Letters to the Editor, January 11, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 4:34pm

Jockey Club has done a lot for society

With the escalating row over the Hong Kong Palace Museum, the government has found itself in hot water for not consulting the public.

Similarly, a spotlight has been put on the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s role as project funder. It has been alleged that the HK$3.5 billion pledged to the museum is part of a political exchange with the government, in return for “the addition of five horse racing days in June” (“Pressure builds for details of talks with Jockey Club”, January 7). However, I think the Jockey Club’s role here and, more broadly, the work its Charities Trust does for Hong Kong society should be put in context.

I have seldom paid much attention to the Jockey Club ­because I have zero interest in horse racing. However, ­reflecting on the news reports on the new museum made me realise that the club has touched my life in a number of ways.

It is primarily known as a horse racing organisation, but it is easy to forget the major contribution it has made to the city.

Wide-ranging donations for specific purposes from the club to the public are nothing new. My son is a proud graduate of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which was built with Jockey Club ­funding three decades ago.

I got to know the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre in Shek Kip Mei through my daughter, who goes to a pottery class there. I ­remember taking my granddaughter to see the popular “Life is Only One: Yoshitomo Nara” anime exhibition at the Former Explosives Magazine complex, a heritage site beautifully restored with Jockey Club funds. In 2014, I went with my grandson to see stunning models of giant dinosaurs at the Science Museum – again, an exhibition paid for by the Jockey Club. And it was only last week that I learned that Victoria Park, where I go swimming every week, was built with ­Jockey Club money in the 1950s.

The Jockey Club’s funding of the Palace Museum is just a continuation of the long-standing commitment to the arts, culture and general all-round community benefit of Hong Kong. As the city’s single biggest taxpayer (the extra race days in 2017 mean more money for charity), the Jockey Club has consistently served the public well, and more often than not, without us ever knowing.

Chan Shek-kwong, Ma On Shan

Priority should be to help out local artists

I am against Chief Secretary ­Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s proposal to build the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West ­Kowloon Cultural District.

This district should primarily be seen as a venue for local ­culture and local artists. It should offer locations which give them the opportunity to showcase their talent.

We have limited land ­resources in Hong Kong and the ­priority should be to fulfil the needs of local people, including the artistic community. Local artists do not have sufficient space to show off their work.

This problem can be solved with the right allocation of land resources at the West Kowloon ­Cultural District.

Building the proposed ­Palace Museum is not an appropriate use of these resources and so the project should not be ­allowed to go ahead. Hong Kong artists will struggle if they cannot display their work.

Christie Wong, Yau Yat Chuen

New museum will be popular with citizens

I think the proposed Palace ­Museum in West Kowloon ­Cultural District will be a great project.

It will offer citizens a new ­attraction and will be a ­different kind of museum which will be ­enjoyed by the public.

It will help Hongkongers learn more about Chinese ­history, as the Palace Museum in Beijing will lend some of its ­artefacts to us.

These relics will come from different dynasties and, because of these exhibitions, I think we will see interest in the nation’s history grow.

It is also good news for Hongkongers who ­cannot make the trip to Beijing to see the original Palace Museum. They may not be able to spare the time or may be put off from visiting the capital because of the really bad air pollution which is a cause for concern among ­tourists.

It will also enhance ­children’s understanding of Chinese history, with schools ­organising class trips to the new museum.

By opting for this new project, the government will be making good use of a part of the cultural ­district site. It will complement other activities organised at the cultural district, such as food festivals. People will visit the museum and then join in ­whatever events have been planned at the ­cultural hub.

I think it could also become a popular tourist attraction, as it will help visitors to learn more about Chinese history.

Also, I would like to see the government organising more special exhibitions in the city’s ­museums.

Kay Ng Wing-ki, Kwai Chung

Shortchanged by outdated school system

The education system in Hong Kong is not helping students reach their potential.

The spoon-feeding nature of teaching in local schools means some students may never find their gifts. They are not encouraged to take the initiative and perhaps discover hidden talent. It is an ancient system that has outlived its usage.

Those who cannot function in this environment are often left thinking they are stupid and useless, when this is not the case.

Creativity and ­individuality are discouraged. While education systems in other societies move with the times, accept change is ­necessary and modernise, this has not ­happened in Hong Kong.

Our local schools are still existing in a bygone age and there has been no real effort to improve matters for decades. History ­illustrates the need to embrace progress, going, for example, from the horse and carriage to the car, but our education ­system has not moved forward.

In almost a century, I would say that little has changed in the classroom in many ways.

There are still straight rows of desks like a factory assembly line. Students are told to sit still and raise their hands if they wish to speak. They get short breaks during their eight-hour day.

The world has moved on and we do not want an education ­system which produces ­“zombies”.

We need young ­people who can think creatively, critically and independently. The education system should not treat ­students in a ­one-size-fits-all way.

Teachers need to realise ­different students have different gifts and strengths. If the education system is to help society, changes are long overdue.

Benson Wong Tat-hin, Tseung Kwan O

Justice and equality for all under the law

While I acknowledge that ­Eunice Li Dan-yue is ­contributing to the debate about same-sex relationships that ­legislators should be taking up (“Same-sex marriage is against traditional teaching on ­families”, January 7), her prejudice has to be ­challenged.

As your correspondent so willingly uses the Bible for her benchmark of family life, I ­wonder how she responds to ­divorced ­parents, or those who work on Sundays?

How about married couples who do not (or cannot) have children? Would the writer have us believe that every ­marriage is one made in heaven?

It must be said that Hong Kong has neither superior nor inferior intellect on this matter. New Zealand and a raft of other countries have been through this debate and passed the ­necessary legislation long ago.

There should be justice and equality under the law for all.

N. K. Pearson, Tsuen Wan