Letters to the Editor, October 7, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 9:03am

Textbooks can be reused for sake of landfills

Barry Dalton’s notion of “Wanton waste” of old textbooks, as “an appalling use of resources and a terrible burden on parents” struck a chord with me (“Textbooks are thrown away in wasteful city”, September 25).

I agree wholeheartedly with the need to change Hong Kong’s throwaway mentality. This could be helped if people ­accepted the use of ­second-hand textbooks.

As a student, I see clearly how many books have hardly been used before being dumped. Additional notes for different subjects are often printed out for students, and sometimes the notes will be used to teach instead of the books. Students do most of their work and take notes on these printouts, not touching the ­textbooks they bought.

By the time a student finishes school, parents will have spent about HK$60,000 on buying books. This is not only a huge financial burden, especially for those parents on lower incomes, but the volume of textbooks also takes a heavy toll on our landfills.

Trees, also, are an invaluable resource for the planet, and should not be sacrificed unnecessarily for the textbook industry We should figure out a way to stop the waste.

Helen Chan, Ho Man Tin

Rote learning and exam focus not smart

Hong Kong’s education system has been criticised for its spoon-feeding of students who learn by rote to score high marks in exams. Educators provide numerous teaching materials and students merely have to regurgitate their notes onto the written papers.

Rote learning undermines the critical thinking skills of youngsters and unfortunately nowadays too many students simply copy notes from teachers, without digesting new ideas. These students are not stretched intellectually because they are inclined to believe everything shown on the screen, instead of judging the merits on their own.

It is a vicious cycle: while youngsters are exposed to this learning mode, they cannot ­acquire logical and critical thinking skills. They should be given some elbow room to do more of what they want so they can tap into their creativity.

Hong Kong has a developing creative industry. Schools are supposed to be the fertile grounds for students’ creative development but that’s not the case now. Unless this emphasis changes, when school leavers join the work force they will struggle.

Hong Kong needs more creative thinking to propel the economy. I wonder where that will come from.

Roanna Ng Sheung-li, Ma On Shan

Lack of car spaces drives illegal parking

I am writing about the issue of raising fines for illegal parking. I very much doubt higher fines will make much of a difference to this widespread problem.

Raising fines seems of little use in addressing the cause of the problem. In too many cases, there are no parking spaces near the drivers’ homes, so they can either use a car park that is far from their homes, or illegally park their vehicles on the street nearby. Obviously, most drivers choose the latter.

There are not enough car parks, which are costly, or spaces in Hong Kong and so many drivers risk the fine for ­illegal parking.

If the number of parking spaces is increased to a satisfactory level and the problem of illegal parking still continues, the government should then consider including illegal parking in the driving-offence points ­system in which loss of points can eventually lead to licence disqualification.

The government should act on the root of the problem and ensure drivers have no excuse for illegal parking.

Peter Tam, Tseung Kwan O

India, China should ensure friendly ties

I am responding to Xu Xiaobing’s article (“Within the lines”, September 14). I agree that India and China’s growth is complementary, not conflicting, but there are ongoing disputes, with the most recent tensions flaring this year on the Doklam plateau.

Regarding Doklam, Chinese troops entered and started building a road there, ignoring protests from the Bhutanese Army.

Due to Bhutan’s agreement with India, where the latter is duty-bound to protect it, India sent in its troops in response.

On June 28, Bhutan’s ambassador to India, Vetsop Namgyal, said that the road that the PLA attempted to build was “in violation of an agreement between the two countries... Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquillity should be maintained”.

Referring to Dr Xu’s asserttion that India “flagrantly ­annexed” the mountain kingdom of Sikkim, elections in April 1974 were won by the Sikkim National Congress, which then passed a bill asking for the state to be incorporated into India.

In a referendum a year later, more than 95 per cent voted to end the Sikkim monarchy, and subsequently in 1975 Sikkim became a part of India. Unlike China’s capture of Tibet, India’s actions in Sikkim followed democratic norms and fulfilled the aspiration of Sikkim to be part of India.

Contentious issues should be put aside for those that can bind the people of both nations. I hope the two countries can soon be friends again.

Kailash Singh, Pok Fu Lam

Container homes could be an option

I refer to the report (“Why is Hong Kong getting container homes? And will they work?”, September 30).

Container homes could be regarded as a reasonable alternative to address the inadequate supply of housing and shorten the long waiting list for public housing. The government will need to consider several aspects in dealing with the issue.

Firstly, it must decide whether these containers homes will be temporary housing for those on the waiting list or could make viable, permanent dwellings for long-term residency.

A converted shipping container may not be to everyone’s taste, but if they are designed well, they could make genuinely comfortable homes for some ­locals.

The living conditions inside the container homes should not be neglected and basics such as air conditioners would be crucial given that the containers usually are made of metal.

Energy efficiency must be a priority because of the high cost of cooling, and heating, a metal box.

I hope the government can develop this idea and keep coming up with others to alleviate the chronic housing shortage problem.

Every Hongkonger deserves a place they can call home.

Carol Mo Ka-wai, Tseung Kwan O