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Students' Good Work

Students’ Good Work published on Opinion Page of SCMP 
Take a look at your schoolmate's work and learn from them!
 
The links here are the good work in the past years:

Below are the good work for 2017-2018:

SCMP December 26, 2017
Jenny Sit 6A

Pupils can benefit in school from using e-textbooks
 
Some people are sceptical about the increasing use of e-textbooks and e-learning in schools, but I think they can be effective and help pupils. They are also useful for adults in various ways.
 
This form of education has so much potential and we should not just focus on the cost issue, for example, of purchasing a computer or buying material online. Young people can gain from e-learning in so many ways if it is fully utilised by teachers.
 
For pupils e-learning offers unlimited resources which are not available with traditional textbooks. It also helps students at universities and people in the business world.
 
When using e-textbooks pupils may have to be adaptable and approach the learning process in a more flexible way. In the past they bought a textbook and during the course of the year might be expected to read it from start to finish. With e-learning, they can study in a different way. They can look at various e-books, just calling up and reading the relevant sections. And they can enhance the learning experience by finding other material online, such as graphics and videos, which help them to have a deeper understanding of their subject.
 
Young people in some remote parts of countries, who might have difficulty getting hold of a printed textbook, can now access it online. As long as the school makes sure there are computers they can use in class, this creates a more level playing field for everyone.
 
It is impossible to say how the internet will affect the learning process in the future, but I hope that it will be largely positive and progressive and actually benefit young people from different backgrounds.
 
Jenny Sit, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP December 23, 2017
Chole Ng 3B

China’s history should be in curriculum
 
Regarding the teaching of Chinese history as a separate, compulsory subject in secondary schools, I think such a move is essential.
 
Some schools now combine world history and Chinese history, while others include only a little Chinese history in liberal studies but as a Chinese, we have a responsibility to acquire thorough knowledge of the history of our country. Even in Japan and South Korea, students have to study their history as well as world history.
 
A nation’s history is the “root” of national consciousness and enhances the students’ sense of belonging, therefore the Education Bureau should act quickly to include it in the curriculum.
 
Chloe Ng Sin-yee, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 23, 2017
William Wan 5B

Too many bikes spoiling share scheme
 
Bike-sharing services have been expanding rapidly in recent years as more people enjoy the convenience.
 
However, it seems that in some cities like Beijing, this business is overdeveloped and drawbacks are showing up (“Are China’s bike-sharing services oversharing?”, October 2).
 
The bike-sharing service in China has been popular due to its user-friendly services but the companies involved started to purchase too many bikes for the available parking spaces and so they clogged bike lanes and footpaths.
 
The resulting inconvenience for users and the general public is the opposite of what planners and bike-sharing companies had aimed for.
 
The distribution of bikes must be carefully considered but also how to reduce the numbers of shared bikes. After all, it’s not expensive for a family to own a bicycle and sometimes public transport is a better option than pedalling a bike.
 
In some city locations now bikes outnumber potential users by two to one so rather than producing more bikes, the companies should think about how they can attract more customers.
 
Government help is needed to manage the services and ensure benefits for users and non-users alike.
 
William Wan Wai-ming, Clear Water Bay

SCMP December 23, 2017
Jason Luk 5A

Think before buying those new clothes
 
I would like people to consider the environmental impact of the clothes they wear.
 
Clothes are mainly made of cotton. However, industries mostly will choose cotton that is not organic and so will support the farming practices which use a lot of pesticides or other ¬polluting chemicals which can damage eco-systems.
 
The natural colour of cotton is greyish and the bleaching used to make it white and soft produces large quantities of polluted water. As many factories may not have an adequate filtering system, the waste water flowing to the sea or rivers affects fish, animals and plant life.
 
And at home, eco-friendly laundry detergent should be used and we should resist buying so many clothes that won’t be worn because they are no longer considered fashionable.
 
Clothes are a major culprit affecting the environment. We need to think more seriously about what we wear, and change our throwaway mentality to help save the planet.
 
Jason Luk, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 22, 2017
Jordan Chan 4E

Historic Hong Kong theatre is part of citizens’collective memory
 
I agree with conservationists who want to see a historic theatre in North Point spared demolition (“Conservationists urge change to save old theatre”, December 11).
 
The Empire Theatre opened in December 1952. It is now used as a snooker hall, but in its heyday it hosted many top performers and is “one of the last post-war stand-alone theatre structures in the city and the only building with an iconic flying buttress”.
 
This theatre is an important part of Hongkongers’ collective memory, especially those from older generations who remember it as a successful theatre.
 
There are few old theatres left anywhere in Hong Kong. We have lost so many, just as we have seen other historic buildings demolished that could have been preserved.
 
Over the last few decades, the needs of property developers have been paramount.
 
They have been able to get so many heritage sites destroyed, so that a new high-rise office or residential estate could be constructed.
 
I appreciate that new flats are needed and they enhance the quality of people’s lives, but heritage conservation is important, and remaining old buildings that are historically important should be preserved.
 
Even if it can no longer function as a theatre, I am sure a useful role could be found for it, but not as a snooker hall. This happened successfully with projects such as Mei Ho House in Shek Kip Mei (former housing estate) and Lui Seng Chun in Mong Kok (tong lau turned into Chinese medicine centre).
 
We need appropriate legislation that gives far greater protection to heritage buildings facing the threat of demolition.
 
Tougher laws will impose the necessary constraints on those developers who fail to recognise the importance of conservation for what is left of Hong Kong’s past.
 
Jordan Chan Wai-tsun, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 22, 2017
Hilary Lee 2D

E-books are fine, but there is a downside
 
I agree with correspondents who have said that there are benefits to e-books, but have also highlighted the downside.
 
Using e-books means pupils will have to carry fewer textbooks to school, so their bags are lighter and this puts less pressure on their shoulders, neck and back.
 
Also, it is environmentally friendly to use e-books. And pupils save money as they get a lot of material online that is free or cheaper than a textbook.
 
However, overuse can cause problems. Spending long periods looking at an electronic screen can lead to eye strain and other eye problems for young people.
 
Moreover, some parents on low incomes may not be able to afford e-books for their children.
 
Schools must recognise the positive and negative aspects when they decide on how much time pupils should be allowed to spend using their e-books in class and when they are doing homework.
 
Hilary Lee, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 22, 2017
Ronnie Tse 6C

SCMP December 22, 2017
Candy Kong 4E

SCMP December 21, 2017
Laurent Li 5A

SCMP December 21, 2017
Daniel Hui 5A

SCMP December 21, 2017
Miffy Ng 4E

SCMP December 21, 2017
Peter Tam 5A

SCMP December 20, 2017
Sara Wong 5A

SCMP December 19, 2017
Carly Fung 5A

SCMP December 19, 2017
Sisca Chan 3A

SCMP December 18, 2017
Andy Yeung 5E

SCMP December 18, 2017
Katrina Lo 5E

SCMP December 18, 2017
Phoebe Fok 6E

SCMP December 16, 2017
Jacky Tsoi 4E

Country parks are no option for housing
 
Housing presents a very serious problem in Hong Kong, with land supply and housing distribution the talk of the town.
 
Some say that building flats in country parks can easily alleviate the housing crunch. However, I do not agree.
 
Building housing in country parks would harm the environment. These parks are precious recreational spots for Hong Kong people. If those are built upon, there will be less natural space for people to take a break from their busy working lives.
 
Loss of country parks would also worsen air pollution. Given the reality of global warming, the government should help to ease the problem of bad air.
 
Why not build on brownfield sites instead? Those are lying empty and abandoned anyway.
 
Jacky Tsoi, Lohas Park

SCMP December 16, 2017
Eunis Au 4D

Hong Kong must cherish marine species
 
I refer to your article on calls to protect our marine life (“Small city, big sea: Hong Kong marine life diversity prompts renewed scientific interest and calls for protection”, November 4).
 
The article said Hong Kong has nearly 6,000 marine species, which means its waters provide a good living environment. This enables researchers to investigate more species.
 
However, pollution, climate change, and habitat loss from land reclamation are putting precious species at risk. Such factors not only affect the ecosystem, but also pose a threat to sea creatures, and can even cause the extinction of -endangered species.
 
The people of Hong Kong should be more concerned about protecting our marine ecosystem and act accordingly.
 
The government also has a vital role. The first measure it should take is to enlarge the size of the protected marine area, as only 2 per cent of Hong Kong’s marine area is protected.
 
It should also publicise the importance of protecting marine life, through exhibitions and public talks, as well TV commercials. Catchy slogans and catchphrases play an important role in spreading the word.
 
Eunis Au, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 16, 2017
Cathy Yuen 5E

History hurry raises fears of selective study
 
As announced in the 2017 policy address, all local junior secondary schools will be required to teach Chinese history as an independent compulsory -subject at the junior levels, from the next academic year.
 
Some may say this change is necessary, in order to strengthen Chinese identity and instil patriotism among young Hongkongers. However, I think the subject should not be made mandatory, or it is hard not to have citizens feel suspicious about the intention behind such a directive, and also be afraid that it has political undertones.
 
Many educators have noted the logistical difficulties in implementing the scheme with less than a year to go until the next school year begins.
 
Educating the young generation is an important issue, as the knowledge and impressions gained in childhood will have a profound implication on their entire lives.
 
But critics are questioning why the government appeared to be in such a hurry to implement the policy.
 
They are also worried that the courses may only highlight the positive aspects of China’s history, and gloss over or omit the rest. That gives rise to brainwashing fears, and students not being able to use independent and critical thinking.
 
We should think about this issue comprehensively. Give the youngsters enough opportunity to “appreciate and inherit the splendid Chinese culture”.
 
Cathy Yuen Tsz-wai, Hang Hau

SCMP December 16, 2017
Kitty Yeung 2D

Self-service libraries have pros and cons
 
I am writing in response to your article about Hong Kong’s first self-service library station being launched in Sai Wan Ho, with two more to follow early next year (“Self-service library stations provide books on demand”, December 5).
 
This makes it more convenient for people in the neighbourhood to borrow books, as they don’t have to go all the way to the library. So more such vending-machine-style self-service library stations will bring more convenience.
 
These also can attract more people to read, as books on a variety of topics are so easily available. As self-service libraries are a new thing, they may feel interested in trying them out and borrow books.
 
But I feel the drawback is the number of books they stock. Each such library offers only 300 books, and this is not enough.
 
Also, such machines should be placed in neighbourhoods that are far away from any library, or their purpose would be lost. And if too many of such large vending machines are set up in crowded areas of the city, they will end up blocking the way for pedestrians.
 
Yeung Yan-ki, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP December 15, 2017
Candy Kong 4E

Hong Kong’s country parks and reclamation are not green housing options
 
The discovery in October of a large number of rare butterflies on protected green space raised once again the issue of building on country parks.
 
I agreed at the time with a green group which called for the government to halt a planned public housing project on the site.
 
I can understand why some politicians and officials have called for areas of country parks to be used for residential projects.
 
The shortage of decent, affordable housing is one of the main reasons given for using these areas. However, I believe it would be unacceptable to do this as there are other options which do not have such an adverse effect on the environment.
 
There are still a lot of brownfield sites which would be suitable for housing, many of them in the New Territories.
 
There are also golf courses which have a lot of available land area and some barracks either underused not used at all by the PLA garrison.
 
I am also against proposals for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour. Opting for reclamation or using some areas of country parks would run counter to the government’s long-term blueprint to have a sustainable city by 2030 and beyond.
 
The purpose of country parks is to prevent the over-urbanisation of Hong Kong and protect the natural environment of the city. It allows people to enjoy nature free of charge and enhances their well-being.
 
The government needs to review existing policies and find more ways to optimise land use, so that it meets the aspirations of those living in this city.
 
It is not enough to just identify new land. The government needs to have comprehensive population and housing demand management policies.
 
Our country parks are precious. The best way to increase land supply is to develop existing and unprotected land.
 
Kong Lok-son, Po Lam

SCMP December 15, 2017
Mandy Hui 2D

Sexual abuse victims should speak out
 
I refer to your recent report on Vera Lui Lai-yiu (“Hurdler Vera Lui’s claim that a coach sexually assaulted her when she was 13 sparks outcry”, November 30).
 
These revelations by the top Hong Kong athlete have brought into focus the issue of sexual harassment and abuse in Hong Kong.
 
Now, more people are paying attention and realising that this problem is not just confined to other societies, but directly affects this city.
 
As Lui points out, “It was the offender’s fault. I am not ashamed as a victim.”
 
I agree that victims of this kind of abuse should not feel ashamed. They should speak out about what happened and tell a responsible adult, such as a teacher or parent.
 
These individuals need to realise that what happened was not their fault. They need to have the courage to face the issue and talk about the assault they faced. This can hopefully stop someone from targeting and abusing another youngster.
 
Also, there must be more help available, with a fully equipped support mechanism for these young victims.
 
Mandy Hui Kei-tung, Po Lam

SCMP December 15, 2017
Wincy Lau 4B

Vocational training advice still inadequate
 
There is room for improvement when it comes to helping pupils with career development in local schools.
 
The government should ensure that youngsters are able to learn more about, and have some practical experience in, vocational training.
 
Some teenagers are not academically gifted and so do not expect to do well in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam. As they will not be going to university, they need to be able to explore other options, including a possible vocational career track. So they need to be given as much guidance as possible on the school campus, so that they can look into various trades and the training needed.
 
In conjunction with this, the government should be investing more in the creative and technology sectors. There is too much emphasis on academic achievements in our education system.
 
Youngsters with different levels of ability must be given the opportunity to develop at their own pace and achieve their potential.
 
Wincy Lau, Tseung Kwan O

Young Post December 15, 2017
Jessica Chung 1A

SCMP December 15, 2017
Hilary Lee 2D

SCMP December 15, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP December 14, 2017
Simon Chung 5A

SCMP December 14, 2017
Jacky Sit 3B

SCMP December 13, 2017
Heidi Yip 4A

SCMP December 13, 2017
Marco Chan 5C

SCMP December 12, 2017
Jolly Chau 5C

Very important for youngsters to learn teamwork
 
Kelly Yang’s core message in her article (“Wanted: young diplomats”, December 4) is that Hong Kong students need more empathy. Unfortunately, local schools do not have a lot of classes on learning soft skills like empathy. This makes it difficult for youngsters to understand the feelings of others and empathise with them.
 
I agree with Yang that it is important for Hong Kong students to learn about teamwork and the ability to get along with others. They need to understand how to cooperate. If they can acquire these skills in school they are more likely to be able to use them when they join the workforce.
 
However, I would not like to see a switch from Cantonese to English as the main language in local schools. Cantonese is the mother tongue of local students. If schools switched it could hurt the prospects of those pupils who were not able to adapt.
 
The best solution is to offer more places at schools where English is the medium of instruction so that those pupils who are capable of learning in English can go there.
 
I would certainly like to see young Hongkongers becoming more empathetic.
 
