Letters to the Editor, April 15, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 9:02am

Old buildings could help ease homes crunch

The housing shortage is one of the major problems in Hong Kong, and the government has announced that one million flats will need to be built in the next three decades.

All three candidates in last month’s chief executive election focused on the housing shortage in their campaign platforms. This only goes to show how ­severe the problem is.

Hong Kong’s growing population means more flats will be needed in the future. Therefore, the government needs to build more public housing to alleviate the shortage. However, there is not enough land for this. There have been proposals to solve the problem by developing the country parks and rural areas, but these suggestions sparked a huge debate in society and also sparked a lot of criticism, especially from environmental ­protection groups.

Undoubtedly, developing rural areas may be a good solution, if the government can strike a balance between building public housing and environmental protection. But why doesn’t the government ­redevelop old urban areas?

There are some old buildings lying unused around in the city, and these can be redeveloped to build flats. For example, in Kwun Tong many old buildings are now being rebuilt. If more such redevelopment projects are launched, the city’s housing stock will increase. Old buildings can also be upgraded with all necessary fire safety features.

If the renewal projects are done in the right way, then some of these areas could become popular with tourists, and bring economic benefits to the shops and business owners in the area.

The living standards of residents would then improve. What is more, a large number of flats can be provided by simply increasing the building height. Such projects would help the government to strike a balance ­between the environment and the need to provide more homes, and therefore achieve sustainable development.

Carly Fung, Tseung Kwan O

Workloads taking a toll on medical staff

There have been several reports of medical blunders in Hong Kong’s public hospitals recently.

Medical care in Hong Kong is better than that in many countries, thanks to our professional doctors and nurses, and high class technologies. However, public hospitals are facing a ­serious shortages of doctors.

Given this shortage, doctors on staff need to work longer hours and it is easy to slip up. We feel doctors are professionals who should not make mistakes. But if even Superman were to treat patients for 72 hours at a stretch, I am sure he would fall asleep on the job.

If we want to maintain our high standards of medical care, we need to use hospital resources properly and reduce the workload of doctors. We could even import doctors from overseas so that medical staff get more rest and the chances for blunders are reduced.

Tsang Mau-ki, To Kwa Wan

City still lacks awareness on organ donation

Hong Kong has suffered from a shortage of organ donors for years. The city has an opt-in scheme for organ donation, but I believe the proposed opt-out scheme is long overdue.

The controversy ­regarding the opt-out scheme involves its perceived violation of human rights and freedom. The present opt-in scheme lets citizens sign up for voluntary ­organ donation upon death, while under the opt-out scheme all citizens automatically become organ donors when they die.

The opt-out scheme has come under fire as people think it disrespects Chinese traditional beliefs of “keeping the corpse whole”, and because it provides for no consultation with family members of the deceased before the organs are harvested.

However, there are actually two ways to adopt an opt-out scheme: rigid or flexible. The ­former strictly enforces organ donation, while in the latter family members are consulted before donation is confirmed.

Honk Kong is ready for a flexible opt-out scheme. It can deal with the legal and medical issues, but entrenched lack of public participation is a different matter.

­Despite years of government promotion with street banners and even bus display screens, Hongkongers still fail to show awareness and understanding of voluntary organ donation, which is why the opt-in scheme is a great failure.

Damon Wong Kwun-tsung, Hang Hau

No TSA may also mean no urge to excel

I refer to the campaign to abolish the Territory-wide System ­Assessment. Some parents’ groups and activists are publicising the perceived negative ­effects of TSA. But scrapping the test would have advantages and disadvantages.

First, it will mean less pressure on students, both at home and in school. Parents tend to focus on academic results and students unable to enter university are seen as less competitive. Children may also be made to join many extracurricular activities to increase their competitiveness. Moreover, schools often assign more tests and homework to help boost their ranking. Students face a lot of pressure and have little time for sleep and exercise, and are ­deprived of a normal childhood. Cancelling the TSA can let them have a healthy lifestyle and good mental health.

On the other hand, without such a uniform test, the schools cannot judge overall performance or divide students into classes based on performance. As a result, schools and teachers cannot offer specific, tailor-made guidance to children. Moreover, students would have less motivation to study hard and get good academic results.

Natalie Siu Hoi-tung, Yau Yat Chuen

Nothing ‘easy’ about critical DSE exams

This year’s Diploma of Secondary Education examination started earlier this month, and is a hot topic currently.

Many people are saying that the Chinese and Liberal Studies papers this year were easier compared to the last few years. As a result, it is being expected that students will find it easier to gain a university place.

However, easier exam papers do not mean there is a higher chance of getting into university.

The nature of the exam remains unchanged, given the education system in Hong Kong. Therefore the public, and especially parents, ought to put themselves in the students’ shoes and not underestimate the ultra-competitiveness of the DSE exams.

Appreciation and encouragement are more constructive for students facing the pressure and the burden posed by these exams, rather than the creation of unreasonable expectations.

Fung Kam-Chi, Hung Hom

‘Brilliant’ boys and ‘shy’ girls outdated idea

A recent study in the US trying to understand the ­reluctance of girls to study ­subjects like science, maths or technology recognised that gender stereotypes persist.

Such stereotypes in our age of gender equality can have negative effects on young minds and affect future prospects. The most common stereotype is of boys being more “brilliant”, active and better at logical thinking, while girls are more shy and ­emotional. These brainwash us and imprison us in outdated moulds.

I think stereotypes are ­destroying children’s confidence; as the study said, little girls are already convinced that boys are better for no reason. So girls may end up being less ambitious in life or in studies, or be afraid of failure, as they feel they are not inherently capable of excelling at subjects like ­science, maths and technology.

Stereotypes can hold back boys as well, making them reluctant to study “softer” subjects, such as literature or dance.

Mary Ng Ka-yan, Kwai Chung