Letters to the editor, May 13, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 5:02pm

West has to face Muslim migrant issue

Mike Rowse is spot on, when he points out that Europe’s concerns about immigration are not simply about the numbers, but specifically that the immigrants are overwhelmingly Muslim (“Clash of values a thorny issue in immigration, May 9). “No use beating about the bush,” he says. Quite.

The reason that so many ­parties of the right are rising in Europe now is that mainstream political parties have failed to address their publics’ concerns about this awkward reality.

Instead they have studiously avoided grappling with the immigrating cultures, with values often inimical to open, tolerant, democratic societies. And they have done this in the name of multiculturalism, an implicit belief that all cultures are equal.

If the rise of the far-right is to be halted, then mainstream ­parties need to take a much more robust approach to the ­beliefs and practices of those Muslim immigrants who try to reverse hard-won gains of ­Western societies. They need to staunchly defend freedom of speech (even if it offends), ­freedom of conscience, and the equal treatment of women and minorities.

This in turn requires belief in the basic decency of Western ­values, not kowtowing to bogus cultural equivalence that “all ­cultures are the same”. No, they are not.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Timidity is not the way to fight illegal trade

If undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung–wai is reluctant to publish a government list of legal ivory traders in Hong Kong, then one wonders whether it might be equally as embarrassing for the administration if the role of the Hong Kong SAR in the illegal trade of ivory were more widely known (“Top official halts BBC interview about ivory trade”, April 30).

On April 28, the BBC ­ posted an interview on its website with a legal ivory trader in Hong Kong who boasted that he was able to replenish legally held stocks with illegally imported ivory with ease.

This vile international trade thrives on corruption, it fosters violence and murder in the elephants’ habitat areas of East ­Africa, and is currently so serious a problem that the possible extinction of elephant populations is now a possibility.

Progress in addressing these issues and the associated criminality will not be achieved by government timidity and procrastination.

Paul Tattam, Sha Tin

Breastfeeding facilities are inadequate

On Mother’s Day on Sunday, I was thinking about the issue of breastfeeding in Hong Kong.

Sometimes I think we fail to appreciate the effort our mothers make and the difficulties they sometimes face.

This was highlighted by a protest by local mothers at Tai Wai MTR station calling for legislation to end the discrimination they face when breastfeeding in public areas. They are willing to take this stand because they love their children and I do not know why the government does not pass a law.

The lack of breastfeeding facilities is a serious problem in Hong Kong. Often women have no choice but to use a toilet ­cubicle, which is not suitable. Would an adult want to eat a meal in a toilet? Obviously not, so why should a mother and child be forced to do this?

They have the same rights as anyone else.

The government must ensure that more breastfeeding facilities exist throughout Hong Kong.

Shirley Lee, Tseung Kwan O

Hospital fee hike will hurt poorer patients

Some correspondents support calls to raise the emergency ­services fee in public hospitals from HK$100 to HK$200.

They argue that if this happened, fewer patients would come to the hospitals and the long waiting times would be cut.

I am opposed to this proposal. It is true fewer people would visit, but some would stay away if they were on a low ­income and could not afford the new fee, even though they might be in genuine need of treatment. They might instead go to a pharmacy and self-medicate and their condition could then ­become more serious. Also, we all pay taxes and public hospitals are financed by taxpayers’ money. We are entitled to treatment in these hospitals. The government recognises this and that is why it has not raised the fee.

The long queues are due to inadequate facilities and so the government should be building more public hospitals. If it does this, waiting times will drop.

It should also educate Hong Kong people so that they learn to use emergency services at ­public hospitals in the correct manner and recognise that when it is not an emergency, they can see a private doctor.

Sharon Wong, Yau Yat Chuen

Modify this high-pressure school system

I partly agree with those who ­argue that Hong Kong’s education system is the main cause of the pressure felt by so many ­students.

They are spoon-fed information and it is drummed into them that they must work hard and do well academically in ­order to have bright ­career prospects.

Schools make them sit numerous tests and exams, which has given rise to criticism of the education system in Hong Kong. There have been calls for us to learn from more enlightened methods of schooling that you see in a number of countries, such as Finland.

Schools must change their approach and not just focus on academic achievements. They need to help youngsters grow as all-round people. It is important for them not just to learn about subjects, but about interpersonal relationships. Many Hong Kong children lack good communication skills.

Also, they will face many challenges in their lives and will not always succeed. They must be taught to be able to cope with these reversals in a mature way.

Of course, they must study academic subjects and there is important information they should learn. But, the present system is too harsh and needs to be ­reviewed and reformed in ­order to relieve the excessive stress that young people feel. If they can learn to ­develop good interpersonal relationships, then their levels of stress can go down.

I am not calling for a complete overhaul of the system, but the Education Bureau should recognise that there is a strong case for making appropriate modifications.

Tracy Chan Sum-yuet, Sha Tin

Students can learn to help themselves

In my primary school, I always felt bored because I needed to stay in the classroom for all my lessons.

I did not like the spoon-feeding system as I had to memorise a lot of material without fully understanding it. All the assignments, tests and exams put me under a great deal of pressure.

That pressure continues in secondary school with the ­Diploma of Secondary Education. If they get a bad result, some youngsters do not know how they can break the news to their family. They are worried that they will fail to get a university place or a good job. The pressure can be so great that some ­commit suicide.

When students feel ­extreme stress, they should seek help from their teachers and school social workers. They should also spend time with friends and find positive ways to relax, such as playing sports and listening to music.

They also need to talk a lot to family ­members and let them know the problems they are ­facing. Students cannot change the education system, but they can make positive changes in their lives.

Wong Check-wah, Tai Po