Jolly Chau Hiu-tung, Kwun Tong

SCMP December 12, 2017
Kitty Yeung 2D

Not all Hongkongers are selfish
 
I agree with correspondents who talk about the competitive nature of society in Hong Kong and how this extends to local schools. This can sometimes lead to adults and children behaving badly.
 
There is too much focus on academic results by parents and pupils and the need to succeed at all costs extends into adulthood. This can lead to many citizens acting in a selfish manner, such as not holding a lift door open for other people who are approaching. People say that this lack of civility in Hong Kong is getting worse.
 
However, it is important to recognise that not all Hongkongers are selfish. You do see passengers getting up and giving their seats on the MTR or a bus to someone in need, such as the elderly.
 
Therefore, it is fair to say that not everyone is uncaring, they do not always think of themselves first. There needs to be more civic education by the government, so that Hongkongers are more willing to help each other.
 
If people showed more consideration for each other then I think we would have a happier and better quality society.
 
People need to communicate more with each other and understand people’s needs.
 
Yeung Yan-ki, Tseung Kwan O

Young Post December 11, 2017
Marcus Leung 2B

SCMP December 11, 2017
Leo Tse 2D

SCMP December 11, 2017
Jason Lau 2D

SCMP December 11, 2017
Tony Tam 2D

SCMP December 11, 2017
James Wong 5E

SCMP December 08, 2017
Chioe Wong 2A

Therapy dogs great idea for stress relief
 
I refer to the report on the University of Hong Kong bringing a therapy sheepdog to campus to help their students relax before exams (“Exam stress getting to you? Meet Jasper, the HKU therapy dog”, November 23).
 
The report said while some local universities do offer one-off therapy sessions, HKU’s ¬pilot ¬programme is unique, as it will be the first to have a “resident” therapy dog available for three days next week.
 
I really hope to adopt a dog. However, my parents have not agreed so far.
 
If there were a therapy dog at school, I think I would look forward to classes everyday.
 
Students in Hong Kong these days are always under a lot of pressure, from exams, the high expectations of their parents and teachers, from fear of failure, and so on. All this affects our quality of life. A therapy dog can make us relax and forget all the unhappiness in our daily lives. So I welcome the idea of having a therapy animal on campus.
 
However, I understand that not everyone may agree. Some students may be afraid of dogs or have an allergic reaction to animal fur. But for those who do love dogs, I think they are a great way to relieve stress.
 
Chloe Wong, Po Lam

SCMP December 08, 2017
Melody Ho 5E

SCMP December 08, 2017
Daisy Ip 2D

SCMP December 06, 2017
Marco Kwan 5E

SCMP December 06, 2017
Alice Ma 5E

SCMP December 05, 2017
Michael Li 2C

SCMP December 05, 2017
Desmond Chan 5E

Young Post December 04, 2017
Toby Wong 1A

SCMP December 04, 2017
Daniel Hui 5A

SCMP December 02, 2017
Hilary Lee 2D

Country parks should be left as they are
 
I refer to the report on the government’s housing development plans (“Study into building on Hong Kong country parks faces scrutiny”, November 24).
 
I think the government should not build homes in the fringes of country parks, because that would damage the ecological diversity of these areas. The parks are home to many animals and, if the government wants to develop this land for housing, they will lose their habitat.
 
Such housing projects will also increase visual pollution in the city, as green areas will be greatly reduced, with high rises taking their place. This will also add to the heat island effect and exacerbate global warming.
 
Hilary Lee, Tseung Kwan O

Young Post December 01, 2017
Marcus Leung 2B

SCMP December 01, 2017
Kelly Wong 2B

SCMP December 01, 2017
John Wu 2D

SCMP November 30, 2017
Heidi Wan 2B

SCMP November 29, 2017
Jason Luk 5A

SCMP November 28, 2017
Teresa Ng 5B

Schools often neglect creativity and independent thinking
 
 
While it is good that some local schools do encourage pupils to think outside the box, the exam-oriented system is still dominant and even in primary school a lot of pupils are under pressure to do well so they can get into top secondary schools.
 
In the fight to get one of these places, parents may often neglect the need to encourage their children to be creative and think independently. They are sometimes forced to sign up for extracurricular activities that do not interest them.
 
These children can become so disillusioned that they lose interest in the entire learning process. They then just concentrate on rote learning, copying the right answers to get the best results in exams, without really thinking about what they are studying.
 
Parents need to reflect on what their children really want and what would be good for them, including aiming for a school, based not on its reputation, but whether it is suitable for the child.
 
The government should be encouraging schools to have more active learning schemes where teachers take a more integrated approach in a subject. This encourages pupils to be more creative and inquisitive and to question themselves. This is better than blindly copying material from textbooks.
 
I do not believe it is good to turn youngsters into exam machines. They need to see learning as a lifelong process.
 
The happiness of pupils is just as important as scoring high marks in tests and exams.
 
Teresa Ng, Hang Hau

SCMP November 28, 2017
Kelly Wong 2D

Government should encourage people to cut back on plastic
 
I welcome a new policy launched at government premises (“Hong Kong government vending machines to ditch small water bottles in battle against plastic waste’’, November 23).
 
This is a good policy, but the administration has to do more to raise levels of public awareness about the importance of environmental protection. It needs to get its green message across forcefully with more adverts on television and online. Citizens need to realise that they have a role to play in trying to protect ecosystems in Hong Kong, including doing basic things like helping to keep our streets clean. Residents should be cooperating with the government.
 
There should also be more talks and workshops in schools with environmental themes so that pupils learn from an early age that we all need to try to protect our planet. They are more likely to want to do this if they have a deeper understanding of the issues.
 
Kelly Wong Ka-yi, Po Lam

SCMP November 28, 2017
Eric Lui 2B

Diners have to think about what they are eating in restaurants
 
The Consumer Council and the government‘s Centre for Food Safety found “alarming levels of salt and fat in 10 popular Hong Kong-style dishes” (“Choice of restaurant may be the key to healthier eating”, November 16).
 
They looked at food which is popular with local diners such as sweet and sour pork, scrambled eggs, fish fillets, steamed pork patties and salted eggs. Some dishes, especially the pork patty and salted egg, had very high sodium content.
 
It is important that restaurants take note of these findings, especially with raised levels of awareness about the health implications of what we eat. But of course, owners of these eateries want to make food as tasty as possible, so, for example, they add too much seasoning, when it is not needed in a particular dish.
 
I think legislation may eventually be needed to force restaurants to reduce salt content in their dishes as excessive salt raises the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
 
Eric Lui, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 27, 2017
Katrina Lo 5E

Young Post November 24, 2017
Trisha Tobar 4B

More than 60 per cent of Hongkongers use plastic utensils or straws when dining out, and that's not okay
 
I am writing in response to an article, “Two in three Hongkongers use plastic disposables for dining, adding to city’s waste crisis”, which was published on the South China Morning Post website on November 14.
 
According to the article, 66 per cent of respondents who took part in a survey use plastic utensils, and 68 per cent use straws when dining out. This trend has helped increase Hong Kong’s pollution problems because all those things end up in landfills which are almost full.
 
These landfills not only produce pollutants which spoil the atmosphere, they also waste precious space and cause a variety of health problems for residents. Therefore, I think it’s very important that Hong Kong reduces its use of plastic disposables.
 
The article mentions that Greenpeace has urged fast-food chains to encourage customers to bring their own cutlery, which I think is a great way to solve the problem. If restaurants started offering discounts to customers who brought their own cutlery, this would be a good incentive for others to follow suit.
 
It would help if people who use disposable cutlery reused the spoons, knives and forks, and recycled them when they could not be used any more.
 
However, it would be much more effective if we stopped using plastic disposables completely and switched to metal utensils instead.
 
Trisha Tobar, King Ling College

SCMP November 24, 2017
Sara Wong 5A

Helper subsidy for elderly an overdue move
 
China plans to allow more of its citizens to hire domestic helpers from abroad.
 
At the same time, the Hong Kong government says it may look into the feasibility of a subsidy so that elderly citizens who are on low incomes and living alone may hire helpers.
 
As the demand for these workers increases, we will have to find ways to encourage them to choose Hong Kong, including attractive terms.
 
I certainly back the launching of a pilot subsidy scheme for the single elderly to hire helpers.
 
Many elderly people who live alone in public housing would prefer to stay in their own flats rather than at a care home. They value their independence and believe they would enjoy a better quality of life by staying at home. Having a full-time helper would make this more feasible.
 
The subsidy scheme could also be extended to old people living with their families, as often the children have a lot of demands on their spare time, with jobs and their own young children to look after.
 
Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 24, 2017
Marco Kwan 5E

Citizens rightly objecting to restrictions
 
The central government is continuing to expand the “Great Firewall”, following from its decision earlier this year to shut down unauthorised VPNs. I do not think this crackdown can be justified.
 
Basically, China’s leaders do not want their citizens to know about the country’s dark side. For example, they want people to accept their sanitised version of history, such as the actions of Mao Zedong. They prefer to gloss over the tremendous suffering caused by many of his policies, such as the Cultural Revolution.
 
It also wants no discussion about what happened in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
 
The central government does not want its citizens to know the truth.
 
Many people have reacted angrily to these forms of online censorship.
 
They feel they should be free to use VPNs to surf websites they want to look at. I can understand their anger over these heavy-handed crackdowns by the authorities.
 
I am sure citizens on the mainland will continue to object to this internet crackdown.
 
Marco Kwan, Hang Hau

SCMP November 24, 2017
Tony Tsoi 2D

Angered by latest internet crackdown
 
I am concerned about the latest internet crackdown on the mainland by the central government (“Goodbye Skype. China internet censorship juggernaut rolls on without its former cyber tsar”, November 23).
 
This is the latest form of internet censorship, with the popular Skype application no longer being available in app stores for people to install in their smartphones.
 
People have used some of the apps on sale to read news from outside China, but they also use them, especially Skype, to keep in touch with friends and family. Now it will be more difficult for them to do this.
 
Not only are their rights being infringed, but I see this as an invasion of their privacy.
 
Such a move must raise concerns among citizens that virtually everything they now say online will be monitored by the authorities.
 
If they say something that the security forces object to, they could be arrested and end up in prison. So just expressing themselves in the privacy of their own home could land them in trouble.
 
However, I wonder if the central government can really crack down on all forms of internet communication between citizens, including shutting down virtual private networks (VPNs).
 
Leo Tse, Yau Tong

SCMP November 21, 2017
Leo Tse 2D

Custodial sentences can be a deterrent
 
The government should establish new laws with tougher punishment for people found guilty of bullying, including custodial sentences. Anyone under the age of 18 can be sent to a facility for young offenders.
 
People might think twice about bullying if they know they could be jailed and then come out with a criminal record.
 
The government also has to raise levels of awareness, so people realise that this is a serious problem and that anyone who witnesses bullying must report it to the authorities.
 
Other things can be done, such as having smaller class sizes in local schools. This has happened in Japan and has led to a decrease in the incidence of bullying.
 
Leo Tse, Yau Tong

SCMP November 21, 2017
Emily Shek 3B

Pupils would benefit from study hours cap
 
Young people in Hong Kong face a heavy workload. After spending around eight hours at school they will often then have extracurricular activities or tutorial classes and when they get back home have to do a lot of homework, including revision and preparing for tests.
 
Therefore, I support the proposal that there should be a daily study hours cap for pupils and I think it should be set at 10 hours. This law should also stipulate that there should be 30 minutes of exercise every day in school and pupils should have one hour free time to do whatever they want.
 
If they have this regular exercise period then hopefully they will develop a healthy habit and participate in sports in their spare time.
 
Also if they have a study hours cap then hopefully they can spend a lot of time with the rest of the family and parents will communicate more with their children leading to a closer relationship. Parents will then be able to discuss important topics like moral education.
 
Some countries do lay down guidelines for schools on the maximum amount of homework that pupils should have to do every evening.
 
I do agree with those people who advocate legislation being enacted to stop youngsters facing an impossible workload. It is important to place a limit on study times.
 
Emily Shek, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 20, 2017
Miki Chung 2D

Focus on the road, not your smartphone
 
I keep reading press reports about yet another traffic accident, and it would seem that there are now more crashes than ever before in Hong Kong.
 
These crashes may involve private cars, taxis, minibuses, buses or trucks. But I wonder why Hong Kong has so many of these accidents. While drivers can be at fault, for instance, if they had been speeding, sometimes careless -pedestrians can also be to blame.
 
I often see people walking across a road when the red “don’t walk” light is on at a pedestrian crossing, with their eyes glued to their smartphone instead of looking out for approaching vehicles.
 
If a car is going too fast, it may not be able to stop in time, causing a terrible accident.
 
However, it is not just careless pedestrians, impatient drivers caught in traffic can also cause accidents. All road users, whether drivers or pedestrians, need to take greater care.
 
People should be looking at the road and not their phones when they cross or drive.
 
Miki Chung Chi-yan, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP November 20, 2017
Trisha Tobar 4B

Urge diners to bring their own cutlery
 
It is disturbing to learn the results of a Greenpeace poll, which found that 66 per cent of respondents used plastic utensils and 68 per cent used plastic straws when dining out.
 
The use of disposable plastic is an increasing trend, and this is tough on our landfills which are close to saturation point.
 
I believe that fast food chains should encourage customers to bring their own cutlery, rather than use disposable plastic knives and forks. Or they could offer discounts to diners who return the plastic cutlery, rather than throw it away. Also, all these eateries should make sure they use biodegradable plastic.
 
Trisha Tobar, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 19, 2017
Edna Lau 2B

Trump, Kim need to show more maturity
 
There is an ongoing war of words between the leaders of America and North Korea.
 
US President Donald Trump has called President Kim Jong-un a “madman” and “rocket man”. Kim has branded Trump a “mentally deranged dotard”. Trump has also said he will, if necessary, use the full range of his nation’s weaponry to defend his country and its allies.
 
If a conflict did break out, even one with only conventional weapons, the death toll would be high. I hope we will see greater maturity from both leaders and that they will step back from any military option.
 
Edna Lau Wing-lam, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 19, 2017
Sandy Chan 5B

Hospital fee hike has hurt the grass roots
 
The Hospital Authority has reported an 18 per cent drop in the number of non-critical patients at public hospital emergency units, after charges were increased in June from HK$100 to HK$180.
 
While this may ease overcrowding, my concern is that many of those who visit these units are from low-income families and so may not be able to afford the increased fee. This is worrying if they are seriously ill and need urgent medical help.
 
I also think overcrowding will continue. Many people who do not have a medical emergency but can afford the HK$180 will still visit emergency departments when they should go to an ¬outpatient clinic instead. So I am not convinced that the fee hike has achieved its objective.
 
Sandy Chan, Yau Tong

SCMP November 19, 2017
Benson Wong 5A

Offer helpers permanent residency
 
The Labour and Welfare minister has said that Hong Kong will need a large number of domestic helpers to deal with the city’s ageing population, many of them acting as carers for elderly citizens.
 
However, as the mainland grows more prosperous, it will become more popular with helpers from the Philippines. So we will have to compete with employers from over the border and in other countries.
 
We will not get the numbers we need unless these workers are offered good employment packages. This must include allowing them right of abode when they have been here for seven years. Having worked as helpers for that period, as permanent residents they would then be free to apply for any job.
 
Also, the law must be changed so that helpers no longer have to live in their employers’ home. Flats in Hong Kong are often so cramped that there is nowhere decent for the helper to sleep. Prospective employees are more likely to come here if they can choose their own accommodation.
 
Benson Wong Tat-hin, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 18, 2017
Christy Lam 4B

Chinese history has a place in school
 
I refer to the letter by Lau Lok-yiu (“Pupils should learn about nation’s history”, November 13).
 
In recent years, survey results have shown that many Hong Kong people see themselves not as Chinese but as Hongkongers. Many of them have no sense of belonging to the country, and more people asking for Hong Kong independence. I agree that Chinese history should be a compulsory subject in junior secondary schools, even though I support neither the “yellow” nor “blue” factions in society.
 
Studying the past can help people learn from it, not just to avoid the wrongdoings, but to learn from the good; just like students study past exam papers to note common mistakes and avoid repeating them.
 
There may be similarities between the past and today, and students thus have a chance to reflect on whether our current government is working well.
 
Studying Chinese history, combined with liberal studies, will help students think outside the box. Through Chinese history, students can also learn about changes in Hong Kong.
 
History is not only about rulers, but interesting ideas like the invention of paper. By studying these developments throughout the centuries, students will be admiring the beauty of some Chinese traditions.
 
Chinese history can be combined with English too. Simply reciting facts is boring, so how about creating a history drama? Students could translate historic scenes into English and perform them. With this teaching method, students will learn history more easily.
 
Christy Lam, Po Lam

SCMP November 18, 2017
Vincy Pun 4B

E-sports will increase job opportunities
 
E-sports are a new concept for some people. But the technology has developed rapidly.
 
Many adolescents and adults like to play electronic games and the government has been urged to help (“Call for e-sports to be recognised and -subsidised”, November 13).
 
When e-sports are recognised, professional teams will have their own coaches and receive training like athletes do. Some people really do well with electronic gaming, but their talents are often not recognised as most people still consider games only as a form of entertainment.
 
Playing games is not always a good thing. Playing too much will hurt people’s eyes. However, there are advantages. E-sports will increase job opportunities, especially for young people. Some students do not do well at school and e-sports are a new job option.
 
Vincy Pun, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 17, 2017
Samuel Yu 5A

Allow helpers to feel at home in Hong Kong
 
The Labour and Welfare secretary has said that 600,000 domestic helpers will be needed in the next 30 years to take care of Hong Kong’s rapidly ageing -population.
 
Demand for domestic helpers will also increase across the border, among well-off mainland families.
 
If we cannot offer helpers an attractive package they will go elsewhere, including over the border. Hong Kong will become a less attractive place to work.
 
The government will have to offer them more than helpers already working here get. For example, they will have to be eligible to apply for permanent residency after seven years, just like other expatriates.
 
Also, government monitoring procedures must be beefed up to protect helpers from abuse. For instance, you read of workers being forced to go outside on ledges to clean windows on a high floor of a block of flats. The laws protecting these helpers must be tightened.
 
The live-in rule, which says helpers must stay with their employer, should be scrapped. Many flats are so small that domestic helpers are forced to sleep in a bathroom or on the kitchen floor. This is wrong.
 
Samuel Yu, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP November 17, 2017
Jackie Lo 5D

Belt and road schemes can help graduates
 
I agree with those who say that Hong Kong citizens, especially young graduates, can gain from the city’s involvement in the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
 
This development strategy was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to boost the nation’s economic growth and its trade with other countries on the route of the old land-based and maritime silk roads.
 
It will improve connectivity between these countries, and bring about enhanced business, cultural and academic exchanges. More undergraduates from here will go to universities in the countries along the belt and road to study and vice versa, helped by funding from the Hong Kong government.
 
Hopefully, once they have graduated, many of them, with the experience gained during these exchanges, will start their careers in projects linked to the belt and road strategy.
 
Studying and then working in those countries will help them to broaden their horizons.
 
I certainly feel the initiative will offer me more opportunities when I graduate.
 
I hope that there would be a lot of belt and road career opportunities for young Hongkongers like me.
 
Jackie Lo, Tseung Kwan O

Young Post November 17, 2017
Icy Wong 4B

SCMP November 17, 2017
Marco Chan 5C

Young Post November 15, 2017
Tiffany Lau 1A

SCMP November 15, 2017
Carrie Chong 6A

SCMP November 14, 2017
Mandy Hui 2D

Much more must be done to tackle’s Hong Kong’s mental health crisis
 
I refer to the article (“As one in six Hong Kong people suffers from mental illness, Dr Lucy Lord talks about how the city can change its outlook”, November 11).
 
It is important to ask why so many citizens have psychological problems. With students, stress caused by their high workload, is a major factor. Many adults are unhappy in their workplace and if they have to put in a lot of hours at the office they cannot get enough time to rest and relax. Then there are external factors, such as not earning enough to get a mortgage and eventually own a home.
 
Less pressure should be placed on children. Often, for example, they are forced by parents to do extracurricular activities that they don’t enjoy. They should be allowed to sign up for those activities which interest them.
 
Troubled teenagers need the support of their families. They are more likely to be able to deal with stressful events if they are able to talk things through with caring family members. This can help them to calm their emotions. They can also seek professional help.
 
Companies should recognise the importance of providing a healthy working environment for their employees which can help to lower stress levels. If these levels appear to be high, employers should look into this and see if solutions can be found. If necessary, counselling services should be provided. Staff who have to work long hours, should be given sufficient time to rest between shifts.
 
There are not enough government-run mental health facilities. The Hospital Authority must have integrated mental-health community centres in all 18 districts offering comprehensive programmes for citizens.
 
Mandy Hui Kei-tung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 14, 2017
Cherry Yeung 6A

School’s initiative shows how pupils can enjoy the learning process
 
As a secondary level pupil I really appreciate the ideas adopted by a school in Tin Shui Wai (“How one Hong Kong school broke away from city’s cramming culture”, November 11).
 
W F Joseph Lee Primary School operates what it calls “multiple intelligence” classes, comprising various activities, including gardening and washing dishes. When I was at primary school, I had to endure a rote-learning culture and days filled with tedious tests and drills. This spoon-fed education system does not encourage creativity or your critical thinking faculties.
 
Therefore, it is great to find a school which does not only focus on textbooks, but allows pupils to get involved in activities which are non-academic, stimulating and enjoyable. At this school they are not just learning academic subjects in class, but also life skills.
 
I would like to see more local schools following the example set by W F Joseph Lee. They can benefit so much from learning these life skills and it gives them time away from their textbooks and can help to relieve the pressure they face from a heavy workload.
 
Schools should be aiming to create all-round individuals, not just young people who can do well in exams. Teachers and school heads need to think outside the box and beyond the compulsory syllabus.
 
Cherry Yeung Chin-wai, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 14, 2017
Burnet Chong 5A

SCMP November 14, 2017
Eugene Ho 2D

Young Post November 13, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP November 11, 2017
Carina Cheung 2C

Addiction to online gaming hurts studies
 
I refer to your article on free online games (“Are you being played?”, October 30).
 
Many players want to download popular games, especially if these are free-to-play.
 
However, they may have to pay real money during the game when they need some land or weapons, which helps game publishers to make money.
 
Teenagers are big fans of online gaming, but I think they must focus on studies and not waste all their time on this.
 
They can spend all day playing at the weekends, which will affect their school work. Their parents can get angry if they are so addicted to gaming, and this can lead to quarrels in the family. So it is best that teens limit their gaming time, so that their studies are not hampered.
 
Carina Cheung, Hang Hau

SCMP November 11, 2017
Priscilla Ko 6B

Non-Chinese parents being left in the lurch
 
I refer to your report on the lack of English in preschool evaluation reports (“Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities can’t assess preschool quality as reports are not in English”, November 2).
 
Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, where non-Chinese speakers (aged five and over) number more than 430,000. Ensuring quality education for non-Chinese pupils is also a pressing problem for society.
 
The government and the bureau have always advocated the idea of “integrated education”, saying pupils of different needs and ethnicities should study together. Therefore, it is ironic that the bureau is failing to support non-Chinese parents.
 
Without official education quality reports in English, these parents will struggle to find out whether these preschools suit their children or not. Eventually, they may be driven away from local to international schools. This not only goes against integrated education, but also hurts non-Chinese parents’ trust in Hong Kong’s education system.
 
Being a large-scale government organisation, the Education Bureau should be able to provide Chinese and English documents as references.
 
Priscilla Ko Ka-ying, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 11, 2017
Patrick Leung 4D

Let hawkers showcase local food culture
 
I refer to Niall Fraser’s column on the food truck scheme being a poor substitute for Hong Kong hawkers (“Food truck scheme hard to stomach after glory days of Hong Kong’s street hawkers”, October 31).
 
The government started a food truck scheme for selling snacks or Hong Kong-style dishes in different areas around town, such as tourist spots. -Unfortunately, the results have disappointed everyone.
 
Because of the high cost of the license and few patrons, the food had to be sold at high prices to meet costs.
 
It became so tough to turn a profit that three truck operators chose to quit, with only two from the waiting list willing to take their place in the scheme, which was rolled out in February with 16 food trucks.
 
News reports said it can cost as much as HK$1 million in monthly rents and initial investment to operate a food truck, while a hawker’s trolley only costs HK$8,000.
 
Moreover, because the pressure of maintenance costs is lower, hawkers can sell their snacks at a low price. Most ¬importantly, the food they sell is very popular among locals.
 
The government has cracked down on hawking activities in recent years, citing hygiene concerns. But hawkers serve the community with their cheap and tasty street food, and are a tourist attraction as well. I feel the government should be more flexible about street hawkers. It is very hard for the grass roots to apply for a hawking licence. They only wish to earn enough to support themselves and their families. Why not give them a chance to do so?
 
Seeing as how some visitors to the city actually prefer to eat at unlicensed hawker stalls, maybe it is time to legalise such hawker activity.
 
Not only will this help the hawkers to find a stable livelihood, it can also become a cultural draw for tourists, like the night markets of Taiwan.
 
Patrick Leung, Sai Kung

Young Post November 10, 2017
Anson Chow 3B

SCMP November 10, 2017
Teresa Ng 5B

SCMP November 09, 2017
Kaka Lau 6B

SCMP November 09, 2017
Spencer Lee 6B

SCMP November 09, 2017
Michael Ke 5A

SCMP November 09, 2017
Karen Chan 6B

SCMP November 08, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP November 08, 2017
Emily Leung 4D

SCMP November 07, 2017
Gary Chan 2C

Important to protect personal data when you are online
 
I refer to the report (“Are you being played?” October 30) about how free apps collect our data.
 
Popular apps take information and profiles of users and sell it on. Also through these profiles some of those developers of computer games can work out how people will play and those players who be willing to pay for extras. If your data is sent to other firms then you may get apps you are encouraged to buy.
 
Of course most of us use popular social networks like Facebook all the time and with any platform or app, we have to log in and we will have to give some personal information and details.
 
However, we do have to think more carefully about what they will do with that data and who it will go to when we register with a new app. It may not create any problems for us and we may welcome the offer of an app to purchase, because it is something that we want. However, I hope all internet users will think more carefully about what personal information they share online.
 
Chan Kei-wai, Sai Kung

SCMP November 07, 2017
Lok Lo 4D

Pensioners not getting enough help from the government
 
It is often assumed that with such a low tax rate, people in Hong Kong are well placed to save a lot for their retirement. However, this is not the case for all citizens, especially those on low incomes.
 
The government pension system is far from perfect and because of that many people cannot look forward to a carefree retirement. The Mandatory Provident Fund, while it helps, will not provide enough money for people in their old age. It does at least force employees to save and employers to make a contribution, but it does not go far enough. It will not meet the various expenses faced by pensioners, especially in this city with such high prices and inflation.
 
Also, many citizens are saving desperately to make a down payment for a flat. With the high price of property, this leaves them with little left to put aside for their retirement. Even if they get to own an apartment they could struggle with insufficient savings for daily necessities.
 
The government must overhaul its retirement and pensions policies. It must have a comprehensive strategy which can make a real difference to the lives of those old folk who are faced with poverty.
 
This is an international finance centre. None of our elderly citizens should be living miserable lives, because they do not have an adequate pension.
 
Lo Man-lok, Po Lam

SCMP November 07, 2017
Tor Yeung 4D

It is a common practice in other countries for citizens to respect their national anthem
 
The pan-democrats have called for a comprehensive public consultation exercise over how the national anthem law will apply in Hong Kong. However, a pro-Beijing politician has said that asking citizens about every detail of this legislation is impractical (“What will get Hongkongers into trouble under national anthem law? Government called on for details”, November 5).
 
It is important to have a proper public consultation process and not a cosmetic exercise. Citizens want to know what the consequences of their actions will be under this legislation. It would be wrong if they were arrested for breaking a law they do not understand.
 
I understand the motivation behind a national anthem law. It is important for Hong Kong citizens to realise that while we have “one country, two systems” this city is still part of China. We should be doing the same as citizens in other countries who show respect for their national anthem. The pan-democrats would argue there is a difference, because these countries are democracies which is not the case with China. However, we are taught in school to show respect for others and we should also show respect for this important song.
 
Perhaps the government should do more in the area of civic education where pupils are taught about showing respect for certain things in society. It could be included in the liberal studies curriculum.
 
Also, classes could look at the lyrics in the anthem and the history behind the song.
 
As I said, youngsters in other countries learn to show respect for their national anthem and I think this is a reasonable law.
 
Tor Yeung, Hang Hau

SCMP November 07, 2017
Kaley Au Yeung 4D

SCMP November 07, 2017
Ken Ting 2C

SCMP November 07, 2017
Kaecee Wong 4D

Young Post November 06, 2017
Kelly Zheng 3C

Young Post November 06, 2017
Phoebe Lee 3B

SCMP November 06, 2017
Janice Chan 5B

SCMP November 06, 2017
Adrian Wong 3C

SCMP November 04, 2017
Cindy Wong 5A

For an easy life, phone apps are the way to pay
 
As technology makes life more convenient, the way people pay has also changed. Applications like Apple Pay and Alipay have already become popular alternative payment methods, and they have dozens of advantages.
 
First is convenience. Users do not need to bring cash when dining or shopping, which means there are no limits to their choices.
 
With these payment apps, they do not have to wait in line at the ATMs, which saves a lot of time. No more remembering passwords to withdraw cash, or counting it out at checkouts or when settling bills.
 
