Letters to the Editor, March 29, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 4:22pm

Why it is time for UK to leave doomed union

In the article (“Fantasies of the Brexit brigade”, March 27), ­Philip Bowring rails about the arguments for leaving the European Union, but in his arguments against it he expounds every point in favour of Brexit.

The most nonsensical ­comment in his article is where he mentions that Brexit might well cause political chaos in the UK where, he emphasises, parliament is sovereign.

Does he not understand that the primary argument for Brexit is that due to the EU’s overpowering bureaucracy, parliament in the UK has lost most of its sovereignty and power? It is subservient to Brussels, hence the very strong grassroots sentiments for Brexit.

I woke up one day many years ago, as I am sure many ­others did, shocked and bewildered to discover that the UK was no longer a member of the European Economic Community but a member of the ­European Union and it was at that moment I realised the EU had overreached itself and would ultimately disintegrate.

It is inevitable, as recent and ancient history teaches us about such attempts to control disparate groups, and the sooner the UK completes its disengagement from this doomed union the better.

G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling

Captive whales are leading miserable lives

The SeaWorld theme parks in the US have announced they will end their orca killer whale breeding programme ­(“SeaWorld to end orcas ­breeding, doing tricks”, March 19).

It is responding to the pressure that it has been under from conservation groups.

However, these groups now want SeaWorld to go further and to create sanctuaries at sea where the whales can be ­released in the wild with marine animal experts teaching them how to catch fish.

I agree with them that these animals should not be kept in captivity.

The so-called entertainment they have been forced to provide causes these intelligent animals to suffer.

At sea, in their natural environment, orcas live in large, complex social groups and swim freely without constraints in the ocean.

However, in captivity, they are confined to small tanks. It is like a human being confined to a bathtub. It is difficult to imagine what kind of quality of life they have in captivity.

It causes them physical damage and stress. Indeed one of SeaWorld’s whales battered and drowned a trainer in Orlando in 2010. He had been in captivity for more than 20 years and is now in poor health and not expected to live much longer.

In their natural habitat they hunt for food. In these theme parks they are forced to perform tricks. So they are denied the chance to engage in natural behaviour and do something that is not natural.

They may bring a lot of laughter to audiences, but members of these audiences at theme parks should realise that they suffer as a consequence of having to do these tricks.

Kathy Cheuk Ka-yee, Yau Yat Chuen

More must be done to relieve congestion

Earlier this month Harrow International School said it would try to reduce traffic outside the school which is causing congestion in Tuen Mun.

As an international school most children come from ­families on fairly high incomes and so they are often taken there and picked up in private cars. However, even before the school opened the roads in this part of Hong Kong had always been busy and some of them are in a poor condition.

After the school opened there was a lot of extra traffic at certain times of the day which has meant congestion is now a big problem.

I can appreciate that it is more convenient for students to come by car rather than public transport, especially if they are carrying a lot of textbooks, ­sporting equipment or maybe a musical instrument.

However, they should try wherever possible to use public transport and so reduce congestion.

Students living near the school should walk as the exercise will do them good.

The school should also look at how it can make modifications to its bus service so that more pupils use it.

Wong Hiu-yan, Tseung Kwan O

Schools can teach life skills to students

I am sure all citizens will have been shocked by the recent revelations of a spate of suicides (more than 20) among students in Hong Kong since the start of the school year in September.

Young people are the future pillars of our community and we have to ask how this has happened.

I realise that youngsters today face a great deal of stress for various reasons and they might sometimes find it difficult to cope. Some of those who were really vulnerable decided to take their own lives.

Young people must be encouraged to try and deal with the stress they feel, in ways such as taking up healthy hobbies.

If they can get involved in a pastime they really enjoy, this can help them to find life more rewarding.

It is also important for parents and teachers to pay close attention. They need to look for any abnormal changes in behaviour.

They should then intervene and offer these youngsters the appropriate help.

Proper counselling in schools is important and it must be provided promptly, as youngsters lack experience of life and life skills, so they need a lot of guidance if they are ­troubled.

Schools should provide social interaction and interpersonal skill lessons. Education should not just be about spoon-feeding and should avoid ­placing so much ­emphasis on academic studies.

Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin

Children are under far too much pressure

I think some parents and the government must take some responsibility for the recent sharp rise in the number of ­student suicides.

The expectations of many parents nowadays are too high and youngsters can be put under too much pressure. They have a lot of homework to do and might also have to attend ­tutorial classes and may be forced to do extracurricular ­activities to boost their chances of getting a place at a good secondary school or a university. They find they have no spare time to do what they want.

Many schools focus on academic studies and do not teach youngsters important life skills.

Parents need to give their children more freedom to ­develop their own unique ­qualities.

The Education Bureau has to reform the school system and officials must ask if it is necessary to have so many tests and exams.

Also, more social workers and psychologists should be deployed to schools.

I hope that with appropriate changes we will see an end to these tragic deaths.

Michael Chan, Yau Tong

Could AI pose serious threat to our jobs?

There have been major and swift advances in the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

Many people think that ­within decades there will be ­machines that are smarter than humans as computer speeds accelerate.

Some people feel that these advances could bring inherent risks to humans.

What will be the consequences for us if AI eventually is comparable to human intelligence and can perform more efficiently? Will employers use this technology and fire human employees and will this lead to widespread unemployment?

Will we all become too reliant on these machines in our daily lives?

I think we must take care how we develop AI and take time to reflect on the progress and slow down the process, if ­necessary.

Tiffany Ng Pui-yan, Yau Yat Chuen