Letters to the editor, March 20, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 12:16am

It is tough for parents to find right balance

I refer to the letter by Bonnie Ma (“Education chief should stop shifting blame and reform school system”, March 15).

I agree with the point made by your correspondent that our children are becoming little ­examination machines.

While they are still babies, their parents have already applied for a playgroup place.

Some very young children have to go to tutorial classes to ­prepare them for an interview to get into a kindergarten and then a good primary school. And in ­primary school, they have to join lots of extracurricular activities to get accepted to a good secondary school.

Then at that level, there are more tutorial classes to help them get a place at a ­university.

Students go through their childhood facing constant pressure from exams and tests.

I appreciate that parents do this with good intentions, they want their children to become successful in their careers. However, this makes many ­parents, like Bonnie Ma, feel helpless. She wants her daughters to have a happy childhood, but does not want them to lag ­behind others.

Although it is difficult, parents must try to strike the right balance.

They need to ensure that their sons and daughters have enough time to play at the primary level.

They can actually learn more if they are given sufficient time to relax. For example, ­playing fun puzzles with them helps them to understand the importance of being patient. Getting them to read for pleasure can make them more creative and better writers.

By finding the right balance, ­parents can help ensure their children are able to deal with the challenges they will face. Sadly, too many students have a low level of resilience and sometimes this has tragic consequences.

Whitney Chow, Mong Kok

Overprotective approach bad for students

The recent spate of suicides has shown that students in Hong Kong lack the ability to deal with the pressure they are under.

This pressure is caused by our exam-oriented education system with schools pushing their students to get high grades. They are forced to do many exercises and past papers.

After school, they have to do a lot of homework. And with Hong Kong being such a competitive city, they all have a struggle to get a place at one of our local universities. Many parents also pile on too much pressure, hoping their children will get to university and then get high-paid jobs. They sign them up for tutorial classes after school.

Parents’ expectation are so high and this causes stress for youngsters.

Another problem is that parents can be overprotective and step in too quickly to help their sons and daughters when they are in difficulty.

They grow up not able to face challenges and failure. Schools are not dealing with this issue, they are not teaching students how to cope with pressure.

I know that the Education Bureau has come up with five measures to prevent suicides, such as providing schools with better student-counselling support and raising awareness among schools and parents through seminars.

They can certainly help schools identify and help at-risk students.

However, these ­measures will not address the fundamental problem which is the source of pressure.

The bureau must review the education system.

It must see if it is possible to modify the ­syllabus of the Hong Kong ­Diploma of Secondary Education to help reduce stress levels and enable youngsters to enjoy the learning process.

Parents must learn to have more realistic expectations and keep showing their love and support for their children.

Christy Lee, Tin Shui Wai

HK suffers from a lack of competition

When I arrived in Hong Kong 20 years ago, from London, I was surprised by the level of technology present in the city.

Very soon we could deposit a cheque in a machine, instead of having to queue and wait for a clerk to register the transaction; we could use an Octopus card to pay for our shopping.

Nowadays, it is a disaster. If we want to buy a movie or theatre ticket online, we are often told that certain cards (Amex) have issues and cannot be used. If we want to register a child for a course, we are faced with websites that do not know the word “user-friendly”. Even if we simply want to surf the web from home on weekends, we have ­Wi-fi that goes at the speed of Wi-fi 20 years ago in a poor country.

Many ignore the reality, that is simple: there is no real competition in this city, and in many areas, for example, food or ­energy distribution, construction, broadband and telephone services, just to name a few.

­Local interests from a very small number of companies (or ­families, one might argue) make sure that nothing is really new, and customers can be charged increased fees every year.

We have to ask ourselves how the government is planning to make this city a centre of innovation, if not even basic internet works at the right speed. And how start-ups are supposed to grow into larger companies, if basic services are of such a poor quality.

Nothing has changed in the last 20 years, except that the rest of the world has moved on.

Fabio De Rosa, The Peak

Public will be unhappy with Legco rail vote

I am writing about the vote in the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee which approved HK$19.6 billion of additional funding for the express rail link from Hong Kong to Guangdong (“Chaos in Legco for snap rail cash vote”, March 12).

I think the methods used to get this vote through were unacceptable and can only lead to people not trusting the government.

The vote was rushed through by acting committee chairman Chan Kam-lam.

Some legislators are clearly unhappy about how this project has been managed, with so many delays and with it going over budget.

They feel that Legco has been misled over these problems and was not given the full facts.

The government was keen to have the extra funding approved, because of pressure from Beijing for the rail link to be completed.

Pro-establishment lawmakers failed to admit the obvious problems connected with it. The funding approval and the way it was done could fuel more social disorder.

When something is done in this way, in an authoritarian manner, it sets a bad precedent.

Will we see future votes in Legco pushed through swiftly? Will laws be passed without a thorough debate, regardless of whether they are good for Hong Kong?

I wonder if there is a case for someone applying for a judicial review over what happened in this committee meeting.

Pheobe Tang, Lai Chi Kok

Not racist to oppose illegal immigration

Yes, N. Balakrishnan is correct in stating that the rise of Donald Trump stems from public resentment of the government’s ­inability to protect the interests of hard-working US citizens (“A vein of anger”, March 16). But there is nothing racist about ­opposing illegal immigration and the billions of dollars in social benefits the taxpayer doles out every year. (Call this corporate welfare if you want.)

The left’s usual tactic in ­trying to discredit those who ­oppose illegal immigration is to conflate legal immigration and illegal immigration, not to mention cry racism and xenophobia.

As a Chinese American ­taxpayer, I tuned out their phoney outrage long ago.

John Chiu, Wan Chai

Set up special camp for all refugees

The problem of refugees smuggling themselves illegally into Hong Kong is getting worse.

Most of them are economic refugees who immediately claim political asylum status, knowing full well that it will take years for the United Nations to resolve their case.

We have all seen the success the Australian government has had with its polices covering its refugee problem.

The world knows we have a lack of space in Hong Kong.

The SAR government could call upon the goodwill of the central government to give us land on which we can build a ­refugee camp. This could be staffed by ­qualified mainland staff, all paid of course by the long-suffering Hong Kong taxpayer.

Refugees would remain in the camp until the UN succeeded in placing them or until the political refugee application was rejected.

I wonder how many refugees would rush here knowing how they would be handled.

Alastair Foulkes, Mid-Levels