Letters to the Editor, May 27, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 5:05pm

Subject still too sensitive for open debate

May 16 marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

Mao’s aim was to restore himself as China’s paramount leader. He also wanted to purge capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society.

The Cultural Revolution paralysed the country politically and disrupted social harmony. After Mao’s death and Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) rise to power, the Chinese Communist Party, while officially condemning the Cultural Revolution, limited public discussion of it.

Those limits remain in force, but it is clear that there are ­diverse opinions on the mainland about the Cultural Revolution. It is still a controversial and sensitive subject in China and its influence continues to this day.

Many of those who lived through it suffered a great deal, from, for example, public denunciations and the loss of loved ones. Others associated with the Red Guards benefited from the tumultuous events.

I can understand the Communist Party’s reluctance to have an active ­debate on the subject. Further discussion will only divide ­Chinese society and we could see open hostilities between those who agree with what ­happened ­during the Cultural Revolution and those who do not.

The central government fears that an open debate and the effect it would have could undermine its authority. It does not want to see a return to the chaos of that dark period.

An open and widespread ­discussion over a period which caused so much misery and suffering could reopen old wounds.

Beijing must feel it is enough that the government declared that the policies introduced by Mao during this period were “incorrect”.

However, in Hong Kong, we can discuss fully and freely, without there being a negative impact on our society.

Despite their political differences on other issues the pan-democratic and pro-Beijing parties have the same views about the Cultural Revolution. Therefore any discussion on it and the effect it had on Hong Kong with the 1967 riots will not cause disharmony in our city.

Anson Tam, Mid-Levels

Downside to having more universities

I refer to the letter by Samantha Situ (“Students under pressure with limited places”, May 20).

I accept that all students in Hong Kong are entitled to an education, whether they come from an affluent or a low-income household.

However, does that necessarily mean that more tertiary institutions should be built here?

In some countries, like ­Taiwan and the US, there is no shortage of such institutions. They churn out a large number of university graduates each year.

If that happened here, there would be so many university graduates in the city, their ­degrees would no longer be held in such high esteem by prospective ­employers.

If you have a society where virtually everyone is entitled to a place at a university, job prospects for many of them when they graduate will be ­limited and this will lead to many young people feeling frustrated about the future.

Ivan Lam, Tin Shui Wai

Mother-tongue teaching must be scrapped

The government appears to be indifferent to the declining ­standard of English in Hong Kong.

­I agree with those who attribute it to the expansion of mother-tongue teaching in schools.

Students at schools where the medium of instruction is English have a greater exposure to the language.

They study all their subjects in English. This ­increases their vocabulary.

At a Chinese medium-of-instruction school, pupils might only get about eight one-hour English lessons a week, so their vocabulary bank is much smaller and this puts them at a disadvantage.

Before the handover, schools studied most subjects in English and English standards were better.

Hong Kong is an international city, therefore the government should be taking concrete action to promote English.

One way of doing this is to scrap the mother-tongue ­teaching scheme in local schools.

If English standards keep falling, Hong Kong’s reputation will be damaged.

Cheuk Hei-mong, Lohas Park

Emergency fee is low to help poorer citizens

I do not support the growing calls for the emergency services fee at public hospitals to be ­increased from HK$100 to HK$200.

The main reason I am against such a proposal is ­because it would put financial pressure on poorer ­citizens.

When they are sick, people on low incomes would choose a public rather than a private hospital. The present HK$100 fee is kept at this rate to protect these people. I accept that the pressure on public hospitals has increased, but doubling the emergency fee is not the best way to deal with the problem.

The government must review how it allocates resources to these hospitals. Surely a ­system could be devised where patients in the busiest hospitals can be diverted to those hospitals which are less crowded.

Tiffany Wong, Sham Shui Po

Mixed estates bring together generations

I would back the government if it built housing estates which allocated space specifically for elderly residents.

This would ensure there was a generational mix, with young and old living in the same ­estates.

People talk about generation gaps in society and I think such housing schemes, if they are ­developed in the city and ­become widespread, could help bridge that gap, with older and younger residents exchanging ideas.

Given that it is an international financial centre, Hong Kong is a well-developed city. However, it still has some way to go before it can be described as a harmonious city.

With these estates, we can go a long way towards having greater harmony. And such harmony also applies in a wider sense. There would be fewer misunderstandings between the government and the public if it ­carried out policies which ­people saw as being feasible.

I would like to see these housing schemes being planned in the near future.

Pianka Lam, Yau Yat Chuen

Angered by disruptive lawmakers

Thanks to filibustering tactics in the Legislative Council chamber, legislation is held up and taxpayers’ money is wasted.

We have lawmakers preventing a quorum at a committee meeting by not turning up. What they are doing is a job like any other and yet they sometimes choose not to do that job.

Then you have even worse behaviour from some legislators throwing objects at senior officials and the chief executive in the chamber. So, if you’re not happy with the chief executive, you throw something at him. If you don’t want a bill passed, you carry out a filibuster.

The pan-democrats who employ these tactics are abusing their power. The voters chose them to represent their views, not to act like clowns.

By their actions, they are undermining the reputation of Hong Kong.

Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O