Letters to the Editor, January 18, 2017
Citizens can do their bit to fight air pollution
I believe the regular occurrence of smog in parts of the mainland is mainly caused by emissions from the many factories.
There are so many industrial plants as a result of China’s rapid economic development.
However, when the pollution gets really bad, this becomes harmful to the nation’s economy and to the health of citizens who suffer various diseases, including respiratory ailments. Some animals will lose their habitats.
People try to cope with the problem by wearing masks, but individuals can take action to try and improve the situation.
Many continue to drive their cars into polluted cities to go to work.
They need to find ways to reduce the frequency of private car use, by taking public transport where possible or even walking if it is a relatively short distance. They should be trying to avoid using coal to heat their homes and looking at ways to use renewable energy sources where this is possible.
Lifestyle changes can help to improve matters on the mainland. I am not saying individual citizens can solve the problem of severe smog, but they can help to make a difference.
Samantha Situ, Yau Yat Chuen
Right policies will cut traffic congestion
I completely agree with Ian Brownlee that the government should take action to tackle traffic congestion in Hong Kong (“Stop HK grinding to a halt”, January 8) and I have a few more ideas.
First, the government could introduce closed-circuit television to issue tickets for illegal parking. CCTV is used for this purpose in some cities, including London and Shenzhen.
Second, roads can be made less car-friendly. This policy was implemented in the UK by Brighton and Hove City Council. It closed one of the two lanes on the main road leading to the city. It has been changed into a bus and cycle lane. This has resulted in fewer people wanting to drive, and more residents using public buses and bicycles.
Cosmo Lo, Lai Chi Kok
Students must learn to cope with pressure
A recent survey showed that schoolchildren’s level of happiness had dropped to a new low and the main reason was the heavy workload students face.
The problems with the local education system will not be solved in the short term. Students have to accept this and try to work out ways to deal effectively with the pressure they are under.
I accept that the spoon-feeding education system means that youngsters do have to study too hard. Many are forced to aim for very difficult goals, and for some, this can be unrealistic and they lose self-confidence.
Often, the main aim is to get a place at a university, but this can mean that there is a lot of rote-learning so they can do well in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam. But they should be trying to acquire knowledge, rather than learning just to get high scores in major exams.
Children who study too hard may not get enough sleep and so develop health problems. This is a real problem if they have a lot of tutorial classes and extracurricular activities after school. They are left with little or no time to relax. This can make them even more stressed and is a factor when it comes to the high suicide rate.
Schools should be educating students to manage their time well and should ensure they are given all the support they need.
They must learn how to deal with the pressure they feel that comes from different sources, including workload and parents’ expectations. They should be able to talk to parents if they have problems, and to friends. And they need to find ways to relax, such as listening to music.
Like other students, I do not like the city’s spoon-feeding education, but we have to accept reality and find ways to deal with it, so that we can achieve our goals.
Rachel Hui, Yau Yat Chuen
Playing is important for all children
Many parents in Hong Kong want their children to join the elite in society when they grow up. So they try to ensure they succeed at school by signing them up for a lot of extracurricular activities. They want their children to do well in this competitive environment, but is it really benefiting their sons and daughters?
Some of them end up having very little time to relax.
They may be forced to learn a lot even before they enter primary school, but at that age all they really want to do is play. And parents have to recognise that playing is very important to children and they have to be allowed a lot of time to rest.
Playing enables them to explore their surroundings and helps them develop a sense of curiosity. It helps with the development of cognitive functions.
And it helps them expand their vocabulary, deal with stress and increases their interest in learning.
Playing also helps nurture their personalities. Parents need to realise the positive advantages of play rather than just focusing on academic results. For example, if young people grow up not having learned to socialise, how can they hope to impress a potential employer when going for a job interview?
If they have a bad attitude, they might struggle to get a good job even if they have achieved impressive academic results.
Children in Hong Kong are entitled to enjoy a wonderful childhood.
Lee Wing-ting, Lai Chi Kok
Education is key to raising awareness
You see a lot of government posters and adverts encouraging people to register as organ donors, emphasising that donors can save people’s lives.
However, because of traditional social values, many citizens ignore these adverts and do not register. I think citizens should be willing to join the centralised organ donation register. If they do not, then we will have an increasing number of patients waiting in vain for an organ transplant.
It is difficult to imagine how hard things are for these patients facing the long, sometimes fruitless wait, often confined to a hospital bed. They cannot lead normal lives with family and friends.
I think the key to improving this state of affairs is education. Through better education, more citizens can learn about the importance of registering as organ donors, especially if they are made aware of the severe shortage of available organs in Hong Kong. I am sure once they are aware of this problem, and how simple it is to log on and register, we will see an increase in the number of donors.
Daniel Ho, Tseung Kwan O
Minorities need help with language skills
The language barrier is making it difficult for people from ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong to find jobs.
They have a particular problem with written Chinese, because most employers demand proficiency in speaking and writing the language. This makes it more difficult for them to integrate into society.
Ethnic minority citizens can also face discrimination from some local residents who hold prejudices.
The government needs to do more to help people from minority groups reach the required level of language proficiency (reading and writing) so that they can apply for good jobs and make a contribution to society. Financial incentives can also be offered to firms which hire employees from minorities, such as a lower profits tax rate.
The government should also promote the importance of racial tolerance through adverts on TV, radio and social networking sites, in an attempt to raise levels of awareness.
Kathleen Kong Hoi-hung, Hang Hau