Letters to the Editor, November 5, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 November, 2016, 12:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 November, 2016, 12:19am

Influence fears over China aid are unfounded

Donald Kirk’s question in his ­article (“Just how far can Manila-Beijing friendship go?” October 27) brings to mind the famous saying that nations have no ­permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.

The permanent and ­common interest of the Philippines, China, Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the world should certainly be peace in the South China Sea. As President Rodrigo Duterte so astutely observed, what is the point of “insisting on a body of water when the world is exploding?”

General Omar Bradley said of the Korean War more than 60 years ago that it was a “wrong war, in the wrong place against the wrong enemy”.

His observation is just as appropriate today, especially for those advocating that America “fight tonight” in the South China Sea. Your editorialis right to call out the US navy’s dangerous and unwarranted gunboat policy (“US Navy playing dangerous game”, October 25).

Duterte’s talks in Beijing dealt only with economics. He can always decline any aid from China he feels uncomfortable with – China has no carrier strike groups to force him to do otherwise. Mr Kirk’s apprehension that China’s aid may bring subjugation is just unfounded fear-mongering.

W. L. Chang, Discovery Bay

Government losing plot on public opinion

I refer to the article (“Seven out of 10 Hongkongers think the city has become a worse place in which to live”, October 31).

I believe there are several reasons for this outlook. First, high property prices and the lack of public housing. High property costs make it very difficult for young people to buy or even rent. In places overseas, such as Singapore, the government ­provides enough public housing to solve this problem. So, our government should build more public housing and take administrative steps to cool property prices. Second, air pollution is serious and getting worse. Sound pollution robs citizens of a calm refuge in and air pollution may cause diseases such as lung cancer.

Third, the local education system, with its emphasis on spoon-feeding, restricts the overall development of children. There has been a spate of student suicides lately, which shows they are under great pressure. With schools overseas offering diverse learning options, more parents are choosing to send their children abroad.

Fourth, and probably the main reason, is the performance of the administration. Many Hongkongers are appealing for democracy, as seen in the “umbrella movement”.

But the government ignored their calls and even resorted to using violence against them. The high turnout in the Legislative Council elections in September showed people care about politics and would like to have a greater say in improving their livelihoods. The failure of the administration to address their concerns has given rise to dissatisfaction.

The government should try to improve the quality of life so that more people wish to remain and flourish in Hong Kong.

Angel Wan Yuet-sum, Kwai Chung

TSA adding to burden for young students

I agree with those who say that the Territory-wide System Assessment is useless in our education system(“Hong Kong lawmaker urges Education ­Bureau to scrap controversial test”, October 31).

In my view, TSA is a selfish product of the bureau. Its claimed purpose is to evaluate the skills of students in English, Chinese and maths. But is it ­necessary? Primary students are still children; whatever their learning ability or creativity, these have yet to fully develop.

However, TSA is forcing them to memorise complicated content like letter formats and difficult maths formulas.

As a secondary student, I was luckily spared the TSA in ­primary school, but couldn’t ­escape in Secondary Three.

In order to not bring shame on the school, a steady flow of notes, mock tests and homework came the way of students. I can’t see any reason to memorise these things given today’s advanced technology, and neither can I see any advantages the test brought to my school or me.

The bureau may think the TSA can help to assess and then improve academic standards, but it doesn’t. Multiple surveys have pointed to falling English-language skills in Hong Kong. The reason is very simple: students are not given time to enjoy English books or movies or other learning resources, the sole ­emphasis is on rote learning.

Students in Hong Kong are undoubtedly smart. However, most are educated under the wrong method.

Roslin Law, Tseung Kwan O

New stations could well see hopes derailed

I refer to the letter from Carol Mo Kai-wai (“New stations can ease road congestion”, November 1).

I do not agree that new MTR stations will really benefit local residents. The A3 exit for Ho Man Tin MTR station has a total of 562 steps. This is an unacceptably long daily climb, especially for the elderly.

The design of the single-track railway between Ho Man Tin and Whampoa stations means they will struggle to meet the demands of the rush hour. Some trains may have Ho Man Tin as the last station instead of Whampoa, and that may mean time costs for commuters.

Ms Mo also mentioned that demand for buses, minibuses and taxis in these areas is likely to drop, and so reduce congestion on the road. But demand will not drop drastically. Also, the MTR keeps raising prices, so some may prefer cheaper options.

Felix Leung, Po Lam

Seal of quality key to ending parallel trade

I agree with correspondents who say parallel traders are still a major problem in Hong Kong.

A vicious cycle has been ­created, with so many pharmacies opening to meet the ­demand for products like milk formula, while other stores and restaurants shut down.

Moreover, more teenagers in recent years would like to be parallel traders in the summer, since that pays much more than a part-time job. This can be very dangerous because, if they are caught and charged by customs officials, it can influence their ­future lives – when they want to go to university or find a job.

China should ensure that the quality of its goods is high and can be trusted. Mainland buyers will then not need to come to Hong Kong to buy their daily supplies, and less demand will mean locals won’t be tempted to become parallel traders.

Linda Lam, Sheung Shui

Healthy labels plan promises fitter society

I am writing in response to the article (“Hong Kong food products with healthy sugar or salt levels to be labelled for easier consumer choice”, October 27).

All pre-packaged foods bear labels showing nutrient content. But the new labelling scheme aims to provide a clearer and easier means to identify healthy choices, under four categories: “low sodium”, “no sodium”, “low sugar” and “no sugar”.

A high-sodium diet could cause high blood pressure, fluid retention and dehydration, and greater risk of heart and kidney disease. Again, sugars in high amounts may cause weight gain or tooth decay, and increase risks of hypertension, diabetes and depression.

The new labelling system will help people identify healthy food and so have a healthy diet, and help the sick towards faster recovery.

Chloe Kwok Hiu-yu, Kwai Chung