Letters to the Editor, October 22, 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 October, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 October, 2017, 9:01am

Give children’s commission genuine power

I welcome the announcement made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her maiden policy address to set up a children’s commission.

This will help deal with the immediate needs of the city’s children and with their future development. Many of them are vulnerable and really need sound policies that favour them.

There has been some discussion about whether the new commission should have ­statutory powers.

It definitely should be an independent body with such powers so that it can deal decisively and effectively with children’s affairs.

If it does have the legal teeth needed but lacks autonomy, then there is a danger it could be influenced and weakened by other bodies interfering in ­decision-making.

Concerns have been raised repeatedly about the plight of children in families living below the poverty line. They cannot compete with students from better-off backgrounds. A statutory commission could introduce policies to make a real difference in their lives.

Also, it must have regular meetings with children to find out their most pressing needs and also consult with citizens and the relevant government ­departments.

Heidi Keung, Kowloon Tong

Water taxis could serve local snacks

I think having vessels for hire in Victoria Harbour will provide the kind of diversity the tourism sector needs (“Government floats ‘water taxi’ idea to boost tourism”, October 14).

The Tourism Board could ensure that the operators of these boats offered local snacks while visitors enjoyed the ­beautiful scenery around the ­harbour.

However, the scheme will have to be well planned and closely monitored. Pollution and poor visibility are ongoing problems at the harbour.

Officials would need to ensure that the taxis do not add to this problem with their emissions, so clean fuel would have to be used so that marine pollution is not exacerbated.

Vanessa Wong Lok-yu, Kwai Chung

Teach Chinese history in liberal studies

In her first policy address, which ran to almost 50,000 words, Chief Executive Carrie Lam ­focused on 13 main areas. I would like to look at just one, education, and in particular her decision to introduce Chinese history as a ­compulsory independent ­subject at junior secondary level in the 2018-19 school year.

I can understand the purpose of this move, to give our teachers and their pupils an all-round understanding of our country’s amazing past and ­cultural achievements. However, I do not agree that it should be compulsory, because youngsters at junior secondary level ­already have to deal with a lot of subjects in what is a very busy curriculum.

This could put them under even more pressure and if they are stressed, they are unlikely to enjoy the subject and really ­appreciate the nation’s culture.

A study of Chinese history can easily be accommodated in liberal studies.

Yuki Pang, Tseung Kwan O

Pupils should know more about nation

I agree with the Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s decision to have compulsory Chinese history for junior secondary pupils.

Studying history can help us understand not just the past, but what is happening today in the country. It can also enhance our grasp of global affairs.

Pro-establishment politicians have complained about a lack of Chinese history teaching in local schools and blamed it for many young people having a shallow understanding of what is ­happening in China.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China so it is important to promote a deeper understanding of the country so that people have a sense of national identity. This subject can also help pupils have a better appreciation of “one country, two systems” and other important aspects of Hong Kong, such as the Basic Law.

I realise that there may be some problems, such as having enough suitably-qualified tea­chers, and choosing the right textbooks so that pupils do not find the subject boring. But with the right approach, officials can make it interesting.

Mandy Hui Kei-tung, Po Lam

Helpers right to fight against live-in rule

I support those domestic helpers who have called for an end to the compulsory live-in rule. It requires all helpers to live and sleep in their place of work and I believe it is open to abuse.

It can lead to some employers thinking that their helper is on call 24 hours a day.

When the rule is abused in this way, it can mean that these workers get no proper rest. I therefore back the helper who tried to get it overturned through a judicial review.

Abuse of the requirement can turn the workplace into a virtual prison. When the government imposed it in 2003, it did not consider the helpers’ human rights, especially their right to live outside the home of their employer if they wish to do so.

If they have their own place, they are far more likely to be able to work during the day and then go to their accommodation and have a proper rest. The government should have recognised the self-respect of domestic helpers and axed this rule.

Cheung Wai-ting, Tsing Yi