Letters to the Editor, May 11, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 May, 2017, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 May, 2017, 4:31pm

Press freedom is essential for a fair society

Hong Kong has slipped four spots down the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index to 73rd place.

There are concerns that press freedom is deteriorating in Hong Kong. It is a basic human right and matters to all citizens, whoever they may be.

We are entitled to have ­access to accurate information in a free society.

If that is not available, or is less readily so, then how can we ­assess how the government of Hong Kong is performing?

Also, without brave reporters, we would not learn about the scandals on the mainland and the revelations of corruption. On the index, the mainland was ranked at 176 out of 180, just a little higher than North Korea, which was in last place.

A free press has helped me to learn about allegations of overspending by the government, for example, on the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. With more self-censorship, we might be kept in the dark about such issues for a long time after economic losses have been sustained.

A free press ­enables students like me to have a well-rounded grasp of events around the world. It guarantees that fairness and justice can be ­preserved in society. Having such an open society helps young people to think independently.

Crystal Wang, Yau Yat Chuen

Pre-handover promises not all being kept

The central government has ­expressed anger over prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy ­activists (including Martin Lee Chu-ming) addressing a US congressional panel on the situation in the city, 20 years after the handover (“Outrage as Hong Kong democracy campaigners urge US to get tough with ­Beijing”, May 4). Beijing may be angry, but foreign hearings like this can help to protect Hong Kong’s cherished freedoms.

If countries like the US can stay vigilant, we would have a better chance of preventing the decay of our core values. The fact is Beijing has failed to keep all the promises it made during the pre-handover talks with the UK that led to our mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

The latest example is the ­interpretation of the Basic Law regarding pro-independence lawmakers. The “high degree of autonomy” promised to Hong Kong has deteriorated since the handover. Therefore, it is good for foreign nations to monitor what is happening here, so our basic freedoms are protected.

If the central government responded to these hearings in a positive way, this would ­enhance its reputation and prove it was willing to honour the obligations made in ­internationally recognised agreements. Beijing should not object to hearings such as the one held in Washington.

Zoyi Wong, Kowloon Tong

Pollution fight stronger with small changes

Pollution in its various forms is a serious problem in Hong Kong. While the government is trying to tackle this, the problem ­cannot be solved overnight.

However, citizens can help by trying to be more environmentally friendly, in order to save our environment.

One thing we can all do is try to cut back on food waste. Eliminating leftover food completely is not realistic, but when we eat out we can bring a container to take away the food that we are unable to finish. This can reduce the volumes of food waste that end up in our landfills.

With regard to roadside air pollution, citizens who drive can try when possible to use public transport. Hong Kong offers so many public transport options, including buses, ­minibuses and the MTR.

Finally, when we go shopping, we should bring our own reusable bag instead of asking for a plastic bag each time.

Wong Nok-Lam, Po Lam

Universal plan for pension is long overdue

The government has proposed pension reforms, but more must be done as there are still so many elderly people living in poverty.

It saddens me when I see an elderly citizen who lives under the poverty line, having to scavenge for cardboard boxes which they sell for recycling. Why should they have to live like this when they contributed so much to the city?

I would support the introduction of a universal pension, which would assure such citizens of a comfortable old age. And this scheme should be introduced as soon as possible.

Melanie Chan, Yau Yat Chuen

Let students take charge of outdoor trips

I do not agree with your correspondent Ip Sing-leong (“Schools should organise more outdoor trips”, May 8). While such trips are a good idea, I think they should be organised by the students themselves.

Outdoor excursions should help students to develop their planning and communication skills, and learn about teamwork. However, so often in Hong Kong, the school arranges everything, such as the destination and transportation.

Also, students rely on teachers to give them all the information they need about the trip, so it fails to achieve its purpose.

Schools should certainly ­offer advice, but organising the trip should be left to students.

They should discuss as a group where they want to go and what activities to do. They can then check out transport ­options and the desired route. This would help them to develop planning and problem-solving skills. As I said, the schools can help and advise, but the bulk of the planning should be done by the youngsters.

I do think there should be more of these outdoor excursions as they offer a healthy alternative to spending all day sitting in a classroom.

Winny Lai Man-ting, Kwun Tong

Excursions can help to relieve study stress

The education system in Hong Kong is extremely competitive and students tend to focus only on academic results. This can leave them feeling stressed out, as several surveys have shown.

They rarely go on outdoor trips and lack adequate physical education lessons. Therefore I agree with Ip Sing-leong about the need for more excursions for students.

These excursion should ­involve healthy activities such as hiking, and students should always be encouraged to take the initiative, such as in working out the walking route.

This is good training for them for teamwork and planning. Also, being out in the open and enjoying nature can help to alleviate the stress they may feel from the pressure of studies.

Jenny Chung, Tseung Kwan O