These payment apps are also more accurate, as the bill up to the last cent can be settled immediately. No more struggling with loose change or getting the amount wrong. The process of finishing a payment is made so much smoother.
 
Cindy Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 04, 2017
Simon Chung 5A

Egyptian relics revealed city’s cultural bent
 
A recently concluded four-month exhibition at the Science Museum about ancient Egyptian culture, featuring mummies from the British Museum, drew a lot of crowds.
 
The popularity of the exhibition showed that Hongkongers enjoy learning about different cultures. However, they do not get enough chances to do so. The response to the Egyptian cultural relics only proves that more large-scale exhibitions are needed in the city.
 
These can also help Hong Kong students broaden their horizons, as they become familiar with other cultures and gain a more global outlook, adding to their competitive edge. The government and big private firms can together arrange for more such exhibitions in the city.
 
Simon Chung, Kwun Tong

SCMP November 03, 2017
Janson Luk 5A

Study hours cap in schools is unrealistic
 
There have been calls for standard hours to be established for secondary school students to relieve the stress they feel.
 
The argument is that the workload takes a heavy toll on the mental health of youngsters and that many do not get enough sleep so they can allocate more time for homework and revision.
 
However, if a standard hours rule was implemented, this would leave some pupils with insufficient time to do all their academic work. It would mean they were unprepared for the important exams like the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam. This could actually lead to them feeling greater stress, because of their fear of doing badly.
 
In order to do well in the DSE exam, many teenagers have no choice but to put in a lot of hours. Many attend tutorial classes and then have homework. They feel they have to do this if they want to score well in the exam. Different students have varying levels of ability. It would not be realistic to implement a study hours cap in local schools.
 
Jason Luk, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP November 03, 2017
Shirley Lau 3C

Happy racers reported a clean harbour
 
This year’s cross-harbour race was special because it started from the original site for the first time in almost four decades. Swimmers went from Kowloon side to Hong Kong Island.
 
This will have brought back a lot of good memories for elderly residents who are old enough to remember these races.
 
I was pleased to read that many racers reported that the water was clean and this has encouraged them to join the race again next year.
 
The race highlights the importance of keeping our harbour and the rest of our city clean. I hope citizens are becoming more aware of the need to be environmentally friendly and not to discard litter on the streets or in any of our beautiful coastal areas.
 
Shirley Lau, Hang Hau

SCMP November 03, 2017
Kitty Lui 5B

SCMP November 03, 2017
Sandy Chan 5B

SCMP November 03, 2017
Sky Kwan 3C

SCMP November 03, 2017
Clarins Ng 5B

SCMP November 02, 2017
Jojo Wong 3C

SCMP November 02, 2017
Mike Fung 3C

SCMP November 01, 2017
Anshar Mok 4C

SCMP November 01, 2017
Jordan Chan 4E

SCMP November 01, 2017
Ivan Tsoi 4E

SCMP October 31, 2017
Suki Lee 5A

Bike-share problems show need for more parking areas
 
Bike-sharing services are becoming more popular in Hong Kong. They offer a more environmentally-friendly way for people to get around town especially where there are cycle tracks, such as in the New Territories. However, they are also creating problems. A lot of these bikes are just left by users in areas that are not designated for bicycle parking.
 
This is obviously unsightly and a nuisance, especially in busy public areas, but the government does not seem to be addressing the problem and it needs to act as soon as possible. People who are caught dumping these bikes should be fined to act as a deterrent.
 
One of the reasons this is happening so frequently is because there are so few public parking spaces for bikes. The government needs to designate more areas for these bikes and the police must have more operations where they clear the illegally-parked bicycles.
 
Also, the government must have more civic education and raise levels of awareness. People who hire one of these bikes have to act responsibly and return them to the bike-share operator.
 
The operators should also be deploying staff to collect the bikes so they do not cause such a nuisance.
 
Suki Lee, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 31, 2017
Michelle Mai 5B

Students need to focus on having healthy diets
 
The government is failing to pay attention to the important issue of how a bad diet can affect the health of citizens, especially young people (“Teenagers in Hong Kong don’t get enough fruit, vegetable or exercise and risk strokes in later life”, October 29).
 
Students in Hong Kong suffer from a lot of stress, because of their punishing workload. They often have to do so much homework that they might snack instead of having a proper meal. A friend of mine studies virtually all the time and has given up all her leisure activities. She is not eating properly and does not look well.
 
If youngsters like this continue with these unhealthy habits as adults then it will have negative consequences for them and for society and in later life they could be at greater risk of strokes. It is detrimental to society if so many adults are unhealthy and getting sick.
 
The government should recognise there is a problem and take action. It should be getting schools to organise more physical education, including running and swimming. For example, when you go to a swimming pool you notice that many of the people there are elderly citizens, with hardly any young people of school age. They must be encouraged to get into the habit of regular exercise and healthy diets.
 
Michelle Mai, Sau Mau Ping

SCMP October 31, 2017
Oscar Au Yeung 5B

SCMP October 31, 2017
Coco Wong 4C

SCMP October 30, 2017
Miriam Deng 3A

SCMP October 28, 2017
Ken Au 4E

Parents can do more to stamp out bullying
 
I am writing in response to Anthea Rowan’s article (“Are boot camps the best way to deal with bullies?”, October 16.)
 
I believe schools should play a key role in stopping students from bullying others, but ¬parents can also address why some children feel they have to harass and push others around.
 
Children need to understand the effect of their actions, and in this sense boot camps would help by instilling a sense of tolerance and discipline.
 
In the camps they can learn from the coach the skills and attitude needed to conform to the basic standards of a civil society.
 
In my opinion, boot camps could be a crucial turning point for bullies to fix their unacceptable behaviour.
 
If schools and parents work together, bullying will be much less of an issue, but it is parents who can have the most influence. Since children spend much more time with their ¬parents than with a teacher, ¬parental influence and guidance is a most significant factor.
 
Parents should take control to ensure their children know what is acceptable behaviour, and that it is wrong to be a bully.
 
Ken Au, Kwun Tong

SCMP October 28, 2017
Kevin Wong 4E

Crack down on country park litterbugs
 
I refer to your article on littering in country parks (“Four in five Hong Kong country park visitors back removal of rubbish bins by end of year”, October 22).
 
The article said that roughly half of country park visitors took their rubbish away with them. As autumn is the peak walking and hiking season, I am worried more rubbish will be left behind.
 
At this time of year, more and more visitors also use the country parks to unwind with family and friends with barbecues. Inevitably, extra rubbish piles up and bins overflow, all because thoughtless people can’t be bothered to clean up and take their waste away.
 
The government makes regular efforts, broadcasting advertisements to educate the public about the importance of protecting the ecology of our country parks, but the message is not getting through to everyone.
 
It’s not just lack of knowledge that is the problem, but also apathy. People enjoying a barbecue will often just dump garbage on the ground without thinking.
 
The government should show zero tolerance. Penalties must be imposed to let irresponsible citizens know the consequences before they damage the environment. More security ¬officers can be allocated to watch for litterbugs in country parks. Surveillance cameras would also act as a deterrent.
 
Kevin Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 27, 2017
Jerry Lam 5A

Rich-poor gap could trigger social conflict
 
Hong Kong is a global financial hub, but still has 70,000 families surviving on HK$15 per meal per person. This is ridiculous. The government must really work towards creating a better wealth distribution system.
 
Even a set lunch at a casual restaurant can cost at least HK$40, so there’s no way these families can afford to eat out.
 
Meanwhile, the rich people are richer than ever, while the poor can never aspire to a better quality of life. The Gini coefficient of Hong Kong is one of the highest in the world. Our small city houses both the richest people in Asia and those who can’t even buy a proper meal.
 
What is needed is welfare policies for the poor and support for the middle class, to prevent serious social conflict in a continued M-shaped society.
 
Jerry Lam, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 27, 2017
Donald Wong 5A

Awareness is first step for mental health
 
Reports say that Hongkongers do not clearly understand how depression or other mental illness can affect their lives.
 
Busy Hongkongers seldom have time to relax. This is true especially of students, who have to face the crucial Diploma of Secondary Education exam and other pressures, be it from parents and teachers or peers.
 
The pressure may see some of them develop a mental illness. However, due to their lack of awareness of the symptoms of mental illness and its impact, they may not seek help or care about it.
 
The government has a responsibility to educate Hongkongers about mental illness and the need to seek help if required. The stigma around mental health issues must be removed.
 
Moreover, schools should help pupils to reduce their stress by communicating more openly with them. Students battling stress may feel helpless and would welcome advice from counsellors. Parents must also be more understanding of the emotional status of children.
 
Many mental illnesses are caused by different forms of stress. If we can identify and express our problems as soon as possible, stress won’t ultimately turn into depression.
 
Donald Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 27, 2017
Icy Po 2A

SCMP October 27, 2017
Peter Tam 5A

SCMP October 26, 2017
Laurant Li 5A

Young Post October 25, 2017
Enoch Yeung 3A

Talking Points: should we use gender neutral toys to prevent stereotypes from forming at an early age?
 
Nowadays, many people believe boys like the colour blue while girls prefer pink or purple. For the most part, it is actually true, thanks to gender stereotypes being formed at a young age. Everyone is shouting “gender equality”, while one sex is allowed to do things the other cannot. Things need to change and giving gender-neutral toys to kids aged below three is a good start. Then, for instance, girls who don’t like dolls don’t have to worry about fitting in with girls who like dolls.
 
But what if the baby rejects gender-neutral toys? Parents who only give such toys to their kids will face many limitations. Then the children should be allowed to make their own choice. If a baby likes a toy, whether it is gender-neutral or not, it won’t cause discrimination as long as the parents don’t talk about it.
 
Enoch Yeung, 14, King Ling College

SCMP October 24, 2017
Chammy Chow 4E

Young Post October 23, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

Young Post October 23, 2017
Katie Sze 3B

SCMP October 23, 2017
Mandy Hui 2D

SCMP October 23, 2017
Yuki Pang 5B

SCMP October 21, 2017
Billy Sit 5A

Soccer fans’ anthem boos disrespectful
 
An Asian Cup football qualifier between Hong Kong and Malaysia on October 10 again had local fans booing the national anthem and some even showed their middle finger as it played. Such behaviour is childish, disrespectful and damages Hong Kong’s reputation.
 
Even though these fans might say that they do not see themselves as Chinese, it is simply a matter of respect recognised around the world that national anthems deserve. Would they boo the American national anthem?
 
US President Donald Trump has criticised players at National Football League games who have knelt in protest at racism and police brutality as the national anthem is played but it should not be an occasion for politics and the issue of freedom of speech.
 
Hong Kong’s pan-democrats always use this as an excuse for booing the national anthem and opposing a proposed national anthem law. They forget that the anthem is not about the right of free speech but nationalities. If they do not recognise their national ¬anthem, no country will want to accept them as their citizens. The soccer fans have already hurt Hong Kong.
 
Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 21, 2017
James Wong 5E

Timing of China history rule is odd
 
 
The majority of schools today already teach Chinese history as an independent subject, while others incorporate it in their world history lessons. Extending Chinese history to become an independent compulsory subject will probably not pose a huge threat to Hong Kong.
 
Some might say that this is already national education, but I don’t think so. I’m sure students from forms one to three have critical thinking skills, and Chinese history isn’t very biased in general.
 
However, it is quite odd that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngorhas decided to announce this at such a time, during the peak of teenagers’ disapproval towards China.
 
James Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 21, 2017
Kitty Lui 5B

Make students think for themselves
 
I agree with Roanna Ng about local schools (“Rote learning and exam focus not smart”, October 7).
 
Hong Kong’s education system has been criticised for spoon-feeding because students just memorise the teaching material that is given by the teacher or acquire some skills to take the exam. Many students fail to acquire critical thinking skills and other talents that will be useful in later life, especially when they find a job. Students are simply studying to prepare for exams and they have lost the inspiration to chase more knowledge that will be useful to them. We all know there are many university graduates who cannot find a job.
 
Schools need to offer more liberal studies lessons to allow students to develop their critical thinking, which will be crucial in their futures.
 
Critical thinking and creativity will be much more useful in the long term than just passing an exam. The knowledge needed for an exam may not necessarily be relevant later but the critical thinking skills will last a lifetime. More discussion sessions during lessons would make students think more and not just rely on the answer given by teachers.
 
The government also should promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). The objectives of STEM education are to prepare youngsters for the future needs of society through learning activities that require knowledge and skills across all the four disciplines so that they can solve problems, innovate and create.
 
Kitty Lui Sze-ki, Hang Hau

SCMP October 20, 2017
Christopher Chan 2D

Race shows the potential of solar power
 
I was interested to read about the 3,000km solar car race across Australia’s outback (“Driven by the sun”, October 15).
 
The teams came up with designs that could eventually lead to solar-powered cars being produced and sold commercially. This event is important because there is a growing awareness of the importance of environmental protection.
 
If we are to save the earth’s precious resources, finding more solar energy -options will become increasingly important.
 
Christopher Chan, Po Lam

Young Post October 20, 2017
Joyce Tsang 3D

SCMP October 20, 2017
Andy Yeung 5E

SCMP October 20, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP October 20, 2017
Mario Man 6A

SCMP October 19, 2017
Anson Ng 5E

SCMP October 18, 2017
Sara Wong 5A

SCMP October 18, 2017
Miki Hui 5B

SCMP October 17, 2017
Walter Chong 5B

It is important to understand Chinese history
 
In her policy address Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced that Chinese history would be an independent compulsory subject for junior secondary pupils.
 
Eventually Hong Kong will be fully integrated in the country. Young people need to understand the history of their city, but they should also feel a sense of belonging to the country. We have seen a lot of citizens, including youngsters, adopting radical ideas. I would like to see more of them recognising the importance of being part of the nation.
 
Also, learning this subject can help to develop pupils’ critical thinking skills. It is a long, rich and often complex history, so it will prove challenging to them and help them to become more analytical.
 
Also, if they start studying it from an earlier age, some might find they have a real talent and decide to specialise in Chinese history. So I support it being made a compulsory subject.
 
Walter Chong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 17, 2017
Samuel Cheng 5A

SCMP October 17, 2017
William Wan 5B

SCMP October 17, 2017
Kenneth Cheung 5B

SCMP October 17, 2017
Carly Fung 5A

SCMP October 16, 2017
Suki Lee 5A

SCMP October 16, 2017
Trisha Tobar 4B

SCMP October 16, 2017
Louis Fung 5B

SCMP October 14, 2017
Judy Fung 3A

Mass killing highlights gun control need
 
Following the worst mass shooting in modern US history, in Las Vegas, surely it is time to get serious about gun controls in the United States.
 
Many citizens would have hoped President Donald Trump’s reaction to the dozens of deaths and hundreds of wounded would have been stronger than just offering his condolences to affected families.
 
Trump should have been vocal in his support for a crackdown at least on the sale of military-style automatic weapons.
 
