Letters to the editor, April 17, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2016, 12:15am

An irrational obsession with cold air cons

Warren Russell (“Keeping air con blasting is madness”, March 27) and Beth Narain (“Freezing air cons and refuse on streets”, March 29) wonder why air cons all over Hong Kong are blasting arctic air on us all through the winter.

Having lived in Hong Kong for nine years, I finally found the reason, and am happy to ­reveal the secret: people believe the air con is the only oxygen supply in the room, and turning it off will mean sudden death.

I found this hard to believe, but have now verified it from numerous air con fanatics in public buildings as well as in ­offices and homes.

The first time I realised this was when ­I was having lunch in a restaurant last winter. It was freezing outside, and inside it was even worse with the intense draught from the air conditioner.

I asked the waitress why it was on. She looked at me as if I were a child and said: “Otherwise we would have to keep the door open.” More ­recently I have tried to convince my work ­colleagues that we would not have to dress up like eskimos in our office if we turned it off.

Again, they all agreed that if we did that, we would soon suffocate from lack of oxygen. I could not help myself but, unnoticed, I turned it off. After half an hour without anyone dying, or even complaining, I spilled the beans and told them that it had been off for half an hour.

There was sheer panic in their faces as they ran over and turned it on again, happy that everyone was still alive. And all around the village where I live, you see families huddled ­together in front of their TVs under blankets and coats, with the front door wide open.

Sven Topp, Lantau

South China Sea not just a regional issue

I refer to your editorial, “On the South China Sea, it’s the G7 that’s being ‘provocative’” (April 13).

Your assertion that the South China Sea is “of regional, not global concern” shows a breathtaking ignorance or naivety of the economic and security consequence of China assuming unilateral control of a major shipping route.

The sovereignty of the South China Sea is a major issue that goes to the very heart of ­respecting international law, which China sees fit to ignore.

The relevance of the South China Sea in regional and global terms is patently obvious, as China establishes artificial islands as military bases and the US bolsters its presence in the Philippines.

Jim Francis, North Point

Unfair to say China is being aggressive

China has claimed vast areas of the South China Sea longer than any other country, certainly longer than the Philippines has existed as an independent ­country.

In the article, “Xi Jinping flirts with danger in turn to ideology” (April 12), Stein Ringen throws terms such as “China’s expansion”, “aggression”, and “aggressive patriotic” to describe Beijing’s foreign policy.

In truth, those words should be applied to the US which, after all, is the only country that ­routinely bombs other nations whenever it so pleases.

Beijing has for decades conducted a non-interventionist foreign policy and will continue to do so.

On the same page, Tom Plate claims China is “causing giant waves on the South China Sea” and has a “belligerent posture abroad” (“Partial picture”). Unfortunately, no one ever has to prove any accusation against mainland China.

Peter Guardino, New York, US

ATV made fine programmes in its heyday

Asia Television Limited has now shut down. I can remember when I was young, as a family we used to watch ATV in the ­evening while we were having dinner.

At that time, the station ­produced many high-quality programmes.

However, a lot had changed since then. Often when you switched on your television, all that was on were repeats. TV audiences in Hong Kong want to see innovative programmes, but ATV had stopped making them. I found this very disappointing.

However, as I said, it used to be important to my family and other Hongkongers. I agree with what veteran ATV actor Lawrend Lau Shek-yin said about the station, “Let it be history and a part of our collective memory that Hong Kong people can treasure” (“Countdown to final ATV broadcast tonight begins”, April 1). I agree that we should cherish our recollections of ATV during the good times.

I hope the new licence holder will do better than ATV did ­towards the end.

Rita Chan Man-ting, Yau Yat Chuen

Motivated students will learn more

I refer to the letter by after-school tutor Charles Loy (“The way English is taught in class makes students lose interest”, April 11).

Given that English is a ­second language for Hong Kong students, it presents them with some challenges. They have to remember a lot of vocabulary, including some difficult words, and this requires real effort and patience.

Another challenge is that English tenses do not exist in Chinese and this is very ­confusing.

In this globalised world, many students now learn two or three languages. They are often pushed to learn more by their schools or parents.

However, motivation is very important. Youngsters should start learning a language ­because they want to. So, for example, some young Hongkongers who love Japanese animation, or J-pop or K-pop are motivated to learn Japanese or Korean. Your correspondent points out that any interest Hong Kong students “may have had in learning English at school was destroyed as they were turned into a copying machine”.

Schools need to stop this copying method. Of course, ­students need to memorise ­English vocabulary, but the way it is done in Hong Kong means that they memorise a word ­without really understanding its ­meaning. It is what I would call “over-copying” and it is a waste of time for teachers and ­students.

There are interesting ways to teach English, such as using pop culture including pop songs and TV shows and films. Through these mediums students can still learn grammar patterns, tenses and vocabulary, but do so almost imperceptibly.

After they have watched a film, for example, teachers can then ask questions about it.

When students are asked to answer questions in class in their own words, they have a better understanding of how to use the new vocabulary they have learned.

Joyce Lee, Tseung Kwan O

Overprotective parents are bad for children

Hong Kong parents are becoming increasingly overprotective of their children and I find this a worrying trend.

In order to deal with the problem, we have to try and understand it.

Hong Kong has a falling birth rate and there are now many single-parent families. Some of the parents grew up in difficult circumstances in families on low incomes.

They do not want their children to have the same problems and try to shelter them.

These parents will argue they are doing this for the sake of the children’s well-being, but they can cause irreparable harm. They are failing to recognise that when their children grow up they will be have to function as adults in society. How will they be able to survive if they have never been given the chance to be independent?

Many overprotective ­parents are known as “helicopter” or “monster” parents, ­because of the way they put pressure on their children to excel in school. They see school as a race and want their sons and daughters to have an advantage from the starting line.

They force their children into extracurricular activities and will not let them just relax and hang out with friends.

These adults need to learn to be less protective.

Ernest Chan Ho-wang, Ho Man Tin