Letters to the Editor, February 26, 2018

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 4:28pm

Life is a casino for students in Hong Kong

I refer to the report on the burden of homework borne by children in Hong Kong (“More than half of Hong Kong primary pupils get at least seven assignments daily”, February 22). I wish to point out that it only gets worse once pupils get to secondary school.

Every time I sit at my desk to work on endless homework and revision assignments, I always think about what I can hope to gain and what I am losing in life.

Working hard to achieve good ­results in the DSE (Diploma of Secondary Education) is, I believe, the goal of all secondary students in the city. It has been a long time since I spent some relaxing hours with my family. Even during weekends and holidays, I am always busy studying.

When I was small, I loved to go out with my parents to buy new toys. My grandmother would laugh and say, “If the moon could be bought, your father would buy it for you.” But now, my father ­reminds me not to waste money on useless things, and focus on what will benefit my study.

In the past, when I went to gatherings with my mother’s colleagues, they would praise me for being cute and polite. However, when I met them recently, they kept asking about my studies, my school results, my career plans.

What was most annoying was how they talked about their sons and daughters in university. Comments on their scores and superiority are still ringing in my ears.

I always compare our education system to a casino. The early years are used to win money for gambling. The knowledge we gain is the wager, on which success, or the lack of it, depends. If you lose, you lose your chance to embark on life from a higher starting point. If you win, then, congratulations, you can start at a higher point. But what about the loss of our valuable childhood?

Christine Wong, Lam Tin

Divorcees are punished twice over by taxman

As we anyway seem to collect more tax then we need (“Granny stashes the cash under the mattress”, February 26), we may give the divorcees who have to pay ­alimony a (tax) break.

Married people have double the tax allowance of a divorcee, as he/she is now alone.

Fact is, however, that the government does not allow the ­alimony paid to be listed as a tax ­deductible, nor can you claim for double the tax allowance.

When the receiving ex-partner is working, they would logically get the allowance – but they should also add the alimony to their ­income and pay tax over it.

The paying ex-partner is, in the current tax system, “punished” twice, as he/she also has to pay tax over the money paid to the ex.

Hong Kong is set for a budget surplus of nearly HK$160 billion this year, where the original estimate was HK$16.3 billion. With so much spare cash, the Inland Revenue Department should give some much-needed relief to such alimony payers.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay

Raise the bar for hiring ­­bus drivers

I agree with your correspondent William Wan (“Look beyond pay hikes for KMB drivers”, February 25). I think shorter shifts and adequate breaks would ensure that drivers at not tired at the wheel.

I also think there should be a higher standard of entry. More ­detailed and strict interviews can help confirm that drivers have the required skills and attitude. Along with more rigorous training and welfare benefits, this can improve morale and passenger services.

Celia Cheung, Kwai Chung

‘Emperor Xi’ would mean a leap backward

We should all be worried about President Xi Jinping’s intention to extend his term ­beyond 2023 (“Party clears way for Xi to stay in power”, February 26).

It is not a matter of whether Xi is doing a good job or not. Having the power to stay in office as long as he wishes is a great leap backward for China.

The Communist Party has long tried to justify the ­legitimacy of its unique “democracy”, assuring us that it can represent 1.3 billion people because it makes decisions in their best interest; that, with hundreds of millions of ­uneducated farmers, it may not be yet the right time for genuine ­democracy – “one person one vote”. But, with the spread of education and wealth, we the people should be able to expect that we are at least walking towards a brighter future.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendment to the constitution is an assault on that hope. It is no different to officially admitting that democracy and human rights are nothing but slogans in China. Also, it means the political system can never make progress.

This is heart-wrenching to me as a Chinese. This will not only do harm to the general public but the party as well, because it may cripple the balance of its self-maintaining politics. I sincerely hope there would be opposition from the party, if it still has a say. It is an understatement to call this decision a mistake. We cannot ­afford to put China at risk of crowning another emperor.

Yow Tsz Chung, Tin Shui Wai

Appalled at ‘sex slave’ cheerleaders

I was shocked to read about a ­defector saying North Korea’s Olympic cheerleaders are victims of “sexual slavery” (February 24).

It was horrifying to learn that members of the North Korean art troupe, which charmed audiences around the world with their performance at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, have to go to parties where they are asked “to undress, like objects”, and forced to provide sexual services to top politicians of the regime’s Central Politburo.

I also thought how ironic it was that the very same Koreans who suffered at the hands of the Japanese would set up a “comfort women” system of their own.

Sandy Yuen, Kwai Chung