparation for the TSA and this is what puts them under so much pressure.

Parents ­complain about the TSA and then send their children to extra tutorial classes.

Tests and exams are unavoidable in a competitive ­society like Hong Kong. What schools need to do is teach children to be able to deal with the pressure. And the Education ­Bureau must tell schools that TSA results will have no bearing on the school’s ranking.

Chloe Hung Yee-ching, Lai Chi Kok