Letters to the Editor, September 28, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 5:04pm

HK’s education system must be overhauled

A decent education is not affordable in Hong Kong, nor is it up to international standards.

A rigid system is in place, with children starting their education as young as three, so they do not miss out on future placements at kindergartens and schools. This means they are ­deprived of a normal childhood and their youth, the joys of ­playing and exploring a world they are supposed to inherit.

International schools here charge HK$3 million to HK$5 million for debentures and there are waiting lists. Their students’ goals are to get a ­degree and ­follow a career path outside Hong Kong. There is no intention to nurture local talent.

When it comes to education there are three stakeholders – parents, students and teachers.

The government should be a coordinator and facilitator, not a regulator. Sadly, our education secretary, Eddie Ng Hak-kim seems to be completely out of touch with what changes are needed in our education ­system.

A country, state or city that is not investing in its future, and making adjustments where needed, is doomed.

We have to make it clear to the government and vested ­interests that white elephant projects like the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, fast-train connection to Guangzhou and indeed a third runway, are getting in the way of nurturing, educating and investing in our future generation.

The last Legislative Council election proved that the days of the vested interests (old boys’ clubs) are over. So let’s turn the page. It is time for Mr Ng to be ­replaced. The new education chief must overhaul an education ­system that is at least 30 years out of date.

Hong Kong has a future for sure, but do we have the courage to invest in it?

Our tycoons will move out with their fortunes. This is the chance for Hongkongers to take their place and reshape the city into an affordable and educated society.

Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun

Peer rivalry raising pupils’ stress levels

I refer to the letter by Lydia Woo (“Parents can help reduce stress levels”, September 19).

I agree that the education system puts students under too much stress. And the problem is exacerbated by such a competitive environment with rivalry between peers, whether it is in their studies or in sports.

Youngsters find they are ­having to study harder than ever ­before to get higher marks.

Competition is not a bad thing; in fact it can be constructive, as can peer rivalry. But, when the pressure is just too much, it does more harm than good.

Students must learn to strike the right balance and lower stress levels by making the time to rest and relax.

Tommy Yeung,Tseung Kwan O

Thinking back to the birth of a movement

Occupy Central was launched on September 28, 2014, with the Love and Peace movement ­saying they would begin their civil disobedience campaign immediately.

These activists were protesting over the ruling of the ­Standing Committee of the ­National People’s Congress on the chief executive election for 2017.

Eventually the protests would collectively be known as the “umbrella movement”.

As I was thinking about this approaching the second anniversary, I remembered my thoughts when it started. I sat at home and watched the news. I didn’t realise what was going on and did not even join the school boycott.

However, since then in ­liberal studies classes I have learned a lot more.

Two years ago views were polarised with some people backing the protesters and ­others the government and the police.

I could see that they both had a case. The police had a duty to protect law and order in Hong Kong, the activists were fighting for freedom.

However, some protests turned violent and I did not agree with those protesters who went too far nor with police use of pepper spray.

Citizens and police have to reflect on this and recognise that these protests get worldwide news coverage. If there is ­violence, this can hurt Hong Kong’s reputation as a food and shopping paradise, and put off some potential ­visitors.

Two years later and now there is talk of independence, with the Hong Kong government condemning advocates who want Hong Kong to go it alone.

However, I do not understand why we should not talk about it. Why can’t students ­discuss independence in liberal studies classes? It is after all a core subject in schools and ­students have a right to know more about this topical issue.

Of course, it would not be feasible for Hong Kong to be an independent state.

The city does not have its own military and it cannot be self-sufficient, but that does not mean that people cannot talk about the concept of independence. The more they discuss it the more likely they are to realise that it is a non-starter.

Christy Lam, Po Lam

Establishment in France hypocritical

In his letter (“Why French take hard line over burqinis”, ­September 25), Francois Moirez attributes wearing a burqini as an obvious sign a person does not wish to accept the customs and habits of the country where they “have decided to live”.

Politicians too talk ­constantly about integration, and then proceed to push to the fringes the very women they claim are oppressed and ­excluded from society. Telling Muslim women they have to be at least semi-naked in order to prove their inclusiveness is ­astonishingly hypocritical.

In France, a nun in traditional dress is seen as going about her day, whereas a woman in a headscarf is taking over public space in the name of Islam. If there was any doubt that the French belief in freedom of ­expression is wholly one-sided, it has surely vanished now.

France cannot be in favour of free expression when it offends Muslims, but whines about provocation when Muslims and others choose to be different.

It seems that when the ­Saudis tell you how to dress it is oppression, but when France does it, it’s called liberation. If women in thongs and string ­bikinis can express themselves, who is being harmed if a women chooses to cover up on a beach?

A burqini is simply a ­garment, for example, for a modest person, someone with skin cancer, or a new mother who doesn’t want to wear a ­bikini. It is not symbolic of Islam. As sociologist Agnès De Féo said during an interview with CBS News, it is easier to ­accuse French Muslims “than to solve real social problems: unemployment, poverty, and social ­inequality”.

The French establishment talks about “liberty, equality, ­fraternity”. It claims to want Muslim women to achieve independence from their men, but deprives them of the means to acquire it, by keeping them ­indoors.

This is a betrayal of its own core values.

Siddiq Bazarwala, Discovery Bay

Carbon dioxide has beneficial role on earth

I refer to the letter by Lee Sai-ming, senior scientific officer of the Hong Kong Observatory (“There is clearly a significant warming trend”, September 16).

The temperature record since 1885 based on the Observatory’s headquarters station, in spite of the well-known urban heat island effect, has failed to show a clear-cut warming trend.

Two long pauses in temperature rise can be seen from the record. The most recent pause is from 1998 to 2015 (17 years) ­followed by an even longer pause from 1966 to 1998 (32 years).

The Observatory’s sea-level record in Victoria Harbour also shows a pause in sea-level rise from 1999 to 2015 (16 years).

Why does Mr Lee ­explain the warming trend since the mid-20th century entirely as a contribution of human influence through greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions?

Future generations will look back at the blunders the world is making now through resource wastage on reducing carbon dioxide while ignoring its beneficial role as a life-giving gas.

Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam