Letters to the Editor, August 02, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 4:58pm

Encouraging older citizens in HK to save

I refer to Jake van der Kamp’s take on silver bonds in his ­column (“What put me off silver bonds despite reasonable yield”, July 28).

Firstly, he is not entitled to participate in the first tranche of these bonds as it closes today and Jake, as he mentions, is only 65 by December 31. The government has at this stage made no mention of further tranches. Sorry, out of luck, Jake.

Secondly, the bid to ­purchase these bonds via HSBC is as simple as five mouse clicks on their online web banking site. I had absolutely no problem with this process and was given full information by a friendly premier account manager to boot.

Thirdly, the government (via the Hong Kong Monetary ­Authority) is trying to encourage older Hong Kong citizens to save and to provide them with a government-backed bond with a guaranteed base interest rate. I also agree that these bonds should not be tradeable on the ­local stock exchange casino (oh sorry, I mean Hong Kong ­Exchanges & Clearing) in order to discourage quick flipping by rampant punters after the initial public offering. These are meant to be a savings vehicle for a ­period of at least three years.

Finally no mention of grovelling and pleading to cash in your bonds before the three-year term is up. Just apply.

Ian Johnston, Discovery Bay

Western New Territories missing out

A lawmaker and district councillor have been critical of the government’s 10-year development plan for public hospitals, saying it has allocated few resources to New Territories West.

There is a shortage of beds and manpower in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.

In general I welcome the overall HK$200 billion, 10-year plan (to cope with an ageing population) which will lead to the provision of 5,000 additional hospital beds throughout Hong Kong. This can help address the problem of a shortage of beds in public hospitals. Hopefully ­patients can then enjoy better treatment.

However, much of the additional resources are earmarked for central Kowloon.

Less will be done in the ­western New Territories with Tuen Mun Hospital being the only acute general facility in the ­district. The ratio of beds per 1,000 people in New Territories West is 2.2.

This is lower than the average of three, also below the target of 5.5 set by the government’s planning standards and guidelines.

However, the government may argue that these statistics are acceptable for an area in Hong Kong like New Territories West and that this indicates that there are enough beds for the present population. But, this does not present a true picture, as the government is now encouraging young families to move to this part of the New ­Territories.

Therefore, if the population increases then there could be a health-care shortage problem. All patients in Hong Kong ­deserve equal treatment when it comes to allocation of ­resources.

Yuen Ka-ki , Yau Yat Chuen

Teachers will always be indispensable

With rapid advances in new technology, questions have been asked about the possibility of computers being able to replace teachers in the classroom.

I do not think we will get to a point where students rely ­entirely on computers for instruction, but I think that they can play an important complementary role. They can be an ­effective teaching aid, but ­teachers will continue to be the main providers of education in the school environment.

A fundamental problem with computers is that they could never deal with issues involving morality and human emotions. Not everything that students learn is based entirely on facts and found in books. When it comes to what you learn in school, it is not just about ­acquiring academic knowledge so that you can do well in exams.

Teachers can instil the ­correct moral values, something computers are unable to do. ­Students needing some guidance when it comes to relationships will again turn to their teachers.

In this regard teachers have the benefit of their first-hand experience.

Troubled teens, ­including those contemplating suicide, can turn to a teacher. A computer would simply not be able to help them. You can only learn so much even from interactive software. And no matter how ­advanced it may be, it will often only provide model answers which are inadequate.

Even when using software for translation, for example, from Chinese to English, the software might not understand the nuances of the language in the way a language teacher can, and sometimes it is good for the students to make their own linguistic judgments and teachers can help.

While youngsters will ­continue to use computers at home and in school, teachers cannot be replaced.

Arina Ip, Yau Yat Chuen

Have more days without homework

Earlier this year a local primary school organised a “No Homework Day”.

While I welcomed this initiative I wondered why the school ­limited it to just one day when it could be extended.

Having these no homework days helps to take some of the pressure off students and does this straight away as on the designated day the pupils have no work to do in the evening and they are able to relax and spend time with family or friends.

Many youngsters have expressed discontent over their workload, so this helps to alleviate these feelings. It makes them and their parents, who have also voiced their concerns, feel that the school is listening to them.

Joyce Lee Cheuk-sin, Kowloon Tong

Making friends thanks to Pokemon Go

The location-based augmented reality game, Pokemon Go, has proved to be controversial.

Critics say that it can be dangerous, with some players straying into rough areas of cities and towns and getting attacked and robbed. But, while there may be a downside, I also think that it has brought many advantages.

You see a lot of families ­playing it together and this is helping to improve parent-child relationships. As they play the game they get to talking about various topics and this can only be a good thing.

It has also led to individuals becoming more sociable. They come into contact with other ­citizens on the street who are playing and start up conversations, often discussing with each other how many pokemons they caught on their smartphones.

Pokemon Go has become a hobby that helps people to ­widen their social circle. It also enables people to explore places they have not been to before.

People can really get a lot out of this game if they use it ­correctly.

Hillary Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Designated retirement age is wrong

I do not think there should be a designated retirement age.

In most countries which have legislation the retirement age is 65, but I think people should be able to retire when they want. There should no longer be some arbitrary limit.

I am sure there are many people who want to go on ­working after the age of 65. They may have a number of reasons, for example, a feeling that they will be bored if they have to stop.

I saw a film called The Intern (with Robert De Niro) where a 70-year-old man returned to the workplace. His new colleagues wondered if he could fit in, as he had some old-fashioned ideas, but he developed a special bond with his co-workers thanks to his wisdom and sense of humour.

There are many people who are forced to retire who can still make a contribution in the workplace.

Dorothy Tsang Mei-yu, Ho Man Tin