Letters to the Editor, February 2, 2018
Schools have to take the lead on Mandarin
I refer to Alex Lo’s column on Mandarin lessons being useful for Hong Kong students (“Learning Mandarin could be just the job”, January 27).
To clarify, I am a local undergraduate student, though not at Baptist University.
I believe that learning Mandarin gives local students a competitive edge upon their graduation.
Nonetheless, if the aim is to speak the language fluently, it would be more sensible to make it a compulsory subject in secondary school, in a way similar to physical education and visual arts lessons.
In this way, more teaching and learning time can be dedicated during school years, while university students who are supposed to be more mature can have more time and credits at their disposal to enrol in courses they like.
The bone of contention over this recent issue should be why Baptist University is unwilling to divulge its marking criteria, as well as whether the assessment is fair or not, given that even a number of native speakers interviewed rated the Mandarin waiver test as tough, together with the fact that a whopping 70 per cent of candidates failed it.
University students should be given the autonomy to decide whether to learn an additional language or not.
At the end of the day, it is the students themselves who should be responsible for their own career planning.
Besides, if a high command of Mandarin is that indispensable, why would top mainland companies like Baidu or Tencent hire staff who are not proficient in the language?
I believe spending a minimal amount of time and energy to develop a professional working proficiency of Mandarin would suffice for most workers. There are many skills other than fluency in Mandarin that the young workforce of Hong Kong needs to be equipped with.
Alex Leung, Mong Kok
Respect for barristers cuts both ways
I refer to the call by Philip Dykes, the newly elected head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, urging Beijing to respect the influential body of barristers.
Inasmuch as “Dykes urges Beijing to respect barristers” (January 20), the barristers of Hong Kong should also respect their counterparts in Beijing.
Unfortunately, they have not only failed to do so but look down on their mainland counterparts as a lesser breed and themselves as elites.
They too-hurriedly dismiss or disparage decisions by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, such as its declaration that the co-location arrangement for immigration checks at the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus is legal.
Under Article 7 of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong SAR is still one country with the mainland, it is only that the management of the SAR has been delegated to the local administration. The mainland inspection and quarantine hall in the West Kowloon rail terminus has been assigned back to them, as part of the mainland, and as office accommodation. There is no question of what the pan-democratic lawmakers call the “ceding of Hong Kong land to China”, as if they were two countries.
Under Article 158, Beijing has the power to interpret the Basic Law and, where appropriate, the interpretation is delegated to the courts of the Hong Kong SAR. If only the local judiciary liaised more closely with Beijing, there would not have been this sense of high-handed humiliation of elites by officials from the north.
Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen
Agnes Chow ban silences another voice
I am writing in response to your report on the barring of Agnes Chow Ting from the Legislative Council by-election next month (“Storm over election ban for activist”, January 27). I am furious over the decision to bar the young Demosisto member. Are we being left without any voice to complain?
Jail terms for student activists like Joshua Wong Chi-fung, six lawmakers disqualified, doubts about judicial independence, Gui Minhai under house arrest and power distributed only to those who support the central government: all this indicates our city is being slowly engulfed.
We all have different opinions on different issues. And lawmakers represent us to voice them. Assimilation is not welcomed by many of us, but we can only accept decisions made by those in power, and it looks like they are not going to listen to any of our objections.
Agnes Chow was disqualified only because she was seen as supporting Hong Kong independence, as a founder of Demosisto, along with Wong. To avoid their causing any further conflicts and unrest, they are being kept out of politics.
I just cannot imagine how my hometown became like this but I am not expecting a huge change under Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as chief executive.
Alice Fung, Tai Wai
Teachers play valuable role in protecting kids
I support the government’s call for teachers to take the initiative to report child abuse (“Teachers free to judge whether to call police before parents when child abuse is suspected, Hong Kong welfare minister says”, January 28).
Experienced teachers have the right to call police if they suspect a child is being abused. The main question is, how to determine and deal with child abuse cases. I believe it is necessary for social workers and educators to receive structural and systematic training to raise their awareness of child abuse and help them identify possible cases.
Schools and the Social Welfare Department should cooperate closely and take an active role in identifying child abuse cases; for instance, if a student is absent from class for a long time, or shows up bearing signs of violence. If teachers could find the time to make a home visit, a vulnerable child may be saved.
Most child abuse cases are complex, and may involve the relationship between parents, drug issues, depression and so on. If we are willing to risk the charge of nosiness and interference, maybe we would be able to save defenceless children.
Kong Lok Son, Tseung Kwan O
E-books are no match for the joys of print
The print industry in Hong Kong, and indeed the world, is said to be on the decline. People prefer the electronic versions of reading materials because they are more portable, accessible and affordable.
However, I am one of those who prefer old-style reading: I enjoy books of all kinds, and all in the printed form.
Reading is a source of great joy to me. The simple act of flipping through the pages gives me sense of substantiality. After I finish, I can always keep the books as valuable possessions.
Keeping a stash of my favourite books is like accumulating a wealth of love tokens. These feelings cannot be replicated by the reading of e-books.
Until the day my eyes and brain fail, I will continue to be a feverish reader of paper books.
Jacqueline Kwan, Mid-Levels