Besides the importance of controls on owning guns, ¬checking of travellers’ luggage need to be much tighter. The gunman in the Las Vegas ¬killings, Stephen Paddock, managed to get a pile of weapons, many of them large rifles, into his hotel room without any questions being raised.
 
Judy Fung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 14, 2017
Walter Chong 5B

Youth should get involved in policymaking
 
It shocks me that some youngsters do not want to be consulted about polices by the government (“Hong Kong’s young people don’t want to be involved in policymaking, consultation shows”, October 2). Apparently they think the government will not listen to them and they feel they do not have enough -experience.
 
If teenagers do nothing and don’t share their views with officials, how can the government know what young people are thinking? It’s important to at least try to make a difference by getting involved in policymaking and making the most of a chance to communicate with the government. If you never get involved, you will never have enough experience to try to make changes.
 
I think young people would be happy to engage in policymaking if they thought the government would listen to them and give them a voice.
 
I hope the government will listen to what Hong Kong’s youth are saying.
 
Walter Chong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 14, 2017
Timmy Chan 5B

Housing first priority, not green belts
 
I am responding to the report about housing and green belt worries (“Green group urges rethink over Tseung Kwan O public housing plan”, October 8).
 
According to the report, the Conservancy Association said an environmental assessment of the area missed several rare species of vegetation and the green group urged the government to rethink the design of the housing plan.
 
I realise that it is important to have some green-belt sites to help protect the environment, but it is far more important to have more public housing to provide everyone with a comfortable, liveable home. Increase house supply first, then consider how to ensure enough green-belt sites.
 
Chan Chak-chung, Po Lam

SCMP October 14, 2017
Michael Hui 5B

Ban annoying phone marketing
 
Most people in Hong Kong have been on the receiving end of cold calling by direct marketers and this practice, which is harassment, should be stopped. Cold calling is not the best way to promote and sell products.
 
These brokers will ignore their potential customers when they say they are not interested in buying anything and it’s little wonder people just hang up the phone in frustration.
 
Surely a smarter way to lure customers would be promoting their goods through the internet. Word of a useful or desirable product would soon spread via social networks.
 
Buyers need time to ponder over a website, and not be ¬pressured on the phone.
 
Michael Hui, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP October 13, 2017
Sisca Chan 3A

More will die thanks to lax gun laws in US
 
While US President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for the victims in the mass shooting in Las Vegas which left 58 people dead and 500 wounded, he -refused to back calls to tighten the country’s gun laws.
 
The shooter, Stephen Paddock, was reported to have over 20 guns in the hotel room where he carried out his attack, raising questions about how one individual can have so many deadly weapons. Trump simply reiterated his argument that it is the right of American citizens to own and carry firearms.
 
If there is no change in the law and rules are not tightened, we will see more of these mass shootings. They can happen at any time and anywhere in the US. I am glad that in Hong Kong, citizens cannot own guns.
 
In the US, how can owners of several weapons argue that they have bought them all to protect themselves? This is a very selfish attitude and it makes no sense.
 
Sisca Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Young Post October 13, 2017
Trisha Tobar 4B

SCMP October 13, 2017
Sandy Chan 5B

SCMP October 13, 2017
Burnet Chong 5A

SCMP October 12, 2017
Don Wong 6C

SCMP October 12, 2017
Clarins Ng 5B

SCMP October 12, 2017
Angela Chan 6C

SCMP October 11, 2017
Sinheilia Cheng 5B

SCMP October 11, 2017
Teresa Ng 5B

SCMP October 11, 2017
Jocelly Tse 5B

SCMP October 10, 2017
Hilary Lee 2D

Long shifts for bus drivers a serious health issue
 
The reports on the recent bus accident highlighted the problem of bus drivers working long shifts. Transport unions have pointed out that shifts as long as 14 hours leave the drivers tired and there must be a review of these shifts.
 
If an employee is tired then there is a greater risk of an accident and this should be a cause for concern for all franchised bus firms and the passengers who use their services.
 
It may make some people think twice about travelling on buses or they may choose areas of the bus where they think there is less likelihood of getting hurt if there is a road traffic accident.
 
It is not good for someone’s health to be working such long hours. If an agreement cannot be reached between the drivers and their employers, the government should consider legislation so that the hours of bus drivers are cut.
 
Hilary Lee, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 10, 2017
Yuki Pang 5B

SCMP October 09, 2017
Louis Fung 5B

SCMP October 07, 2017
Carol Mo 6E

Container homes could be an option
 
I refer to the report (“Why is Hong Kong getting container homes? And will they work?”, September 30).
 
Container homes could be regarded as a reasonable alternative to address the inadequate supply of housing and shorten the long waiting list for public housing. The government will need to consider several aspects in dealing with the issue.
 
Firstly, it must decide whether these containers homes will be temporary housing for those on the waiting list or could make viable, permanent dwellings for long-term residency.
 
A converted shipping container may not be to everyone’s taste, but if they are designed well, they could make genuinely comfortable homes for some ¬locals.
 
The living conditions inside the container homes should not be neglected and basics such as air conditioners would be crucial given that the containers usually are made of metal.
 
Energy efficiency must be a priority because of the high cost of cooling, and heating, a metal box.
 
I hope the government can develop this idea and keep coming up with others to alleviate the chronic housing shortage problem.
 
Every Hongkonger deserves a place they can call home.
 
Carol Mo Ka-wai, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 07, 2017
Peter Tam 5A

Lack of car spaces drives illegal parking
 
I am writing about the issue of raising fines for illegal parking. I very much doubt higher fines will make much of a difference to this widespread problem.
 
Raising fines seems of little use in addressing the cause of the problem. In too many cases, there are no parking spaces near the drivers’ homes, so they can either use a car park that is far from their homes, or illegally park their vehicles on the street nearby. Obviously, most drivers choose the latter.
 
There are not enough car parks, which are costly, or spaces in Hong Kong and so many drivers risk the fine for illegal parking.
 
If the number of parking spaces is increased to a satisfactory level and the problem of illegal parking still continues, the government should then consider including illegal parking in the driving-offence points system in which loss of points can eventually lead to licence disqualification.
 
The government should act on the root of the problem and ensure drivers have no excuse for illegal parking.
 
Peter Tam, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 06, 2017
Hebe Ng 6E

Aid scheme for poor needs fine-tuning
 
Although Hong Kong is a developed city, there are still a lot of people on low incomes and intergenerational poverty persists. Escaping from the poverty trap is tough, and some government efforts to help are flawed and need fine-tuning (“Low income workers unhappier after joining government allowance scheme”, September 28).
 
Poor working families who get a government allowance are finding that the conditions attached often mean the recipients have to put in long hours.
 
This is because they must make sure their “working hours are long enough while their salary is still within the income limit specified”.
 
This is leaving many of them dissatisfied with the present arrangement.
 
Officials need to review the rules, so that if people work longer hours they are entitled to a higher allowance.
 
If the scheme is forcing people to work long hours for low pay then it is surely not achieving its objective of helping poor families.
 
The government needs to draft policies that can tackle the root causes of intergenerational poverty, and help more people enjoy a better living environment and eventually achieve upward social mobility.
 
Hebe Ng, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 06, 2017
Zoe Chung 5A

SCMP October 04, 2017
Cedar Ma 3D

Don’t let your smartphone rule your life
 
It is often pointed out that one of the advantages of a smartphone is that it helps you to keep in touch with family and friends. So it is ironic that often when you see people at family gatherings or meeting with friends, they spend much of their time on their phones, instead of using this valuable time for one-on-one conversations.
 
We should value these times when we can meet relatives and friends face to face. We can meet for lunch or dinner, and can catch up on what they are doing by talking to them, rather than via social network platforms. It can often be difficult to arrange such meetings, as we Hongkongers lead such hectic lives, so we must treasure them more.
 
We must recognise the ¬importance of ensuring that we are in control of our smartphones, and not the other way around. No matter how often we send text messages or connect online, we should never forget the importance of -meeting up in person as often as possible.
 
Chan Sum-kiu, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 04, 2017
Sharon Lai 2D

SCMP October 04, 2017
Kenny Tong 5A

SCMP October 04, 2017
Mandy Hui 2D

SCMP October 03, 2017
Janice Chan 5B

Government must talk openly to teens about stress
 
Most young people have little interest in the Hong Kong government’s plans to involve them in policymaking, according to the initial findings of a youth policy consultation.
 
During the chief executive election campaign, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had said her administration would recruit young people into the Central Policy Unit and advisory bodies. However, the initial participation rate is very low.
 
When looking at the problems faced by her administration, high property prices and a lack of economic diversity are the most pressing issues she faces. The younger generation faces difficulties trying to find a decent job and place to live. Many feel that their quality of life is not good.
 
Officials need to talk openly to young people about the stress they feel, especially at secondary school. Some students continue to take their own lives, because they cannot deal with the stress and depression.
 
While it may be too simplistic to blame the education system for all the problems experienced by our youngsters, we do need to look closely at it, especially the exam-oriented set-up which causes young people a great deal of stress.
 
The government has to recognise there are problems and do something about them. It should be working hand in hand with youngsters to make the necessary changes.
 
Chan Sum-kiu, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 03, 2017
Tony Tsoi 2D

Passengers should be able to make e-payments in taxis
 
I think it would be good if taxis allowed passengers to make e-payments instead of the present arrangement where they must hand over cash (“Hongkongers want e-payment in cabs, even if they have to pay the fees, study finds”, September 30).
 
Being able to pay your fare in this way will be very fast and convenient and the taxi sector should do whatever is needed to allow e-payments to go ahead.
 
Use of Alipay or WeChat to make such payments is possible on the mainland. It is very fast as passengers do not have to count out the money they will hand over and then wait to be given their change. It can be quite tedious, especially with older drivers who take some time to count out the change.
 
I believe that having an e-payment system in cabs in Hong Kong will be helpful to passengers and to drivers as they will be able to accept more fares during their shifts and so will see an increase in their incomes.
 
The taxi sector in the city has come in for a lot of criticism. Making travelling by cabs more convenient might make passengers take a more positive approach. Being able to use e-payments in all areas of commerce, including taxis and shops, will be welcomed by customers.
 
Tony Tsoi Chun-wai, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 03, 2017
Kelly Wong 2B

SCMP October 03, 2017
Lily Lau 2B

SCMP October 01, 2017
Miki Chung 2D

Elderly waste collectors need more support
 
The latest problem with a build-up of waste paper, because of an import ban imposed by the mainland authorities, highlighted the plight of those people, many of them elderly, who collect this kind of refuse on our streets every day.
 
These workers can be seen all over the city, whatever the weather, putting newspapers and cardboard on their trolleys to take to recycling operators for meagre sums. They earn so little, but need it just to get by.
 
They have been hardest hit by the problems with the mainland authorities and a build-up in waste paper has led to a drop in the prices that recycling firms would pay them.
 
This must have made their difficult lives even harder. These people face an uncertain future.
 
As we become more environmentally friendly, we try to save paper and use less of it, and also put cardboard in recycling bins. These elderly citizens will gradually find there is less cardboard to collect and even their tiny incomes will dwindle.
 
There is surely more that the government can do to help these old folk so they do not have to do this job. Pushing a heavy trolley, especially during the summer months, is not fair on an elderly citizen. As a society we must do more for our elderly poor.
 
Miki Chung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP October 01, 2017
John Wu 2D

Better pay can attract young to drive buses
 
The fatal bus accident at Sham Shui Po on September 22 has led to renewed discussions on the working conditions of drivers employed by franchised bus companies in Hong Kong.
 
Unions have called for their maximum hours to be cut from 14 to 12 hours per shift.
 
We need to ask why these employees put in such long hours. It is not that difficult to work out when you look at their average monthly salaries – HK$13,000 to HK$15,000. This is not much to live on and, to ¬increase it to around HK$19,000, they have to do overtime.
 
The Transport Department has guidelines saying drivers should do no more than 14 hours a day. There needs to be legislation stipulating standard hours for bus drivers.
 
The bus firms say there is a labour shortage. If they want to encourage young people to join up, they must start offering higher salaries.
 
John Wu Chun-yan, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 29, 2017
Christy Lam 4B

Cut back on school hours to boost learning
 
It is difficult for children to stay focused in the classroom for extended periods. A six-hour day is long enough for most pupils, from 9am to 3pm. They will be more productive during a shorter school day, because they get enough time to rest.
 
If they come to the classroom refreshed and facing a shorter working day, they will be more likely to absorb knowledge. Youngsters who are tired will be less efficient.
 
Their brains cannot handle having to deal with five or six subjects a day. With fewer lessons there is less stress, which creates a more enjoyable learning environment.
 
Talent can be nurtured if students have more time to rest and to study at home after the school day. They can learn about the benefits of good time management.
 
If they are better organised and under less pressure, they can learn how to become more independent and are likely to get better academic results.
 
Many primary and secondary pupils get less than one hour of free time a day, because of numerous school assignments and extracurricular activities.
 
Having more free time can help them relieve the stress they feel on a daily basis.
 
It is also important that they not spend all their free time on smartphones and -computers, but get outside and exercise.
 
Children, like adults, need the right work-life balance, and a shorter school day will help.
 
Christy Lam, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 28, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

Allow helpers from Vietnam to serve in city
 
I hope the government will heed the calls from the Vietnamese consulate to lift the ban on its citizens working in Hong Kong as domestic helpers.
 
We must face the problems associated with Hong Kong’s ageing population and low birth rate, including a shrinking workforce and higher social costs.
 
Various methods will have to be adopted, including raising the retirement age, and importing suitably qualified workers for sectors where there are shortages. This should include domestic helpers who can look after our elderly citizens.
 
I think many poorer Vietnamese would be happy to work here, as they earn low incomes back home and would get much higher wages in Hong Kong.
 
Also, it is not good for us to depend on only a few countries, mostly Indonesia and the Philippines, for helpers.
 
Rainbow Or, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 28, 2017
John Wu 2D

WhatsApp censors mirror North Korea
 
I do not agree with the decision of the central government to severely disrupt the WhatsApp messaging app on the mainland. This is part of the ongoing censorship of the internet, which stops Chinese citizens from learning more about events within the country and around the world.
 
People are entitled to information about all matters relating to the nation, including the negative aspects. When I look at this crackdown, I compare it to the censorship prevalent in North Korea, China’s ally.
 
John Wu Chun-yan, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 27, 2017
Rainbow Leung 6D

Help students become more competitive
 
I am not surprised that Hong Kong was ranked 14th in a study which assessed how well an education system prepares people aged 15 to 24 for the challenges of the future.
 
Because young people in Hong Kong have to focus so much on exams, they have little spare time. And they have few opportunities to experience the outside world. Lacking these experiences places them at a disadvantage in the job market.
 
They are not helped to acquire practical skills which can assist them in their chosen careers, as parents and teachers just want them to concentrate on getting a place at a university.
 
The government must do more to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) education. This is one way to tap hidden talent among youngsters and help them to develop problem-solving skills.
 
