Online Letters Page, April 25, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 4:50pm

More must be done to help low-income families

The lives of people from the grass roots in Sham Shui Po have been deteriorating (“Living conditions in Hong Kong’s poorest district have got worse in last four years”, April 23). This has happened despite the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty.

The survey by the Young Women’s Christian Association has shown that Sham Shui Po residents now face greater stress over livelihood issues, such as high rents, inadequate health-care services and costly daily living expenses. Compared with four years ago, they are now paying more, especially when it comes to rents which just keep rising. They listed “an average of 11.5 items on their so-called stress list last year, compared with 9.6 items in 2012”.

The government has not done enough to tackle inflation or the proportionately high rents of subdivided units. And things just get worse for those grass-roots citizens who either struggle to find work or are unable to work.

The government must try to do more to curb rising house prices and it must increase its house-building programme. It also needs to introduce more policies aimed at improving the living standards of grass-roots families. Programmes should be introduced that increase their job opportunities so they are less reliant on the government.

The administration must also offer more help to NGOs which work with and help citizens on low incomes.

Chow Ka-wing, Kwai Chung

Exams are putting local students under too much stress

Every year thousands of local students face the stress of public exams and every year critics opine that standards have fallen and the quality of the next generation has declined.

Many of these young people face the worry of wondering about their prospects when they leave school. The fact is that the education system is unbalanced and because of its flaws many students are not sufficiently prepared to deal with all the challenges they will face in society.

The way the exam system is structured students are forced to memorise a lot of information. In effect they become exam machines. Many of them have to attend tutorial classes and practise a lot of exam papers.

The simple fact is that these exams in local schools create too much stress for students. Many are working until late at night and so they fall asleep in class. If they are working so hard and subjected to a spoon-feeding regime, they have no time to relax and develop their full potential. Teachers rely too much on textbooks in the classroom and it comes down to helping students score maximum points in tests and exams.

Students are not encouraged to think for themselves so they can prepare for the real world and the society where they will have to find work.

The current Hong Kong education system is too exam-oriented and changes are needed to help youngsters learn more diverse skills which will help them in their future lives. Reforms are long overdue and the government can learn from countries like Finland.

Wong Sze-ka, Kowloon Tong

Bike-for-hire scheme faces uphill struggle

The bike-sharing scheme which has just been launched would appear to be not just environmentally-friendly, but because the charges are reasonable, can help the underprivileged get around more easily.

However, the disadvantages outweigh the positive aspects of this new project. I am not convinced it will prove popular with citizens. I am worried that some people when they hire the bike for a short trip will not bring the necessary safety equipment with them such as a helmet. Most cyclists stick to the cycle tracks in the New Territories, but if some people try to use the bikes in urban areas of the city, they could be at serious risk.

I am also not sure how popular it would be because of Hong Kong’s terrain. In so many parts it is very hilly with far less flat land and this can put people off cycling. That is why people often prefer to use public transport.

I do not know if the company launching this scheme can find ways round these problems, because there is no doubt that cycling offers a greener option than other forms of transport.

Kenny Tong, Tseung Kwan O

Downside to environmentally-friendly initiative

Citizens using the new bike-for-hire scheme are definitely choosing an environmentally-friendly option.

It is also convenient as it is far easier to find a place to leave a bike than a parking space on a road for a private car.

However , I can see some disadvantages. Firstly, Hong Kong does not have an extensive network of cycling tracks. While there are tracks in parts of the New Territories, in busy urban areas like Central and Mong Kok they would have to share the road with vehicles. Many Hongkongers are not experienced cyclists so they could put themselves and other road users at risk. This is especially the case if they have never owned a bicycle, and use this rental scheme but have poor riding skills.

I would be worried about children using the bikes, especially if they were unsupervised by adults. If the scheme takes off the company running it will have to consider if it should be expanded within the city.

Zoe Chung Ka-man, Po Lam

Trump sending strong message to North Korea’s dictator

When president-elect Dwight Eisenhower was visiting US troops on the Korean front in December 1952, I pondered what all of this might mean to a newspaper boy. After all, my customers were depending upon me to carry the news of the Korean conflict to their homes every night. Television was virtually unknown in those days and the Grand Island Independent was an indispensable medium of communication in our community..

In a recent article in The Guardian Matthew d’Ancona said, “After decades of dithering over the regime, it’s time for Eisenhower-style deterrence to will the peace.” Little did it occur to the Americans serving on the Korean front in the early 1950s that the two countries would be on the verge of war nearly 70 years later.

If anything, US President Donald Trump’s dispatch of an “armada” to the western Pacific, coupled with US military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, is likely to convey the president’s modus operandi to the North Korean dictator. Perhaps, as d’Ancona points out, “he will understand that he is being offered a choice between diplomacy and its opposite.”

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US