Online Letters, October 24, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 4:16pm

Hong Kong must realise that e-sports is serious business

I am writing to express my opinion on e-sports development in Hong Kong. In recent years, the popularity of e-sports has risen and more teenagers would like to join online gaming competitions or even aim to be a professional contestant. In places like mainland China, South Korea and the US, e-sports is recognised by the authority and enjoys high viewership, with sponsorships available for professional e-sports leagues and tournaments. However, e-sports in Hong Kong isn’t recognised as a profitable activity by most people, and is hard to develop without sponsorship and investment from the government.

The decisive feature in the disparity in e-sports development between Hong Kong and other places is investment. In other countries, e-sports is advocated by the government and professional sports organisations, drawing in big money in order to provide better equipment and training camps for professional gamers.

As far as I know, in the mainland, some leagues, national competitions or international tournaments are sponsored by some national or multinational corporations, such as Alibaba, the Coca-Cola Company or China Telecommunications Corporation. But in Hong Kong, professional e-sports teams lack sponsorship to develop better players and buy the latest software or hardware to use in competitions. Because of the gap in e-sports development, Hong Kong’s gamers would like to join teams in the mainland or Taiwan, because of the better training prospects and a greater capacity for developing their skills.

Watch: Can e-sports be a career choice for Hongkongers?

Moreover, official recognition is also a factor that affects the development of e-sports in Hong Kong. There is a lot of misunderstanding about e-sports, which has been the biggest problem for teenagers aiming to be professional gamers. Most people think that e-sports is just playing online games, which is a waste of time with no earning potential, so they won’t allow their children to become e-sports players. However, e-sports is not just an activity; it is a job which can bring in a stable income and opportunities to participate in different competitions.

Professional gamers need time to develop their skills, tactical strategies and team spirit. Though the e-sports development of Hong Kong is lagging behind, I’m sure that we’ll catch up as soon as the government realises its potential. Indeed, a good step to catching up was the Festival Zone e-sports and music event in August. I’m really glad Hong Kong hosted such a great event and I hope there will be more in the future.

Wong Fung-nga, Yau Yat Chuen

Rote learning is harming students in the long run

I refer to the debate over whether rote learning and an obsession with getting good exam results is leaving Hong Kong youngsters ill-equipped with the creative skills they will need to thrive in workplaces of the future.

Our society has long been promoting rote learning and a focus on brilliant exam results. What experts have found is that this deep-rooted learning method or thinking is leaving teenagers unable to develop the creativity required in workplaces of the future. This is definitely an alarming fact.

Remembering knowledge acquired from textbooks by heart and reciting it repeatedly is what rote learning implies. The monotonous process can only prove youngsters’ ability of cramming and memorising, but does nothing to nurture their innovative skills. Even worse, such a learning method limits the room for creative, independent thinking, as rote learning just requires them to copy and paste remembered words from textbooks onto their answer sheets.

In addition to rote learning, the obsession with outstanding academic results means we are failing to focus on critical or analytical thought, when this is what education is truly meant to inspire. Lacking critical thinking and independent motivation, our students can never cultivate their innovative skills to boost their careers.

Davina Fong, Tai Wai

Boot camps need not be the first option for bullies

I am writing in response to your article on ways to reform bullies (“Are boot camps the best way deal with bullies?” October 16). Some suggest that military schools and boot camps can good ways to deal with bullies, as such facilities for troubled teens have been around in the UK and US for years. Both of these involve some sort of hard physical labour as a way to train children with a history of bullying, violence and other antisocial behaviour to behave more appropriately.

However, are these the only way out for parents when their children are among the school bullies? I believe schools and parents must naturally also play key roles in controlling bullying.

Parents of bullies need to talk openly with them for a start. Sometimes, children struggle to read social cues and may not be aware that their behaviour is actually hurtful and antisocial. In order to cope with this problem, the parents of bullies must look at their own day-to-day behaviour and, at the same time, teach their kids to always respect others.

Children learn from those around them and are shaped by their surroundings. And so, it is often said that those who bully their own kids tend to have kids who bully. Therefore, parents need to ensure that they are role models that their children can follow, and their own strong sense of respect for others can help avoid having their children turn into bullies.

As for parents whose children are bullied, communication with schools is an important way to deal with this issue. Such parents should inform the school about the problem and work together to find the main contributing factors. Working together, parents and teachers can provide children with better role models and guide appropriate replacement behaviour.

For schools, teachers should monitor the hotspots of bullying, like the playgrounds, sports fields and classrooms. Whenever there is an adult controlling the situation, students who are being bullied will feel safer, and bullying behaviour will be less likely.

Statistics show nearly half of the bullying occurs in the hallway or stairs, while a third takes place in the classroom and a fifth on playgrounds. Teachers should increase the frequency of monitoring these places to lessen the rate of bullying.

Only a concerted effort by both schools and parents can tackle the problem of bullying, before more drastic measures such as boot camps are considered.

Jessie Leung Cheuk-yau, Yau Yat Chuen

Overwork can’t be a badge of honour for hectic city

I am writing in response to the article on Hongkongers seemingly working themselves to death (“Work till you drop: a dangerous culture in Hong Kong”, October 9).

Hong Kong people are no strangers to working overtime, no matter whether they are students or professionals. Apparently, overwork – regardless of whether it is voluntary or forced – has became a popular trend in today’s Hong Kong. In my opinion, it should never be seen as a good phenomenon, even though it may lead to personal success or prosperity.

First and foremost, overwork is harmful to health. Working overtime usually implies that one needs to stay up late. Physically, it upsets our circadian rhythm and consequently weakens our immune system. Provided that extra load will be added to our cardiac and endocrine systems, we will get sick more often, suffer from high blood pressure or other serious health conditions, such as heart and liver disease, in the long run. Obviously, overwork causes irreversible damage to our body.

Mentally, working overtime will drive us to depression. I bet most, if not all, of us feel stressed with loads of work to be finished while the progress is poor. Hong Kong people tend to have a very busy and hectic schedule, with numerous tasks to be completed within a limited time. A repetitive and robotic lifestyle is more than annoying, it can be mentally debilitating. Spending long hours in front of the desk, trying to clear stacked documents, is suffocating and overwhelming. In long run, we will be prone to negative thoughts and anxiety, which seriously affects our quality of life and even physical health.

Bus driver work shifts under review after fatal Hong Kong crash

Bosses should also be concerned: as long working hours result in poor performance. Long hours in the office decrease not only productivity, but the quality of work. The fatigue induced hampers our ability to perform at a high cognitive level. Meanwhile, the error rate of overworked staff severely increases as well. As workers are unable to concentrate and keep making mistakes, bosses will eventually understand that the losses sustained in asking employees to work longer hours indeed outweigh the gains.

Drug blunders by overworked doctors on rise in Hong Kong’s public hospitals

In brief, the phenomenon of working overtime can never bode well. No one likes to hear of cases about employees dying from exhaustion, or weary workers committing fatal mistakes, causing injury or the even death.

To protect our society from such tragedies, employees and bosses need to reach a consensus on appropriate working hours. I would also like to suggest that the government set a maximum working hour level so that no worker can be exploited.

Yip Wing-yi, Kowloon Tong

Full-time power plans elude part-time minds

Solar power only works while the sun shines – it is part-time power. Wind power only works when suitable winds blow – also part-time power. Batteries only work when charged – part-time power again. Hydro fails in droughts – more part-time power.

And using full-time power like gas to fill the inevitable supply gaps from part-time power forces backup gas to operate like part-time power.

Moreover, on sunny windy days, wind and solar generators spew out electricity at little extra cost. These erratic surges of part-time power drive electricity prices so low that even low-cost full-time producers like coal cannot operate profitably at those times. They are throttled back and forced to operate as yet another part-time power plant.

As for 24/7 electricity users – such as hospitals, trains, factories, refineries, fuel and water pumps, cash registers, infrastructure and mines – these cannot operate on part-time electricity.

Moreover, every part-time power producer – from the sun, wind, batteries, hydro, gas or coal – consumes money full-time for operations, standby, maintenance and replacement. Each also has to fund its own specialised generators, transmission lines, access roads and workforce. Electricity becomes both unreliable and expensive, and consumers suffer.

Using taxes, subsidies, dictates and mandates to replace a full-time power producer like coal with up to five part-time power producers only makes sense in the part-time minds that inhabit “Greentopia”.

Viv Forbes, Queensland