Online Letters, June 6, 2017
Not surprised mainland student appreciated genuine freedom in the US
Last month a Chinese graduate of the University of Maryland, Yang Shuping, praised the freedom and fresh air in the US in contrast to her own country. Following her graduation speech many pro-Beijing, pro-Communist Party netizens attacked her.
Some critics advised her to adopt more critical thinking when describing the US. Well, I’ve used my critical thinking skills and support about 90 per cent of what she said. The internet in China faces censorship from what is known as the Great Firewall. Citizens and the press cannot freely express their views and dissidents face persecution. Despite this, many people continue to blindly trust what the regime says.
What was wrong with Yang’s speech? If like her I went from the mainland to study in the US, I too would appreciate the freedoms enjoyed by people in America. The only reason for the Chinese netizens’ anger is that Yang did not follow the line of the standard patriot, because she did not kowtow to the regime.
Her critics accused her of bad-mouthing the motherland. That kind of stubborn attitude is one of the greatest obstacles to change in the nation and slows its progress towards ensuring justice and democracy for all Chinese citizens. In China it cannot be denied that dissidents continue to suffer.
Yang was right when she said, “Freedom is oxygen. Freedom is passion. Freedom is love.” Freedom gave her the opportunity to think critically and express different opinions. Even if her compatriots cannot agree with her, they had no right [as the Global Times did] to call her a “traitor”. China needs women and men who dare to criticise the regime and express diverse views. The motherland will face a better future if people stop blindly obeying the central government.
Perhaps, the only mistake she made was her comment on the air pollution in her home town. Although I have not been there, I understand that the air in Kunming is OK.
Henry Wong, Kennedy Town
Hong Kong badly needs a more diverse education system
On a recent morning when I was checking my Snapchat and Instagram accounts I noticed that some of my friends had been up since 4am. I wondered why they had got up so early and they told me, that day they had to sign up for tutorial classes. That made me appreciate the sick state of our local education system.
The aim of any education system should be to nurture students’ interest in learning. While they should learn a lot in the classroom, they should also be encouraged to explore on their own. But so often, with so many tests, secondary school students develop a hatred of the learning process. They come to terms with the fact that their priority is simply to get good results in the Diploma of Secondary Education, and this is why so many end up going to tutorial classes in the evening and during weekends.
Instead of enjoying exploring and acquiring knowledge, they focus on having good exam skills so they can get a university place.
There should be diversity in our education system. What young people are taught in schools should help them to unlock their potential and prepare them for the adult world. But students who have to attend tutorial classes must put their own interests to one side. They should be told that there are various avenues to success and university is only one of them.
Having good communication and leadership skills, and being creative are more important than academic results, especially in the workplace.
Students should be instilled with the right values in schools.
Angel Wong, Kwun Tong
Relax during summer break and avoid cram schools
Summer should be a time for young people to be outside enjoying the sun at one of our beaches. Instead, during the long break, many students from local schools will be inside in cram schools and other kinds of tutorial colleges.
Enrolment on these courses has just got underway and already you can see many young people queuing up at these centres to sign on for their courses. I think if you asked some of them why they are joining, they would reply that everyone else is doing it.
Because of the make-up of Hong Kong’s education system, students face a lot of competition. As their classmates are going to cram schools they feel they will be at a disadvantage if they don’t also enrol. They are worried that their fellow students might have the edge when it comes to exams, so they go the cram schools even if it is unnecessary.
Some youngsters do need to improve their exam skills and knowledge, and then the tutorial schools will be helpful. But I urge all students to think carefully about what they really need before deciding to spend their summer holidays in a cram school.
Leung Yiu-hei, Ho Man Tin
Everest climber could not put her own life at risk
I refer to Yonden Lhatoo’s column (“A little lesson in climbing Everest for Hong Kong’s armchair critics”, June 1).
I was pleased to read about the achievements of Ada Tsang Yin-hung, the city’s first woman to conquer the world’s highest mountain. This is an honour for Hong Kong. She said she climbed Everest for her students, to prove that you can do anything if you persevere.
Regarding the criticism of Ms Tsang that she should have given a bottle of oxygen to a dying climber as she was going towards the summit, she was faced with a difficult choice. However, was told by her Sherpa guide that giving her oxygen bottle would not save the man.
The fact is that had she given up some of her oxygen she would have put her own life at risk.
Chloe Ng, Po Lam
Time for government to make Uber legal in city
The car-hailing app Uber has become very popular in Hong Kong, however, it is facing problems in its efforts to become established in the city.
It is good news for people who are hired as Uber drivers, as it offers them an additional source of income. It is different from other lines of work such as being a teacher or accountant, as they can work flexible hours and might even be able to operate in areas near their home which is very convenient.
Many citizens who use Uber argue that they prefer it to taxis because it provides a superior service and they have greater choice. If they are willing to pay for it, they can be driven in a luxury car. They also talk about Uber drivers as having a better attitude than Hong Kong cabbies. Also, the company is upfront about the cost, how long the journey will take and what route will be chosen.
However, Uber drivers still face the risk of being arrested. Given its popularity it is time for the government to legalise Uber’s operations in Hong Kong. Citizens should be offered greater choice when it comes to transportation.
Donald Chan Wing-yin, Tseung Kwan O