Letters to the Editor, March 17, 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 10:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 10:30am

Low-income carers of elderly need more help

I refer to your report on calls to help low-income individuals who care for the disabled elderly ­(“Relax restriction on carer allowance, group urges”, March 12).

The article talks about an elderly couple facing financial collapse after the husband suffered a stroke. They had to quit their jobs and now rely on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) of HK$6,000 per month to survive.

But that leaves the wife ineligible for the Community Care Fund’s HK$2,000 monthly living ­allowance for carers of the elderly, as it largely hinges on whether other forms of government aid are received.

I believe the eligibility barriers are too harsh, and such restrictions find many grass roots families neglected. If they can’t work because they must care for the disabled elderly, they can only rely on the CSSA. But if that means they can’t get the carer allowance, then what is the point?

Instead of setting up hurdles, more financial relief for carers of the elderly should be provided. Only offering the CSSA and carer allowance is not enough. Even if they got both, it would only be a total of about HK$8,000 a month. That is a pittance in Hong Kong.

Not only should they get more but also some services, such as help with the caretaking so they can take a break.

Peco Mak, Tseung Kwan O

No homework is no good for children

I disagree with your correspondent, Ivy Fung (“No homework for holidays was good move”, March 11). Giving a suitable amount of homework to students is the best thing to do, no matter whether they are on holiday or during normal school terms. But I realise that people would question the definition of “suitable”.

Teachers are responsible for making sure pupils learn well. Giving out homework helps teachers know exactly how much pupils have absorbed and areas they need to improve on.

However, amid more reports about too much stress from schoolwork, parents are urging schools to give out less and let their kids have more time to relax. But without assignments, teachers won’t be able to find out what areas need improvement and who needs more help.

There aren’t many kids in Hong Kong who are independent; they tend to beg for more fun time rather than sitting down to read. Asking schools to cut back on homework will not only make children lazier and unproductive, but make it even more difficult for them to cope in higher forms.

Cassandra Chan, Lam Tin

Higher English standards vital in science push

I disagree with Zoe Chung on lower cut-offs in English for science talent (“Science brains face language barrier in city”, March 13).

Simply lowering the threshold would do more harm than good.

Science, including ICT (information and communications technology), is a complicated subject, where much advanced ­research originates from developed countries and is in English.

If a pupil can’t understand or write the language properly, they would find research difficult.

Demanding a high level of English proficiency would create more skilled scientists, rather than letting students pass the first hurdle into university easily, and then face challenges. We must set our sights higher.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Winter Games marked by historic thaw

It is a miracle that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will come face to face in May, although the time and location are yet to be set.

The Winter Olympics was the appropriate arena for “breaking the ice” between the two sides, with cold and often thorny relations dating back to the end of the Korean war, 65 years ago.

Even a few months back, the ­relationship between the two was marked by insults and threats.

Hopefully, the US president and the North Korean leader can ­resolve their differences at their unprecedented summit meeting.

Sports and endeavours for peace often go hand in hand. No wonder the Winter Olympic Games was the stage on which the world found a possible way out of the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis.

However, even if Trump and Kim meet, the negotiations are likely to be far from easy.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said a Trump-Kim meeting should open up a way to resuming a diplomatic process “on the basis of principles agreed during the six-party talks and the UN Security Council”.

However, any talks will be difficult because of conflicting interests among the six parties.

The US is a major stumbling block for Korean unification, whereas Japan is in an embarrassing situation, as it may prefer the status quo, given its history of Korean occupation.

However, in 1972, the US and China broke the ice after US secretary of state Dr Henry Kissinger’s ­secret visit to China the year before led to a rapprochement.

The forthcoming US-North Korea negotiations offer similar hope. We should pay tribute to the spirit of the Olympic Games.

Lo Wai Kong, Yau Ma Tei

Slow speeds ensured in net oligopoly

Your correspondent, Ulf Orhling, is spot on in his critique of broadband provision in Hong Kong (“Slow, unstable broadband ­unacceptable in world city with ‘smart’ aspirations”, March 3).

Oligopolistic provision ­ensures slow speed, onerous contract terms and poor customer service through much of the city.

This damages business competitiveness, as well as the quality of social provision.

Christopher Ruane, Mui Wo