Letters to the Editor, February 3, 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 2018, 9:49am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 February, 2018, 9:48am

Schools can take lead in reading push

I refer to the debate over whether schools must do more to ­promote a reading culture, even though it begins at home.

It is not just the duty of parents to encourage children to read at home; schools are also responsible in building up a reading habit among pupils.

It has also been suggested that books be placed on different floors of schools so children can have easier access to them.

I think a lot of students in Hong Kong do not like reading at all; they will read, that too ­unwillingly, only when they need to do book reports.

Many don’t think reading is fun, especially books in English, a language they don’t usually speak in their daily lives.

Though some students might appreciate the benefits of reading, they either do not have the time because they have a lot of school or extracurricular ­activities, or it is not convenient to get or borrow a book.

Negative attitudes towards reading can have seriously ­adverse effects, such as on a ­student’s reading literacy.

Recent news reports have noted Hong Kong’s falling ranking in this regard. (“Hong Kong slips to third place in reading literacy ranking, ­behind Russia and Singapore”, December 8). So it is important to promote a positive approach to reading among youngsters

To change habits and cultivate reading as a hobby among students, schools should play a leading role.

Students spend long hours in school, so the idea of putting books on different floors for easy access is a good one.

Also, teachers can ask those students who like to read to share their opinions and the benefits gained from reading, to attract other students to take it up more energetically.

The government can also subsidise schools to hold ­reading-related programmes, as this will promote the benefits of a regular reading habit.

Rainbow Or, Tseung Kwan O

One country, one system now in play

As the saying goes, “The boss is always right.”

Beijing is our boss, anything it desires and wants should be done, or the National People’s Congress Standing Committee will pass a resolution that will make us comply.

We have self-rule or autonomy and freedom of expression in name only. We are but a horse whose reins are in the hands of Beijing, and our chief executive has to do her job.

In fact, what we have is one country, one system.

A weakened opposition in the Legislative Council, after a string of disqualifications of pan-democrats, has rendered it a rubber-stamp body, able to endorse any law the administration wants, without noisy ­discussion or debate.

The year 2047 has already come, or is fast approaching. Anybody discussing, debating or even thinking of true autonomy is sure to be disillusioned.

The mistrust is so deep that Ms Agnes Chow Ting, only 21, has been barred from contesting the March by-election. But the publicity and uproar that has triggered is likely to make many vote for any democratic candidate easily or blindly. She has ­become an instant political star.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui

Sunscreen findings alarming

I refer to your report on the environmental fallout of sunscreen use (“Your sunscreen may be killing marine life”, January 30).

Sunscreen shields us from ultraviolet rays. But scientists say that nanoparticles in some can affect algae and disrupt the ecosystem. Nano-zinc oxides can shorten the lifespans of both freshwater and marine micro­algae by 40 to 70 per cent, and can even cause death. This is an alarming find manufacturers must take note of.

Cherry Lam, Kwai Chung

Student anger no excuse for bad language

I refer to the recent student protests at Baptist University over compulsory Mandarin tests (“Two Baptist University students suspended over campus protest for ‘threatening’ conduct”, January 24).

The university’s requirement that all students who don’t pass the test must complete a Mandarin course before they can graduate is a tough policy, and perhaps too rigid for most local students.

But that is no excuse for the reaction of some students, who used threatening behaviour and foul language in a stand-off with staff of the university’s Language Centre.

Two students were temporarily suspended, and there was reason for them to be.

We should always respect our elders, our teachers and parents, and swearing at teachers is an obvious sign of disrespect that cannot be excused.

Students should not react in such a rude way and should ­reflect on better ways to achieve their aims or air grievances. Can using foul language help any ­situation? I don’t think so.

Moreover, students should not resort to these kinds of vocal protest to express their opinions. If they engage in such radical protests, will the school listen to their opinion?

Why didn’t they have a sit-down meeting with the teachers to discuss their problems?

I believe the students’ anger was justified, but they used the wrong method to express their opinions.

They made the situation more difficult, and made it tougher to have a consensus ­between students and teachers.

If students don’t adopt ­appropriate strategies for discussion, teachers are not likely to be inclined to listen to their complaints.

Oscar Au Yeung, Po Lam

Mandarin will give an edge ­in job market

Your correspondent Wai Lam Yip misread Baptist University’s sincere intention to instil ­language skills in students (“Compulsory Mandarin course for graduation is discriminatory towards locals”, January 30).

I think the university is ­merely trying to give students the extra edge they will need when they enter the very competitive job market.

English and Mandarin are not our mother tongues in Hong Kong, but they are the market-designated languages. That is why the university desperately wants students to learn them, totally for their own good.

I don’t understand why the Baptist University students ­suddenly lost control, and ­engaged in rowdy behaviour, using foul language in front of the cameras. If they fail the subject, they can resit, but now they are blacklisted by society.

Few employers will risk taking on young people with a background of violent protest.

I have just finished a three-month English course at City University, where the students were under enormous pressure from a British professor, who unrelentingly spoke at foreigner speed, and demanded intensive discussions in English.

Many students encountered the professor’s bombardments in class. Although embarrassment, shame and surrender were obvious sometimes, they had no intention to pick a fight and blame the professor or the university; they just kept studying and looking to improve.

This was a hopeful attitude and they won my respect.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

US businesses happy to buy China goods

Instead of accusing China of dumping goods and creating a huge trade surplus, Donald Trump should first ask himself why the American business world favours Chinese imports over local purchases. The reason is obvious: American businesses stand to gain by doing so.

Not to mention the American government’s refusal to ­export hi-tech products to China to maintain a balance.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong