Letters to the editor, February 22, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 5:02pm

Simplified characters rumour wrong

In response to the letter (“Why simplified Chinese should not be a subject”, February 18) by Tse Ka-wing, we wish to make the following clarifications.

First of all, it is not true that the learning of simplified ­Chinese characters is to be introduced as a subject.

Recently, there has been a public misunderstanding or ­rumour that the Education ­Bureau is trying to require ­primary and secondary school students to learn simplified ­Chinese characters in regular classes, over the recent consultation on updating the Chinese language education curriculum guide, which was issued in 2002.

The issue on simplified ­Chinese characters is not an item for the consultation. Since 2002, it has been suggested in the curriculum guide as one of the curriculum development concepts that the ability to ­recognise, not to write, simplified Chinese characters could be developed in terms of extensive reading activities, only after the students have developed a solid foundation in reading and ­writing traditional Chinese characters, say in secondary level but not primary level.

This decade-old concept, which is not compulsory, has been well applied to widen ­students’ reading horizons and enable them to communicate with people from different places, such as the mainland and Singapore.

There is no question about the importance of traditional Chinese characters in Hong Kong.

The Education Bureau has never issued a mandate for ­primary and secondary school students to learn and use simplified Chinese characters in ­Chinese language lessons.

Lo Pui-lam, chief curriculum development officer (Chinese), Education Bureau

Local students must widen their horizons

Nowadays, Hong Kong students are under a great deal of ­pressure.

A major reason for this is ­because of the keen competition in Hong Kong society. Even ­people who have graduated from one of our universities have difficulty finding a job.

Skilled people from abroad are competing with young Hongkongers and often they have the advantage when being interviewed by the head of a business for a vacancy. When looking at job applicants, these companies are not just focusing on degrees but also an applicant’s all-round development. The applicant from abroad may be seen as having more potential. Also, with Hong Kong being an international city, language efficiency is important for entrepreneurs as companies are ­operating in a very competitive environment.

Hong Kong students need to recognise this and widen their horizons so they can be competitive. This will increase their chances of finding a job with a company in the city.

Angel Wong, Kwun Tong

Tycoons will welcome Tsang’s budget

I was disgusted, though not surprised, by the news that Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah intends to scrap the housing rent waivers while offering tax rebates and waivers of property rates.

While the pros and cons of the housing rent waivers can be debated, the waiving of property rates represents bad policy at its worst.

The biggest beneficiaries will be the elite property tycoons and the hoarders of empty flats who will face an even lower cost of carry than they already do, thereby withholding a scarce ­resource from the market.

Events over the past two years clearly show that Hong Kong is a divided city right now. Some of the anger is political, but much of it stems from the sky-high cost of housing.

­Measures that boost the price of property are daft and show that the financial secretary has a tin ear when it comes to the ­concerns of any stakeholders other than property tycoons. ­Returning money to these ­people will not boost the ­economy as they already have far more money than they can possibly spend.

Instead, John Tsang should be bold and announce that quarterly rates will be doubled for the second (and third, and so on) properties held by every individual and all properties held in a corporate name.

This would ­increase the cost of holding properties empty and put downward pressure on ­rental prices. It would also raise much needed funds that could be used to address future welfare ­payments as Hong Kong’s ­society ages.

This would be a far more ­stable source of income than the muted increase in salaries tax (which would incentivise clever accounting tricks) and would further a social good (more affordable housing) at the same time.

The financial secretary’s plan is at odds with his two ­bosses in the government. ­Perhaps it is time to shake up the cabinet.

Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay

Visitors like clear views of harbour

The government has announced changes to Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.

What should be done to it has been a source of debate, with some people wanting more dining film and performance options in a bid to attract more visitors. People expressed opposition to any changes which would block views, for example, for nearby hotels and other businesses.

Many visitors are attracted by clear harbour views.

I do approve of changes being made to the waterfront, but whatever is built should not block people’s views of the harbour.

Sandy Tang, Sham Shui Po

MTR staff should issue warnings

A correspondent described being on an esclator at an MTR station when it suddenly stopped and he was walking on it and was fine. However, I am not sure that will convince all readers that it is safe to walk on escalators.

A lot people nowadays walk while they are looking at their mobile phones.

They are distracted and do not pay attention to what is happening around them.

Such people might not be able to stop if an MTR esclator suddenly stopped.

Perhaps the MTR could have staff on hand at escalators ­urging people to concentrate on their surroundings and therefore take greater care.

I think elderly people are particularly at risk if they walk on an escalator.

Jason Luk, Tseung Kwan O

Public hospital sector starved of resources

I do not think there are enough public hospitals in Hong Kong.

This becomes clear when you look at the high occupancy rate in medical ward beds when the flu season reached a peak over Lunar New Year.

Some patients had to sleep in gaps between rows of beds. ­Relatives complained of there being insufficient spaces ­between beds.

The government is not allocating sufficient resources to the budget for public hospitals.

It is clear that when patient demand is high, these hospitals simply cannot cope.

Some of them were built many years ago and they often lack modern equipment.

With limited resources, ­patients face longer waits ­before they can be treated.

Also, faced with long hours and lower pay, many doctors are leaving public hospitals to go and work in the private sector. This can lead to a shortage of qualified doctors in the public sector and in some fields, with so many of them having gone to work for higher salaries in ­private clinics.

The government should ­expand existing hospitals and build new ones.

It also needs to upgrade equipment, which is old, and have more medical ward beds.

It needs to offer higher ­salaries so that it can attract and keep doctors and nurses in ­public hospitals and stop the exodus to private hospitals that has become such a problem in Hong Kong.

If the government adopts the right policies, then the problems that exist in public hospitals can be solved and patients will enjoy a better service.

Yuen Ka-ki, Yau Yat Chuen