Letters to the Editor, April 22, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2017, 9:00am

Give children room to spread their wings

Schoolchildren these days often have calendars that are as packed as those of their parents, if not more.

Besides school, many wake up to an endless chain of extra-curricular activities at weekends and during school holidays, as parents are under immense peer pressure to ensure their kids do not lose out in the race to develop point-scoring skills or build up a competitive portfolio for entry into elite schools.

But do we know where the interests or talents of children lie? Instead of imposing what we think they like or determining what is good for them, shouldn’t our duty be to give them room to explore their potential?

Last Sunday, I took my two children, both under 10, to the Riding High Together Festival organised by the Jockey Club at Sha Tin Racecourse. The event dished up a variety of games and arts and crafts activities for kids – from traditional art forms such as Tai Hang fire dragon crafting and African drum workshops, to innovative entertainment that mixed virtual reality with sports.

What surprised me was that my children happily went for tasks that we never thought would come naturally to them.

My chatterbox of a son found he enjoyed Chinese paper-cutting and Western calligraphy because, in his words, he could “be left alone and create ­something quiet and beautiful”.

Meanwhile, my normally quiet daughter made multiple attempts at a climbing wall, as if she wanted to make a point to us that she could be just as athletic as her brother. It was astonishing, and very heartwarming, to see the range of challenges children will readily take on if given the right opportunities.

Personally, the highlight of the sun-kissed Easter festival was how a section of Penfold Park was turned into an equestrian cross-country track. I have never seen anything like that in a public green space in Hong Kong, and I was fondly reminded of the early 1960s when, as a child, I could enjoy the buzz of horse racing from the fields ­inside Happy Valley ­Racecourse.

Lai Oi-kwan, Tai Po

Education in HK must go beyond books

According to a ­recent survey, many Hong Kong students are not happy with their lives. Some even have a pessimistic attitude towards life. This phenomenon deserves our attention.

Many students fail to achieve good academic results and feel frustrated, because the education system in Hong Kong is too exam-oriented. Students must bear in mind that failure to achieve good ­academic results is not a problem in itself, ­provided they have tried their best; it is values that matter.

They should also understand that everyone has their own strengths. Even if they are not good at studies, they may still have talents in other areas.

Students may be interested in sport, music or art and want to develop their abilities in these areas, but they have no time to do so as they have to spend most of their ­waking hours studying.

To solve this problem, the Education Bureau should affirm the importance of whole-person education. There is excessive pressure on students because teachers and parents regard studying as the only important matter in life. If the bureau were to seriously back whole-person education, adults will also change their attitudes.

Finally, students should maintain a good relationship with their parents and friends, and keep the lines of communication and mutual understanding open. Such loving support goes a long way in helping to meet challenges.

Victoria So Wan-tung, Tsuen Wan

Single women facing undue social pressure

I am writing in response to the article on online dating fraud (“Why more and more Hong Kong women are falling victim to online dating scams”, April 15). Among all the reasons cited by the article, the one that stood out was the gender imbalance.

By the end of 2015, there were 571,700 more women than men in Hong Kong. This imbalance makes women turn to internet dating, as they may feel finding a partner online is a ­better alternative to being single.

However, some may be so eager to find a boyfriend that they fail to be alert and cautious in dealing with potential suitors in cyberspace.

We also can’t overlook the role of marriage pressure in making single women rush into relationships. Women are often more competitive than men in the workplace. They are usually well-educated, highly paid and well-groomed. Many of their male colleagues or other ­acquaintances may find that rather intimidating.

Men may not feel competent enough to propose marriage to them. However, women in the city are often under marriage pressure from parents, friends and their extended families.

They may feel they have no choice but seek a more easy way out in order to find a boyfriend and get married as soon as ­possible. That pushes many women to online dating, and they fall ­victim to scamsters.

Women have to be more cautious when they chat and meet people online, in order to better protect themselves. The government should also step up public awareness campaigns of the dangers of online dating.

Tiffany Cheung Yi-lok, Yau Yat Chuen

No excuse for United over forced eviction

One of the hottest talking points this month was how a Asian-American passenger was dragged off a United Airlines flight to make room for its staff.

The news shocked people around the world, and many said the forced removal was indicative of discrimination against Asians.

No matter whether racism exists at United Airlines or not, treating customers in this way is unacceptable. United said they hadn’t overbooked the flight. But four passengers were asked to vacate their seats for crew members who were needed in Kentucky the following day.

This reflects that the airline did not put customers first, and has an irresponsible attitude ­towards customer relationships, which is unacceptable for a large-scale international carrier.

What annoyed me most was the way in which the Asian-American passenger was dragged out. He was ­injured, and filmed with a bleeding face. He did not do anything wrong but still received such horrible treatment.

The global outrage it sparked has damaged United’s reputation. I hope it will learn from this and prevent such an ­incident ever taking place again.

Ng Tsz-ki, Kowloon Tong

Start talking about flats in country parks

The Development Bureau is identifying sites of low ecological value on the periphery of country parks for the building of residential properties.

Many say country parks are invaluable assets, as they are the lungs of Hong Kong. Conservative environmental activists even insist country parks could never be exploited.

However, amid a land shortage and surging residential property prices and demand, we must look into every possible way to resolve the housing issue. Developing part of our country parks is one possible way.

I believe it is time for the ­community to discuss the use of country park land for housing. More people will be able to ­afford homes if land of lower ecological value is exploited.

Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin