Online Letters, December 5, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 3:30pm

Hongkongers need to stand up for Cantonese opera

I am writing in response to the article on how Hongkongers take their cultural heritage for granted (“Overseas audience far more supportive, Cantonese opera star says”, November 26).

Cantonese opera, combining martial arts and traditional costumes, is a valuable component of the local performing arts sector. This centuries-old form of performance is, without a doubt, worth preserving. I must say it is really upsetting that not many Hong Kong people place enough emphasis on preserving this intangible heritage.

In recent years, Cantonese opera has been on the decline. This is a worrying situation, caused by technological advances and the influence of pop culture. With our smartphones able to screen any form of entertainment at a tap, we hardly spare time to enjoy a Cantonese opera performance.

People obviously harbour the misconception that such performance are for the entertainment of the elderly only. Given a choice, youngsters would pick pop music or TV dramas, not Cantonese opera, leaving this art form to languish in the electronic era.

To preserve our heritage, the community and government need to act together. The government should invest more in promoting Cantonese opera. Funding and resources can be allocated for subsidising young artists to become Cantonese opera performers. The development of the Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon Cultural District is a good move that clearly shows the government’s supportive attitude.

Children keep Cantonese opera alive

Schools and non-governmental organisation should also fulfil their responsibility by educating the next generation about their cultural heritage. This can be done by inviting troupes to stage Cantonese opera performances, or organising workshops for students to perform, so that they can learn more about this vanishing art form.

In conclusion, when foreigners can place so much value on Cantonese opera, why can’t we, the owners of this unique cultural heritage?

Yip Wing-yi, Yau Yat Chuen

US move on net neutrality is a warning for the world

In the United States, it is a long established fact that cable network service providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, are notorious for their slow internet speeds yet overpriced service. To make matters worse, they supposedly have the power to adjust the speed of different websites to their liking.

Thankfully, owing to net neutrality rules, they were never able to do so.

Unfortunately, things began to take a sharp U-turn when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on July 12 that they plan to end net neutrality policies. This triggered the “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality”, with over 50,000 websites taking part.

Instead of abolishing such a nonsensical plan, FCC actually started officially putting forward rules to abolish net neutrality and they are planning to vote next week.

Though it may seem like the abolition of net neutrality is just an issue for the US, as human history has proven to us many times, this issue does and will affect the entire world.

The first point I would like to put forward is that the US is still a superpower, just as it has been since the end of the cold war. Superpowers have always been influential for the entire world.

Looking back in time, Britain used to control everything from daily lives to the politics of around half the world in the 19th century. They were the steering wheel for the ship of history at the time.

Now, the US has taken over as that steering wheel. Allies like the Nato states have largely similar policies in basically any aspect. How is the US not influential then?

This leads to my next point, about the potential domino effect that this policy could cause. If net neutrality were to be repelled in the US, imagine all the US allies starting to abolish net neutrality as well.

Imagine all sites being charged extra, as much as the broadband service providers desire, for faster internet connection speeds. While sites as large as YouTube is likely to escape unscathed, smaller ones may be as good as dead with so much additional expenditure.

This is no longer the matter of a single country. The fight for net neutrality is our fight, and we must do our part. This is our responsibility, if we want to keep our rights to use the internet fairly and freely.

Lam Ka-lok, Quarry Bay

STEM education can thrive if basics are strong

I refer to the article on STEM skills ensuring good careers for today’s children (“STEM education develops children’s skill sets to make them ‘future-proof’ in employment market”, November 28).

I agree that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education may help students to develop an interest in these subjects and boost their future career. However, not all students are, or can be, interested in these subjects. Some students like art and literature, which are also important in life. So, we should create a holistic opportunity for our students to develop a full range of knowledge and interests.

In addition, not all students want to be scientists and engineers. Some may want to go into sales, or the service or retail industries, and so on.

Those who study in local Band 3 schools may not have the ability to use simple mathematical skills required for experiments in traditional science subjects. I think science and mathematics teachers may cooperate to help students to use mathematics in science subjects.

Also, aquaponics is a good topic in STEM education. This involves the knowledge of biology and chemistry. The students of junior secondary level may not have enough knowledge of chemistry to benefit from aquaponics study. Our teachers may offer some basic training on this for them to be more interested in such topics under STEM education.

To conclude, I think STEM education is good, but basic scientific knowledge in traditional science subjects and basic experimental skills are important prerequisites.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Good sleep depends on parents and schools

I refer to the article on how long study hours are making children fat (“How Chinese children are at higher risk of obesity from lack of sleep and late bedtimes”, November 13). I would like to suggest some solutions so that the risk of obesity can be lowered.

The article says Chinese children are sleeping less than youngsters in the US and Europe, and are at a higher risk of obesity as a consequence. Growing children need to get adequate sleep, as a lack of this leads to an imbalance in appetite regulating hormones. This makes children more likely to feel hungry and so eat more, especially junk food. Also, if children do not get enough sleep, they will lack the energy for exercise and then it would be easier for them to gain weight.

As for reasons why children do not have enough sleep time, first comes stress from schoolwork and exams. Youngsters in Hong Kong these days need to do a lot of homework after school. Then there is exam pressure and the pressure from parents to do well. They also have to go to hobby classes that their parents enrol them in, which leaves them only the later hours of the evening to complete their homework. They may work late into the night and therefore end up with fewer sleeping hours.

To ensure their children get enough rest, parents should be more thoughtful in arranging the number and timing of hobby classes. Schools can do their bit by giving out less homework. Schools could also carry out a survey on whether students are getting enough sleep and the quality of their rest. Earlier sleep times would benefit children in terms of both health and academics.

As lack of sleep makes children feel more hungry and too tired to exercise, they end up snacking a lot and this leads to fat being stored in their bodies. Therefore, school and parents should encourage children to exercise more and choose healthy snacks. Parents can be a role model in this regard.

Debbie Lau Ka-chi, Kwai Chung

Privacy protection requires companies to act responsibly

The use of personal data is one of the biggest concerns of Hong Kong people, and made up the majority of complaints to the privacy commissioner last year.

The internet era has brought with it the risk of personal data breaches. Besides public awareness of privacy rights, there is an increased need for the protection of privacy as guaranteed in Article 14 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.

I agree with Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong Kai-yi that an appropriate response to companies collecting personal data to be used for direct marketing and the promotion of products and services, is to increase cooperation with industries to better inform users of the risks involved in sharing their personal information online.

The Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Chapter 486), Section 35E of Division 2, stipulates that “data users must not use personal data in direct marketing without the data subject’s consent”.

A possible solution regarding complaints of personal data would be to invoke section 35G of Division 2, a right that confers the power on data subjects to require data users to “cease to use [their] personal data in direct marketing”.

In closing, while education may raise internet users’ awareness of personal data rights, companies collecting personal data must also respect the privacy of their data subjects, and act responsibly according to the law.

Celine Chan, Mid-Levels