If Hong Kong is to remain competitive, it will need young people who are able to think outside the box.
 
Rainbow Leung Wai-yu, Hang Hau

SCMP September 27, 2017
Sandy Chan 5B

SCMP September 27, 2017
Ada Yeung 3D

SCMP September 26, 2017
Jocelly Tse 5B

Study hours cap would enable students to have more free time
 
I think there is no doubt that academic pressure is the main reason for students in Hong Kong committing suicide.
 
If you want to get a place at one of the local universities you must do well in the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) and so the competition for one of these undergraduate places is fierce. Therefore students set themselves targets and for those who want to become undergraduates doing badly in the DSE is simply not an option. This causes these youngsters a great deal of stress and to make sure they do not fail they have to complete a very heavy workload.
 
I arrive at school at 8am and have lessons from 8.20 until 3.45pm. After school, I need to attend tutorial classes and go back home for dinner. Then I need to finish all my homework and if I have time I will do some revision, and then sleep. I do not have any leisure time and believe that most students in Hong Kong have similar experiences. I can understand why some youngsters have psychological problems.
 
I agree with those who want the government to have a cap with standard study hours. This would ensure that students had at least some leisure time and did not have to focus all their attention on their studies. Hopefully they could rest more and get a good night’s sleep.
 
I do hope the government will give serious consideration to this suggestion. If students are under less pressure then I think the suicide rate will drop.
 
Jocelly Tse, Hang Hau

SCMP September 26, 2017
Michael Ke 5A

It will take time to get rid of all discrimination in Hong Kong
 
Discrimination remains a serious problem in so many societies around the world. Governments in different countries have implemented a number of measures to try and deal with the problem, but so often they fail to achieve their objectives and some forms of discrimination remain firmly in place.
 
Entrenched views in a society are difficult to change, even if legislation is passed. Ignorance can be prevalent and traditional views remain that go back centuries. So in some developing nations, despite laws, women are still treated like second-class citizens and their communities offer no protection against discrimination. For example, in India, traditional beliefs still mean that many women do not enjoy equal treatment.
 
Another form of discrimination in many societies is against people depending on their sexual orientation. Citizens from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are often treated as outsiders and face discrimination in different ways.
 
While I can understand the relevance of legislation, it is important to change attitudes and that will not happen overnight. It will take time to end discrimination. I think the key is education, with young people being taught to accept differences in race and sexuality. With some adults, traditional prejudices are so entrenched that even education is unlikely to change their attitudes. But as young people are taught the importance of opposing discrimination, hopefully they will grow up as tolerant adults.
 
Of course, education alone will not solve everything. Governments will still need to introduce legislation outlawing discrimination of all kinds in the workplace and in society. Hopefully we will see future generations having more enlightened attitudes.
 
Michael Ke, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 26, 2017
Candy Kong 4E

SCMP September 25, 2017
Amy Hung 4A

SCMP September 25, 2017
Suki Lee 5A

SCMP September 23, 2017
Teresa Ng 5B

Teach Hong Kong students about the risks of high sodium levels in food
 
I am writing in response to the article on the efforts to reduce sodium in school meals (“Drive to cut salt in Hong Kong pupil’s lunches by half in a decade”, September 15).
 
Indeed, high amounts of salt in the diet may lead to higher risk of heart disease or high blood pressure later in life, and the voluntary campaign in primary schools should be welcomed. But the health authorities must promote this policy in secondary schools as well.
 
As the next generation, students should have the right to protection of their health. This can be done through supervising the lunchbox suppliers so that they provide healthy meals and ensure the future health of citizens. Again, if suppliers limit the amount of salt in line with the government suggestion, then more schools would be willing to buy lunchboxes from them and so boost their business.
 
Besides, to increase awareness among students about the harmful effects of high sodium intake, technology and living could be made a compulsory subject for senior form students.
 
The information on basic nutrients from this subject will allow pupils to have a better understanding of how excessive salt can affect the body and lead to disease. For example, the food pyramid is a good tool to learn about the most suitable diets and healthy food habits as suggested by doctors.
 
But all of this does not depend on schools alone. Parents, too, have a vital role to play. Parents should be the role model on dietary habits. Children always like to imitate their parents and have maximum interaction with them. So, if parents like eating salty dishes, the eating habits of their children would naturally be the same, which is bad news for all in the long run.
 
For instance, it would be better for a family to avoid salty food items such as instant noodles, even if they are very tasty, as large amounts of sodium may harm the kidney and even cause hypertension.
 
Teresa Ng, Hang Hau

SCMP September 23, 2017
Toto Chung 2D

Time to tackle mountains of waste paper
 
I suggest that the people of Hong Kong, and indeed the world, try to save on the use of paper and so reduce waste.
 
For instance, we can carry small towels for use in public toilets. That way, tissues are not needed and a lot of paper is saved. Also, towels can be used several times, which is more environmentally friendly.
 
I also encourage everyone to use both sides of any sheet of paper, for writing, photocopying and the like, to reduce waste. Using cloth napkins instead of disposable tissues at restaurants would also be helpful.
 
Import restrictions on garbage in mainland China are already hitting local waste paper recyclers. About 80,000 tonnes of waste cardboard, newspaper and office paper are collected in the city each month, almost all of it exported across the border. We should do all we can to prevent the creation of a crisis if this waste cannot be cleared.
 
Toto Chung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 23, 2017
Simon Chung 5A

Recycling in Hong Kong needs a boost
 
Every day, Hong Kong citizens will generate tonnes of waste. Where is all this waste going? Most likely to landfills or even exported to other regions, such as the mainland. But stricter rules in the mainland on solid waste imports mean this cannot be a long-term solution for our problem of excess waste.
 
The local government must give more support to the recycling industry. Hong Kong has several recycling companies that process different kinds of material, but their profits are too low and people are not too keen to invest in this industry. More technological and financial support from the government could act as an encouragement.
 
Meanwhile, officials must do more to regulate and enhance the use of recycling bins. Public awareness on sorting recyclables is still lacking. Also, recycling bins are not as widely available as needed, which means recycling works are still not effective and efficient enough. Some reports even claimed that some of the waste in the recycling bins was transported to landfills but did not go to recyclers because of poor collection mechanisms. So the government should promote and regulate this process.
 
The most efficient solution, however, is to reduce waste at source, and public service messages about this should be promoted more intensively.
 
Simon Chung, Kwun Tong

SCMP September 23, 2017
Anson Ng 5E

Censorship of internet affects critical thought
 
I refer to the article about a man who was sentenced to nine months in jail because he sold virtual private networks to bypass internet censorship in mainland China (“Man jailed for selling VPNs to evade ‘Great Firewall’ ”, September 5).
 
I wish to ask, first of all, is the law that bans VPN apps reasonable? I do not think so. I believe mainland citizens should be able to access information from around the world, to broaden their horizons. Also, rigid censorship may create social instability, as people may think that the government is aiming for thought control and that may create discontent.
 
Secondly, why does the central government apply internet censorship? This issue is very complicated. I think foreign websites, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are blocked so that any sensitive information or inflammatory speech, especially anti-communist opinion, does not spread around the country.
 
Thirdly, compare the degree of freedom of expression in Hong Kong with that in mainland China. In Hong Kong, we are free to access different websites and download apps, which keeps us connected and better informed. A ban on information, I believe, may affect critical thinking. I hope the central government can rethink its stance on internet censorship.
 
Anson Ng, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 22, 2017
Yoyo Tsoi 2D

Waste paper collectors in city need help
 
Cardboard collectors in Hong Kong have struggled as the prices paid by recycling operators for waste paper have dropped.
 
These collectors are really struggling to get by and many of them are elderly and frail, such as an 89-year-old woman you reported on, who has been collecting cardboard in Causeway Bay for years.
 
She lives with her son in a subdivided flat, which costs HK$6,000 a month. It is very difficult for her to make ends meet, especially now with the drop in prices.
 
Surely, the government could and should be doing more to help these elderly citizens so that their lives are not so difficult. It could offer them guaranteed higher prices for waste paper, even if market prices have dropped, because the waste paper is not being accepted at the moment by mainland recycling firms.
 
In fact, all citizens should be aware of their plight and we should be willing to give them a helping hand.
 
Yoyo Tsoi, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 22, 2017
Jason Luk 5A

SCMP September 22, 2017
Chole Hui 4D

SCMP September 21, 2017
Theodore Tam 5E

SCMP September 21, 2017
Carly Fung 5A

SCMP September 21, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP September 20, 2017
Timmy Chan 5B

SCMP September 20, 2017
Hilary Lee 2D

SCMP September 19, 2017
Melody Ho 5E

Brownfield sites key to solving city’s housing woes
 
I refer to your editorial about the hostel which has beds that resemble the city’s notorious cage homes (“Hostel opens eyes to scourge of poverty”, September 5).
 
Although Hong Kong is one of the world’s major financial hubs, it is estimated that about 200,000 of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million citizens live in these cage homes. These are tiny cubicles and the living conditions are appalling.
 
This is a startling statistic and highlights the problem of poverty in our city. It shows that while many Hongkongers are very well off, large numbers of citizens continue live below the poverty line and have no choice but to rent one of these units.
 
Some people may think that this hostel can help travellers appreciate the problems of the needy, but even if it does, that won’t help those people who have to live in a cage home.
 
The only solution to the serious housing problems in Hong Kong is through more effective policies by the government. It must develop more brownfield sites for public housing.
 
Another reason many people cannot afford to leave a cage home is because they have a poor level of education and can only get the lowest-paid job. So the government has to introduce more vocational training courses so that these people can acquire the skills needed to get higher-paid jobs.
 
Melody Ho, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 19, 2017
Kassandra Wong 6E

Exam-oriented education system is not helping students
 
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Hong Kong students committing suicide. They are mostly teenagers and many found they could no longer cope with the stress caused by their studies.
 
Hong Kong is a knowledge-based economy requiring young people who have excelled academically and can join the ranks of the various professions needed to ensure the city remains prosperous. Therefore the focus in the education system is on exams and exam results.
 
Schools organise extension classes and tests and give students a lot of homework assignments in an effort to ensure as many of their students get good results. And you even see this emphasis being placed on test and exam results in primary schools. This often leaves youngsters with insufficient time to relax. They may not even have enough time to communicate with their parents.
 
This exam-oriented approach can actually be counterproductive. It leaves some students disillusioned and they lose the motivation to learn.
 
I think having a daily hours cap, with standard study hours set down, can help reduce students’ workload and the pressure they are under. They can then spend more time relaxing and so recharge their batteries. This means they are more likely to maintain better mental health.
 
It really comes down to trying to strike the right work-life balance. But as I say, this can only happen if changes are made to the education system in Hong Kong.
 
Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Hang Hau

SCMP September 19, 2017
Sinheilia Cheng 5B

Youngsters are under so much pressure at school
 
I refer to the report (“Parents, pupils call for study cap to prevent suicides”, September 11).
 
It is heartbreaking to read about young people taking their own lives. It is difficult to imagine the kind of pressure that led them to make this tragic decision. However, there is no doubt that Hong Kong students have to endure very stressful conditions. They have a busy school day followed by homework in the evening, including, for example, doing assignments and revising for tests. They have to deal with so many different things and have only limited time. It can just get too much and some youngsters are pushed to the edge.
 
Education officials should reflect on what is happening. They should be asking themselves why so many young people are taking their own lives and what can be done to address the problem.
 
If the Education Bureau agreed to a study cap, restricting the number of hours youngsters spend on their studies every day, then I think students could experience a healthier and happier learning environment. Hopefully, we would then see a drop in the suicide rate.
 
Cheng Sin-hei, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 19, 2017
Clovis Wong 6A

Knowledge the most powerful weapon against injustice
 
In the 21st century people in many countries throughout the world continue to suffer from various kinds of violence and injustice.
 
Some of the worst violence has been in Syria where the war still rages after six years. There have been many atrocities including accusations that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have used chemical weapons against civilians. All the civilians in that country want is a stable life free of war.
 
In all these wars in different continents it is always the innocent civilians who are the victims. As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzi says, poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by men and women globally.
 
Even where there is no war, children still suffer. In many countries, including India, among some poverty-stricken sections of the population there is still child labour. These children get no education and are often mistreated in the workplace. Also, in some countries, child marriage remains a problem and again these young people are deprived of a proper education and a decent life. So many young women throughout the world are deprived of even a basic education. They have no voice and the indifference of others ensures that nothing changes.
 
The most powerful weapon which can be used to make fundamental changes and improve the lot of these young people is knowledge. The only way underprivileged children can escape the cycle of poverty is through education. If they are given even basic schooling, they can be armed with knowledge which can give them a chance in life. A well-educated population is more likely to take stand against tyranny.
 
I do hope that as global citizens we can all strive towards a more peaceful world.
 
Clovis Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 19, 2017
Sandy Chan 6E

SCMP September 19, 2017
Chole Wong 5B

SCMP September 19, 2017
Christy Lam 3D

SCMP September 19, 2017
Benson Wong 5A

SCMP September 18, 2017
James Wong 5E

SCMP September 18, 2017
Desmond Chan 5E

SCMP September 18, 2017
Candy Kong 4E

SCMP September 16, 2017
Felix Leung 6E

Self-control is a life skill pupils need to learn
 
I refer to the letter from Jenny Sit (“Self-control on smartphones vital for teens”, September 7).
 
It is undeniable that teenagers need to cut down their use of smartphones, but neither should they become too reliant on apps to regulate their lives.
 
Ms Sit mentioned an app called SelfControl which blocks certain websites or apps for a set amount of time. I don’t think this is an effective solution, as it takes away the need for them to be responsible for their actions.
 
Students cannot deny that they are prisoners of their smartphones. When they are obsessed about how many likes they get on Facebook, they will keep checking the post at regular intervals. Installing an app like SelfControl only limits the use of a certain app for a time, but there are plenty of other things that can keep them glued to their phones, such as TV shows.
 
The root of the problem isn’t eliminated, so how can students concentrate better on studies? For this, they should learn not only self-discipline but also time management.
 
Even if there is an app to stop them from connecting to social media for a time, what is to stop them uninstalling the app if they lose their patience, or install -other games and keep playing.
 
Rather than rely on apps to do it for them, students should learn self-control. It is a life skill that will stay with them and help them to ¬manage their time effectively, even in their careers.
 
I think students should see this as an opportunity to train themselves. It is vital to learn not only bookish knowledge but also life skills like this.
 
Felix Leung, Po Lam

SCMP September 16, 2017
Kathy Ho 6E

School is not the only cause of teen stress
 
I am sceptical about a new initiative for students (“Parents, pupils call for study cap to prevent suicides”, September 11).
 
Some students and their parents want “standard study hours” to be set, at “seven hours or fewer” per day, in order to ease stress among youngsters. I do not believe this will work.
 
A few years back, parents started to think it was best for their children to learn to compete from the start, and they wanted schools to give more homework and tests so they had enough lesson practice. Now they have started complaining about what they themselves ¬recommended earlier.
 
