Letters to the editor, May 4, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 May, 2016, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 May, 2016, 4:38pm

Observatory must consider many factors

I refer to the letter by Lee Kwok-lun of the Hong Kong Observatory (“Red rainstorm warning was not necessary”, April 25).

There has been some debate about whether the Observatory should have hoisted the red or even the black rainstorm ­warning on the morning of April 13. It will only raise the red rainstorm warning if “heavy rain has fallen or is expected to fall generally over Hong Kong, exceeding...50mm in an hour”.

The Observatory has a ­number of factors to consider before raising higher warning levels. A red rainstorm warning could have an adverse impact on Hong Kong’s economy.

Some businesses may have to shut for part or all of the day and would thus sustain loss of income. It could affect the city’s theme parks. If red rainstorm warnings became more common, potential visitors keen to see Disneyland and Ocean Park, might think twice if they fear there is a likelihood of red rainstorm warnings spoiling their plans. A drop in tourist numbers hurts the city’s economy.

The Observatory has to be prudent and it has to be aware of the wider consequences of its actions.

I also appreciate the arguments made in the letter that when the amber rainstorm warning is raised, and does not go higher, there can still be flooding in low-lying and poorly drained areas.

Also, a rain band can move swiftly and affect different parts of Hong Kong at different times. All these factors present challenges to the Observatory when deciding which colour of ­warning to raise.

Felix Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Peking opera an art form that is worth saving

I refer to your editorial, “China must keep Peking opera alive” (April 29).

Peking opera has a history stretching back two millennia, and is an important cultural ­legacy from our ancestors. There are fears that it may be under threat, but I hope that ­future generations will continue to watch and appreciate this art form. Having existed for so long, it has its own unique characteristics.

It combines different kinds of operatic influences, such as Shaanxi, Kunqu, Heibei Clapper and Yiyangqiang opera formats. The kind of facial makeup used is also distinctive.

However, it asks a lot of performers and audiences and modifications are needed if it is to survive.

The strict rules which regulate how Peking opera should be performed need to be relaxed so that more young people, including women, are encouraged to learn the craft.

Most youngsters probably think of it as old-fashioned, but if they are given a taste of Peking opera, hopefully their views will change and some of them will become keen to learn more and even to get involved. It can be kept alive if young people become involved.

Schools should organise ­Peking opera workshops and film stars should use the media to promote it and to encourage students to get involved. In this way, it will hopefully become more accessible to teenagers.

Peking opera is an important part of Chinese culture, and so we must make an effort to keep it alive and ensure that it is passed on to the next generation.

All countries have aspects of their culture that make them unique and Peking opera is something that is unique and can only be found in our nation.

Percy Hon Pui-sze, Ngau Tau Kok

EU should not claim moral high ground

I refer to the letter by Harry Ng (“EU was right to point out HK missteps”, May 2).

As a national of a European Union country, I strongly disagree with the EU’s assessment of Hong Kong’s situation.

In fact, the EU has its own ­crisis of legitimacy to deal with, as the growth of parties in European countries which promote leaving or reducing the EU’s powers attests to.

Telling the Hong Kong government [as the EU’s top envoy to the city did] to “look into why some people are campaigning for the city’s independence from China”, and “the government should examine what motivates people to say that” (“EU envoy urges HK officials to ask what drives the independence campaign”, April 29) is like the Hong Kong government ordering the EU to take Nigel Farage [of the UK Independence Party] more seriously. It is simply offensive.

EU citizens expect the EU to make a positive contribution to the political environment in Hong Kong.

Comments like this will achieve exactly the opposite ­because, for what they are worth, they will be eagerly seized upon by the activists to create an air of legitimacy around their parties, as exemplified by Harry Ng’s letter.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels

Hongkongers forget PRC’s achievements

If it is the case that around 20 per cent of Hongkongers support independence, this is because the last three or four generations of citizens did not teach their children Chinese culture.

Therefore, they have grown up not knowing what it means to be Chinese and instead worshipped Western culture. However, they should be ­reminded of the ­maxim, which comes from the West, “United we stand, divided we fall”.

They have failed to learn how the unique success of the People’s Republic of China over four decades is due to a Chinese style of communism and its own kind of democracy, rather than universal suffrage that chooses the leaders in the ­central government. Each year, this government has brought millions of people out of poverty.

George Hong, Lijiang, Yunnan

Do more to improve spoken English

I agree with those who say that the English standard of most students in Hong Kong is poor.

They often have problems with pronunciation and this comes from not getting enough time at school to practise spoken ­English.

This puts them at a disadvantage, because there is a big difference between written and spoken English.

Schools need to ensure that there is one additional English speaking lesson per week.

To help students with pronunciation and reduce the number of grammatical errors they make when speaking, the Education Bureau must appoint more native English-speaking teachers (NETs) from abroad.

Experienced NETs are able to listen to students’ pronunciation and help them correct any errors.

Cathy Yuen Tsz-wai, Tseung Kwan O

Cooling-off period is vital for contracts

I refer to the report, “California Fitness shamed for hard sell” (April 29).

The public outcry over some fitness centres’ sales tactics will continue until there are laws in place which can be enforced.

Although California Fitness has been named and shamed in public by the Consumer Council, it will be a limited deterrent to the company’s aggressive sales tactics. Cheap basic charges and convenient locations of the centres continue to appeal to many customers. However, we will continue to see customer complaints.

Penalties should be imposed under the Trade Description Ordinance on firms which pressure customers into purchasing memberships and make transactions without their consent. To ensure any crackdown is successful, firms should face the threat of a temporary suspension of their operating licence.

Also, it is very important that we have laws which allows customers a cooling-off period when they have signed a contract.

Many people feel under pressure from the staff of a fitness centre to sign a contract and regret it later. They need to be given sufficient time, under a cooling-off period law, to decide if they really want the products or services they signed up for in the contract.

Not only does the cooling-off period let customers reconsider their contract, it provides a disincentive for sales malpractices. It discourages sales staff from intimidating customers into paying for extra services because the customers will probably request a refund if they sense something wrong.

Erica Yeung, Diamond Hill