Letters to the Editor, March 10, 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 10:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 10:19am

Hong Kong should follow Dutch on organ donation

I refer to the new law passed in the Netherlands to register all adults in the country as organ donors ­unless they specifically decline (“Dutch law to make everyone ­organ donors ­unless they opt out”, February 14).

I think Hong Kong should also move from an opt-in system for organ donation to an opt-out one, which is also followed in Belgium, Austria and Spain, for instance.

Firstly, an opt-out system is more effective in increasing the supply of transplantable organs. That is because everyone is an ­organ donor by default.

In general, countries with an opt-out system have higher donation rates than those where potential donors are required to sign up to donate.

Secondly, opt-out is more efficient in increasing the donation rate. Some people may be supportive of donation in principle but may put off registering as ­donors for various reasons.

The opt-out system turns them into ­donors immediately, and can ­quickly increase the supply of transplantable organs.

The opt-out system is also less costly.

The government of Hong Kong wants to encourage people to register as organ donors. This means the government needs to spend on the promotion of donation and also on administrative costs for the registration of potential donors under the opt-in system. These costs can be avoided by switching to opt-out, as everyone is a donor by default unless they refuse to be.

Lastly, opt-out respects the choice of donors. Under our current system, the final decision on postmortem donation often rests with the next of kin who may have differing opinions. If the family members can’t agree, they may raise an objection, so the chance to donate would be lost.

Jason Luk, Tseung Kwan O

Schools are first line of defence against bullies

I am writing in response to your article on young pupils taking self-defence classes to fight off school bullies (February 20).

School bullying is unwarranted and aggressive behaviour manifested through physical (hitting or kicking) and verbal (such as name-calling) abuse. And reports say even children as young as seven are seeking psychological help to deal with bullying.

For most pupils, school is a place of joy and laughter. But for the unlucky few, it is a place of torment and violence. In November, the mother of a primary school pupil in Tuen Mun told police her son had been bullied, ­including having a pencil eraser tip inserted in his ear, for which he needed surgery. According to the mother, his classmates threw chalk at him, slapped his face and even jabbed their fingers into his eyes. Even clinical psychologists in Hong Kong are worried about how young the victims of bullying are.

Bullying is not just about physical harm. It can leave lasting mental scars, leading to depression, drug abuse or even suicide.

Our educators have flagged the “serious” problem of school bullying, after nearly a fifth of 15-year-olds surveyed by Pisa reported getting hit or pushed around in school, the fifth highest rate among 52 countries surveyed and far above average of 11.9 per cent.

I think schools should actively promote a safe and inclusive learning environment, and not turn a blind eye to bullying incidents. Don’t just shout slogans. Instead of fearing for the school’s reputation, they should develop more anti-bullying programmes that cover training with teachers and counselling for victims.

Kitty Leung, Tsuen Wan

No homework for holidays was good move

Hong Kong’s education secretary, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, urged schools to give less homework during the Lunar New Year holiday, so that students would have more time for traditional activities, such as visiting relatives.

I think it was a welcome move to relieve the pressure on pupils, especially as long hours and too much homework under a fiercely competitive education system are creating a generation of very stressed out young Hongkongers.

Last year, a survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups found that almost 40 per cent of students are stressed and there were more than 19,000 cases of stress related to study registered on its hotline. It clearly shows how serious the problem is.

Students should be relaxed during holidays, so that they can better cope with the workload when they return to school.

In recent years, several students have committed suicide due to the stress they were under.

Apart from issue of stress, we should respect our traditions. During the Lunar New Year holiday, we should visit relatives and celebrate with family. However, students are forced to do huge amounts of homework ­instead of being with their family.

Although homework helps students gain knowledge, it is counterproductive when there is too much of it.

Ivy Fung, Tsing Yi

Save space for friends, not the ‘frenemy’

The letter from Donald Chan (“Toxic or benign, friends will always be friends”, March 6), ­reminded me of the term, “frenemy”, someone who is a friend on the surface but secretly does not like you. You may know that but do not show your feelings and continue to be friends.

However, frenemy tends to be used to describe female friendships. In TV dramas, women or girls seem to hide malicious intent and jealousy. But men and boys can also be “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. If two friends love the same girl, for example, they will surely secretly dislike each other.

I suggest stop being a frenemy. If you dislike someone, do not ­socialise with them any more. And if you suspect you have a frenemy, be cautious and perhaps consider why they don’t like you.

Herice Yip, Tseung Kwan O