What is more, even if their children have enough or extra time to rest or play, the parents will get them to join hobby classes, according to their “interests”. Beside studies, this is also where child stress comes from.
 
The solution is not asking schools to give less homework or setting “standard study hours”. It is parents who have to change the mindset that their child must always be a winner.
 
Kathy Ho Kai-Fai, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 16, 2017
Hebe Ng 6E

Libraries show lack of vision on old books
 
I refer to the report on Hong Kong’s public libraries (“Hundreds of thousands of books thrown away as libraries slammed for wasteful practice”, September 12). The article said the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), which runs the public libraries, had an annual procurement target of “at least 700,000” items and was throwing away books in perfectly readable condition.
 
Indeed, updating the book lists every year is a necessary act for libraries. Knowledge in this information age is ever changing. Being a knowledge-based city, we should move forward in tune with time and technology.
 
As the number of books keeps increasing but the space for them remains the same, libraries discard some to make room. However, is this the only way to deal with the problem?
 
Hong Kong still has many poor families who can’t afford books. Rather than treat the books as waste paper, libraries could donate to charity organisations or less-well-off families. This will benefit them, as well as promote reading.
 
Moreover, with online reading being more popular among the new generation, they are borrowing fewer books from the library. So the LCSD may reconsider its procurement target, and put the money to better use.
 
Hebe Ng Yik-huen, Po Lam

SCMP September 16, 2017
Carol Mo 6E

Tough living conditions are behind exodus
 
I refer to the report on more Hong Kong people emigrating (“Surge in numbers quitting Hong Kong for new life in Canada”, September 11).
 
There may be various major reasons behind this exodus, one of them being the unsatisfactory living conditions. High property prices and cost of living have long been a heavy burden for many local residents. Pollution and a densely packed urban environment make it less than an ideal place to live.
 
The political situation in the city may also be motivating some to leave. Social conflicts taking place in recent years have worsened interactions between political factions in the city, and some Hongkongers may feel there is little hope of any improvement in the near future.
 
Therefore, the government must not only focus on improving overall living conditions, but also strive to restore public trust in the city and its future.
 
The work of restoring trust is one that cannot be neglected. Otherwise, the disappointment of citizens will just deepen, causing more of them to leave.
 
The current situation will probably take a long time to improve, and cannot be done without cooperation and compromise on all sides. This city is home to us all and it should be safeguarded by everyone here.
 
Carol Mo Ka-wai, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 15, 2017
Michelle Mai 5B

Sensible use of air cons yet to be seen in city
 
Last month, a scientist warned that due to the effects of climate change in southern Europe, the usage rate of air conditioners would soar. This, of course, exacerbates pollution and adds to global warming.
 
I think this also applies to Hong Kong, with its intensive use of air conditioners during the hot summer months. Most people just automatically switch on the air con when they get up, without thinking of the environmental consequences.
 
When I visit relatives and friends around town, I find they all have the air con switched on during the summer. But I have noticed that sometimes there is no need to do so, because there is a good breeze blowing in from outside and a fan is all that is really needed.
 
A friend told me she just could not live without the air con during summer.
 
Some teachers do try to explain the need to protect the environment, including limiting the use of air cons, but the message does not seem to be getting through to everyone.
 
Michelle Mai, Sau Mau Ping

SCMP September 15, 2017
Andy Yeung 5E

Beijing was wrong to shut down VPNs
 
I am concerned about the ongoing virtual private network (VPN) crackdown on the mainland.
 
This is an extension of the tight censorship which existed before this crackdown, with sites such as Facebook and Twitter already banned.
 
The debate on whether such censorship should exist is controversial, with supporters saying the authorities must have the power to limit the spread of sensitive information. They also argue that it is important to keep out violent and obscene material to protect young people. But what is also kept off the net, is criticism of the government.
 
Another reason the central government is tightening its grip, is that it only wants a positive image of the country to be presented to the outside world.
 
It wants China to be seen as a nation which is making huge strides in terms of development.
 
Social networking sites allow people to share news and views. They help people acquire more knowledge and encourage creative thought. Netizens in China now have fewer opportunities to visit these sites.
 
It does not help to just present the good news, the bright side of China. This harms rational and reasoned discussion, which should also look at the many problems the country is facing. Being able to see the good and bad helps citizens have a more objective view of society. For the sake of China’s future, different voices should be heard.
 
As a Hong Kong citizen, I am glad we enjoy a greater degree of freedom of speech. If China repealed its tight censorship regulations, there would be a greater sense of trust between citizens and the government. Obscene and -violent material can still be banned, but not social networking sites.
 
Andy Yeung, Tiu Keng Leng

Young Post September 15, 2017
Rainbow Or 4E

SCMP September 15, 2017
Louis Fung 5B

SCMP September 15, 2017
Walter Chong 5B

SCMP September 15, 2017
Oscar Au Yeung 5B

SCMP September 14, 2017
Donald Chan 6E

SCMP September 14, 2017
Nicole Ho 6D

SCMP September 13, 2017
Cherry Yeung 6A

SCMP September 13, 2017
Eric Chan 5C

SCMP September 12, 2017
Leo Yuen 5E

Uber can force taxi operators to raise their standards
 
I agree with Michelle J. Tao on the benefits to the city of having Uber (“How Uber can spur improvements in Hong Kong’s taxi service”, August 31).
 
I am sure most readers agree that everyone has been poorly served by our taxi service. When taxi drivers are all about to change shifts or eating, they will refuse a fare, even though it is illegal to do so. There have also been cases of them trying to rip off passengers. So I think that the car-hailing app Uber can make a difference.
 
Taxi operators complain about Uber’s presence in the city saying it has hurt their profits. They should not blame Uber for this. Their profits have been hit because they are providing a poor service. Now that they face real competition they go to the government to complain and ask it to intervene.
 
The government gives reasons for why it cannot legalise Uber, but I do not accept its arguments. There are so many cities and countries where Uber has been made legal and has proved to be very popular with residents. Uber is happy to get involved in discussions with governments and reach an agreement.
 
We need competition in Hong Kong so that we can see an improvement in the local taxi industry.
 
Leo Yuen Chun-yu, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP September 12, 2017
Daniel Hui 5A

Sleepless nights can cause mental health problems
 
It is important to get enough sleep, but I think some students and adults are experiencing more sleepless nights.
 
Busy people who cut back on the amount of sleep they get might think it is a waste of time, but they are mistaken. It is important for health reasons to get enough sleep. At night we are tired and so sleep helps to restore the energy we need for the working day.
 
Students who are not getting enough sleep will find that their studies suffer. And adults will also be less productive. If they are tired at work they may take very short naps and this could lead to accidents if, for example, they are controlling machinery. Deprived of sleep their memory is not as sharp and they may have poor judgment.
 
Lack of sleep can also cause mental problems, such as stress. Therefore, people need to appreciate the importance of sleep and the benefits it brings and make sure they get a good night’s rest.
 
Daniel Hui, Hang Hau

SCMP September 12, 2017
Kristie Ko 6A

VPN crackdown on mainland is bad for business
 
I refer to the report (“Business and academics at risk of losing out as China tightens online censorship”, September 10). I do not use a virtual private network (VPN), but I oppose the decision of the Chinese government to ban the setting up and usage of VPNs as this shows it is tightening up on online censorship.
 
In this way it is stopping its citizens reaching sites from outside the country. A lot of my friends from the mainland use Facebook and Instagram through VPNs and share aspects of their daily lives. It is also a way for them to keep in touch with friends they met overseas. According to the article, 14 per cent of internet users on the mainland use VPN daily. Once they are blocked, millions of these users will be affected. And it will also hurt businesses. Tightening censorship in this way will be disappointing for a lot of overseas companies.
 
Many of them, especially small firms, rely on social media sites, like Facebook, to promote their products and services and communicate with customers. If they find it difficult to continue to do business on the mainland this could hurt China’s economy.
 
The central government might come to regret this decision.
 
Kristie Ko, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 12, 2017
Tom Poon 5D

Fathers in Hong Kong deserve a better paternity leave deal
 
I agree with correspondents who have argued that working mothers need more help to find the right work-life balance. Poor workplace flexibility and benefits are the major factors stopping workers from finding that balance.
 
Ironically, they are also the reasons behind Hong Kong’s economic success story. So many workers in Hong Kong, women and men, have devoted much of their time and energy to their jobs, in order to get a better life for their families. Some would argue that if they get that balance they will work fewer hours and this could impact on the city’s prosperity.
 
What we have to try to do citywide is find the right mix that enables citizens and the city to benefit. This has worked in other developed societies such as Australia, where there is far greater flexibility in the workplace than you find here.
 
One area in particular where we are falling short is paternity leave. The government has legislated to allow the father three days off. The purpose of such leave is to allow him to help the mother take care of the newborn baby, but that is hardly enough time. His wife will be exhausted and possibly stressed and she needs as much help as possible. Three days is not enough time off for a new father.
 
I believe the law needs to be amended so that paternity leave is extended to one month. This enables the father to bond with his child. If he is really essential to the running of the company that employs him then it should arrange ways for him to work from home. That way he can help his firm and his wife.
 
What is important is to find a compromise, so that society benefits from a productive citizen and the new family benefits from a father who is there for his wife and child.
 
Tom Poon, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 12, 2017
Zoe Chung 5A

SCMP September 12, 2017
Sammi Lee 2B

SCMP September 11, 2017
Icy Po 2A

SCMP September 11, 2017
Alice Ma 5E

SCMP September 11, 2017
Jacky Leung 5E

SCMP September 10, 2017
Carina Cheung 2C

Joint terminus will make for smooth travel
 
I look forward to the opening of the West Kowloon terminus for the express rail link. Passengers will then be able to undergo border clearance procedures for both Hong Kong and the mainland under the same roof, before boarding trains to all cities on the national high-speed railway network.
 
Mainland law will apply to certain designated areas of the joint terminus, in a system similar to the US and Canada or the UK and France on the Eurostar.
 
As a Hong Kong citizen,I feel this project will bring great convenience and also save a lot of time. For instance, getting to Guangzhou will take just 50 minutes, instead of more than two hours as it does now.
 
Carina Cheung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 10, 2017
Divine Hui 4A

East Lantau plans: a waste of tax money?
 
I refer to Tom Yam’s article on the debate over the proposed East Lantau town (“Opposition to ¬creating a metropolis in Lantau must be heard”, August 1).
 
Mr Yam calls public consultations “costly road shows” that “are increasingly seen by the people as pro forma exercises”. He also says Hongkongers, “whose taxes pay for public ¬consultations, ¬deserve more transparency”.
 
The demand for housing in Hong Kong is really huge. However, mountainous terrain makes building difficult on a large part of its area. We all know and understand why the government needs to develop the Islands and New Territories. But are these the only methods to create land for building?
 
A lot of land in the city is owned by some developer or company. It would help if the government could buy back this land. When land is bought by companies at a high price, flats built there also become too -expensive for most people.
 
As for Lantau, transport links with the city centre are not as smooth yet, while management fees at estates are high. So how many people would be able to afford houses on the proposed East Lantau Metropolis in 2030? Is it really worth spending our tax money on this?
 
Hui Ching, Po Lam

SCMP September 10, 2017
Jackie Lo 5D

Environment is top priority for Hong Kong
 
I refer to your article highlighting pollution in Hong Kong (“Soaring heat,choking pollution”, August 31). Climate change has become an issue of grave concern these past few years.
 
Hong Kong recorded the highest temperatures ever this summer, which implies that global warming is getting worse and hitting close to home.
 
Changes in climate are caused not just by weather-related factors but by human activities as well. Coal-fired power plants and other factories in China produce smoke that is discharged into the atmosphere every day. When this polluted air blows into Hong Kong, the city suffers from smog and lower visibility. Fumes from fossil-fuel vehicles add to the toxic mix.
 
The Hong Kong government should educate the public about this issue. The chief executive should pay more attention to the issue of environmental protection and ensuring clean air. It is also our responsibility as citizens to come together and find a possible solution.
 
Jackie Lo, Po Lam

SCMP September 10, 2017
James Wong 5E

Creative artists yet to receive all-out support
 
I refer to your article on creative artists in the city (“Meet the young designers leading growth in Hong Kong’s creative industries despite challenges”, August 19), especially this line: “It remains doubtful whether Hong Kong’s highly bureaucratic government has the means to push forward creative industries.”
 
The issue is that there aren’t many measures that actually promote the creative industry.
 
The Design Incubation Programme, run by the non-profit Hong Kong Design Centre, supported just 170 start-ups in the 10 years to 2015; the government’s CreateSmart Initiative ignored most small-scale designers and artists in favour of more lucrative projects in architecture or development. The difference could not be more stark when compared to the creative industries of most other economies.
 
Unesco’s 2010 Creative Economy Report said that, adequately nurtured, creativity fuels culture, infuses human-centred development and constitutes the key ingredient for creation, innovation and trade. In the US, creative industries added US$698 billion to the economy and also 4.7 million jobs in 2015.
 
It is clear that the Hong Kong government should do more to support small-scale designers and artists.
 
James Wong, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 09, 2017
Leo Ho 5C

Policies must improve life for working mums
 
I agree with correspondents who say that working mothers in Hong Kong need a lot more help to find the right work-life balance.
 
Many employees in the city work long hours, and so getting that balance is very difficult.
 
Most women only get 10 weeks of maternity leave, compared with the International Labour Organisation’s recommendation of at least 14 weeks.
 
Also, a lot of workplaces lack childcare services and nursing-friendly facilities for mothers.
 
When these problems exist and there is a lack of flexibility, workers feel more stressed.
 
In developed countries such as Australia, female employees can claim up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, so clearly there is plenty of room for improvement in Hong Kong.
 
The government should consider stipulating longer maternity leave and ensuring that there are more breastfeeding facilities in workplaces, as well as shopping malls throughout the city.
 
It surely has a duty to introduce policies which will improve the lives of mothers in the workplace and give them a better chance to achieve a good work-life balance.
 
Leo Ho, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 09, 2017
Peter Tam 5A

Citizens need to pitch in for greener living
 
I agree with Yvonne Lui about the need to act on the city’s environmental problems (“Soaring heat, choking pollution: Hong Kong’s citizen and leaders cannot ignore climate change”, August 31).
 
As Lui points out, it was reported in March that Central district had recorded “an air quality index of 190 – several times worse than in Beijing”.
 
Bear in mind that the capital is notorious throughout the country for its really high air pollution levels.
 
As chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should be trying to raise levels of awareness, so that Hongkongers are willing to help tackle the environmental challenges that the city faces.
 
We all need to make the necessary lifestyle changes, such as using public transport instead of private cars and always bringing our own reusable bags to supermarkets when we go shopping.
 
Hong Kong regarded as an international finance centre and ¬popular tourist destination.
 
If we don’t improve air quality, we will soon start losing investors and visitors. As I say, we can’t just rely on our leaders; we all need to pitch in to make a difference.
 
At home, we should recycle as much waste as possible and cut back on our use of air conditioners. It is often just as comfortable with a fan, and this simple step allows us to make substantial energy savings.
 
Less energy use means that power stations would be burning less fossil fuel to produce it.
 
I hope that eventually all Hongkongers will see it as their responsibility to do their bit to save the planet.
 
This is our city and we must all work together to make the necessary improvements to clean it up.
 
Peter Tam, Po Lam

SCMP September 08, 2017
Amy Hung 4A

SCMP September 08, 2017
Cam Cheung 5D

SCMP September 07, 2017
Billy Sit 5A

SCMP September 07, 2017
Jenny Sit 6A

SCMP September 06, 2017
Cherry Chan 2C

SCMP September 06, 2017
Kenneth Cheung 5B

SCMP September 06, 2017
Donald Wong 5A

SCMP September 05, 2017
Kevin Wong 4E

SCMP September 05, 2017
Cindy Wong 5A

Always take sensible precautions when storms hit
 
The damage that was brought to Hong Kong and Macau last month by two typhoons was in some cases shocking.
 
I hope these storms have raised levels of awareness and made us realise that when signals are hoisted by the Observatory we must heed the advice and take the necessary precautions. Our priority should be ensuring our own safety and ensure we are protecting ourselves and our families.
 
Firstly, we must make sure all windows are closed securely in our flat, because they could be damaged by strong winds if they are left open. If a window is damaged residents could be injured by broken glass. As the storm strengthens we must all, where possible, stay indoors.
 
Also, I do not think it is responsible to, for example, call for a food delivery. The person making the delivery could be injured on the road, especially if it is a high typhoon signal with strong winds. You should not expect others to risk injury unless it is an emergency.
 
The number of people sustaining injuries or death can be reduced if we all try to act responsibly.
 
Cindy Wong, Po Lam

SCMP September 05, 2017
Michael Ke 5A

Twin typhoons are a wake-up call on climate change
 
Recently, two strong typhoons hit Hong Kong. The storms brought tremendous damage to villagers living in coastal areas, such as Tai O. The tsunami-like waves destroyed homes during Severe Typhoon Hato on August 23.
 
The process of cleaning up the mess is always long and arduous. So the government can review flood-prevention measures, and also the post-typhoon clean-up operation.
 
People had trouble crossing streets in inundated villages, and there was trash everywhere. Thankfully, there were big-hearted volunteers helping to clean up the mess. But the settlement of the villagers is still a big concern due to some homes being damaged.The government provided places for the affected villagers to sleep, as their homes were destroyed and they had no place to rest.
 
However, it will never be enough for just the government to help. Ordinary citizens must also pitch in, maybe by cleaning up the trash as a volunteer, or even spread the message among friends and family that people need help.
 
This issue is also related to climate change, which is causing more extreme weather, and stronger storms around the world. It may sound tiresome, but it is important to repeatedly promote the importance of a green lifestyle, because people don’t seem to have yet understood how serious the problem is. This is not just for us, but also for the future generations.
 
Natural hazards are taking place more frequently. If we don’t make a change, imagine how hard life will be for our future generations.
 
Everyone in this world has the responsibility to make this planet better, a small change from everyone will make a big difference to the world.
 
Michael Ke, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 05, 2017
Winny Lai 3D

City should learn family values from Sweden
 
I am writing in response to Katrina Lo’s letter (“Hong Kong working mothers need more help to find right work-life balance”, August 12).
 
Lo says that mothers in Hong Kong are challenged by the long working hours and lack of workplace flexibility. It leads to a social phenomenon where some office ladies who are married are worried about having a baby. Short maternity leave and difficulties in breastfeeding are the main problems.
 
Hong Kong allows only 10 weeks of maternity leave. New mothers may lack the time to take care of their newborn if they have to be back at working within such a short time. Also, new mothers suffer a lot of pressure if they have a heavy workload in the office and have to take care of a baby at home. They have little time to rest, so some of them may be prone to depression.
 
Some countries, such as Australia and Sweden, which also have a high female working population like Hong Kong, have more family friendly measures in place. Sweden has been called the country with the best maternity leave policy. Couples in Sweden enjoy 16 months of maternity leave with a salary, and there are lots of allowances for the family.
 
The Hong Kong government should learn from other advanced regions and extend the maternity leave. Besides, they can provide free family counselling services, to help new mothers maintain a good work-life balance.
 
Winny Lai Man-ting, Kwun Tong

SCMP September 05, 2017
Jackie Lo 5D

Hong Kong graduates can travel far on ‘belt and road’
 
I refer to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and benefits it may bring to Hong Kong graduates.
 
There is no doubt that this Beijing-led scheme bring us advantages on account of closer connection with Asian countries. It makes travel to and doing business with other Asian economies easier and more convenient. This gives Hong Kong graduates another option on choosing which university to go to or where to start their career.
 
Once I graduate from high school, I can enjoy the freedom of choosing my study path overseas or continuing my study in local universities.
 
Jackie Lo, Po Lam

SCMP September 05, 2017
Cathleen Shek 5D

Recycling message is still not getting through to a lot of people
 
I am writing in response to the article on recycling (“Hong Kong is misusing its public recycling bins, green group says”, August 31).
 
It is very discouraging to find out that just 40 per cent of the items in a four-in-one recycling bin are actually recyclable. As a person who adopts the habit of sorting recycling materials, this news really annoyed me. The article said 16 per cent of the items in the bins were just garbage. I believe not all of these items were mistakenly disposed of in the recycling bin. Some ill-mannered citizens or tourists evidently neglected the significance of sorting recyclables from rubbish.
 
Their selfish acts led to the contamination of other possibly recyclable items, sending every item in the bin to the landfill. Their irresponsible thinking just killed the thoughtfulness of the others.
 
Even when the municipal waste-charging policy takes effect, such incidents will still continue, unless thorough public education is undertaken.
 
Granted, practising a new habit is hard, not to mention implanting an environmentally-friendly mindset. The government, as the biggest authority of Hong Kong, should sound frequent warnings about how urgent the waste problem is. When citizen are well-informed about the waste crisis, I will become more concerned about recycling, and so show more civic sense when disposing of waste.
 
Cathleen Shek, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 04, 2017
Walter Chong 5B

SCMP September 04, 2017
Jason Luk 5A

SCMP September 04, 2017
Alvin Poon 2B

SCMP September 03, 2017
Jacky Sit 3B

Virtual reality is changing today’s world
 
I refer to the report on virtual reality gaming (“Virtual reality game to study Alzheimer’s could help ward off the disease”, August 29).
 
Technology in the present day is evolving very fast, and now we are in the age of virtual reality (VR) gaming, where people can experience this amazing realistic technology in the comfort of their homes. Not only that, games such as the newly launched Sea Quest Hero are important tools for medical research and treatment.
 
VR technology is also used in military training, where VR training courses or battlefield simulators help to hone the combat capability of soldiers at much lower costs. Then there are flight simulators for pilots to practise their emergency handling capacity. This is how VR is transforming our world.
 
Jacky Sit, Tiu Keng Leng

SCMP September 03, 2017
Sara Wong 5A

Exams turning our children into robots
 
I refer to the article on schoolchildren being prone to depression and anxiety (“More than half of Hong Kong secondary school pupils show symptoms of depression”, August 29).
 
The exam-oriented framework is an emblem of our education system. -Students are left stressed out and depressed, as they attend countless tutorial classes in the hope of getting the Holy Grail of 5** in the Diploma of Secondary Education.
 
Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service surveyed 15,560 students in Form One to Six at 37 schools across Hong Kong, and found that 53 per cent displayed symptoms of depression. This was 2 per cent higher than the previous year, showing that students are becoming more frustrated about their ¬academic prospects.
 
Students ¬become like robots as they learn by rote, which kills the enthusiasm for learning. Children do not ask questions and are not curious about different phenomena, trained as they are only to memorise answers.
 
The Education Bureau in Hong Kong must therefore rethink the city’s exam-oriented system, for the sake of the future of the younger generation.
 
Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 03, 2017
Zoe Chung 5A

Conditions in Hong Kong forcing exodus
 
I am writing in response to the article on more Hong Kong people wanting to move overseas (“Hongkongers’ desire to emigrate higher than global average”, August 21).
 
Human resources company Randstad recently surveyed 13,200 people from 33 places, including about 400 from Hong Kong. The poll showed that 56 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong would be willing to leave the city for a job they desire.
 
I believe the poll reflects the current reality in Hong Kong. In recent years , the political environment has become unstable. Young citizens are concerned about Hong Kong’s future and have participated in activism, which has seen some radicals hurt and even sent to jail,
 
No parent wants their children to face troubles like this. Therefore, many would prefer to emigrate in search of a more stable environment overall.
 
Moreover, work conditions are much better in some other countries. Take our doctors or medical staff, left exhausted and stressed with their workload amid staff shortages. They wish to emigrate for a more comfortable working environment and more flexible hours.
 
High property prices are another factor fuelling the exodus, not only for workers but companies as well.
 
The problem of talent outflow must be tackled by the government, as this will affect the development of the city.
 
Zoe Chung Ka-man, Po Lam

SCMP September 03, 2017
Alice Ma 5E

No excuse for discrimination on age grounds
 
In Hong Kong, age discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem. Although the government has legislated against such discrimination, ageism is a fact of life in the city.
 
According to a survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission, more than one in three employees faced some form of age discrimination in the workplace, including lower pay and denial of advancement opportunities. About one in four workers said they could not get promotions due to their age.
 
This is a distressing trend. According to government projections, about one-third of the population in Hong Kong will be aged 65 or above in 2041.
 
As the population ages, if employers continue to discriminate against older workers, the city will face problems like manpower shortage and a shrinking labour force.
 
Some people have highlighted the problem of sexual discrimination in Hong Kong workplaces. I think age discrimination is even more pervasive.
 
Alice Ma, Hang Hau

SCMP September 02, 2017
Oscar Au Yeung 5B

Taxi driver boosts gender equality hopes
 
I think it is really brave when women break into a line of work that has long been dominated by men (“Hong Kong women taxi drivers on why they love the job and how they deal with sexist colleagues and passengers”, August 28).
 
It is not easy for these women, as they can face discrimination from some male colleagues, as well as insulting comments from passengers who still hold prejudiced views.
 
I was particularly impressed by 72-year-old Anna Tam Choi-har, who has been behind the wheel of a Kowloon red taxi for 45 years, longer than many of her male counterparts.
 
Despite the difficulties she faced, she has persevered for decades.
 
The experience of these women emphasises the importance of having gender equality in the workplace. The government talks about the importance of achieving such equality, but it is still not a reality.
 
The gender of a candidate for a job should not be a concern for employers. They should only concentrate on the qualities of each applicant.
 
Sexual stereotypes are still prevalent. However, it is good to see attitudes are changing and many people are becoming more tolerant. I hope we will eventually see genuine gender equality in society.
 
Oscar Au Yeung, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 02, 2017
John Hung 4B

South Korea’s missile defence system is vital
 
US President Donald Trump, in responding to North Korea’s firing of a missile over Japan, tweeted that talking to the regime was not the answer.
 
Pyongyang’s actions will worsen its relations with other countries, including its main ally – China. Many people fear that, by his actions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could undermine efforts to find a peaceful solution, as he forges ahead with the country’s ¬nuclear weapons programme.
 
However, despite the tough response from Trump, it should be remembered that the president of South Korea has cautioned against any form of military action against its northern neighbour. The government in Seoul is fully aware of the consequences of any action by the US. South Korea would face a devastating counter-attack from North Korea.
 
What is happening highlights the importance of the missile defence system that the US has installed in South Korea – called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD).
 
It has met with a lot of opposition, from Beijing and from some South Koreans who complain about environmental issues and the cost. But, I think South Korea does need to provide more security to its people, and I hope THAAD will be fully operational soon.
 
John Hung, Po Lam

SCMP September 02, 2017
Anson Chan 5A

Strong attack on observatory was off-target
 
The Macau observatory came in for a lot of criticism over raising high typhoon signals too late in the day, as Typhoon Hato approached last month.
 
However, the former head of Hong Kong Observatory, Lam Chiu-ying disagrees (“Don’t blame Observatory warning signals for Macau’s Typhoon Hato mess, former top Hong Kong weather official says”, -August 27). I think he has a point.
 
While Macau’s electricity supply was disrupted and low-lying areas were flooded, what was clear was that the government’s contingency plans (such as ensuring there was enough fresh drinking water) to deal with these problems were inadequate. That was the real problem in the storm’s aftermath.
 
Transportation also came to a standstill, and the government was slow to get the post-storm clean-up operations underway throughout the city.
 
These problems would have existed no matter when higher typhoon signals were raised. And, as Mr Lam pointed out, issuing the typhoon signal later than Hong Kong could be justified, because the storm hit Macau at a later time.
 
Hopefully, the government of Macau has learned important lessons and there will be better urban planning and improved infrastructure, especially to help residents in low-lying areas.
 
I also hope that future contingency plans will have been put in place so that, should a major storm hit the city again, fewer residents have to suffer from its effects.
 
Anson Chan, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 01, 2017
Candy Tsang 4D

Age of peace? Not if you are Kim Jong-un
 
The North Korean missile which flew over northern Japan did not threaten the country, but it did cause some confusion.
 
One citizen in Hokkaido who was interviewed on a TV news report said people were being advised to take shelter, but she did not know where she should go, and whether she should evacuate her home.
 
Another citizen interviewed hoped the US would not react too strongly, because this could exacerbate tensions.
 
People have often described this era as “the age of peace”, but when you see what is happening on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere in the world, you know that is not really an accurate description.
 
I wish the political and ¬military leaders involved in these conflicts would realise the cost to countries involved in them, in terms of economics and loss of life.
 
We should learn lessons from the past and realise that, when a war starts, citizens in those conflict zones lose friends and family members.
 
Tsang Ka-yee, Tseung Kwan O

SCMP September 01, 2017
Adrian Wong 3C

Playing with fire could cost North Korea
 
Following its firing of a missile over Japan’s airspace, North Korea defended its actions, with leader Kim Jong-un saying the missile was a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam.
 
What Pyongyang is doing is very dangerous. What if there was human error and one of its missiles hit a civilian airliner? Such a disaster would lead to a serious reaction from countries like the US, and even China.
 
Misunderstandings like this can lead to an escalation of the crisis. I hope Kim faces reality and realises that he has to stop these missile tests.
 
The aim of Kim’s government and the international community should be to seek a peaceful solution.
 
Adrian Wong, Po Lam

SCMP September 01, 2017
Jason Wong 5D

Mothers in the workplace left with tough job
 
I agree with Katrina Lo that achieving a work-life balance proves difficult for many working mothers in our city (“Hong Kong working mothers need more help to find right work-life balance”, August 12).
 
She referred to a survey which showed that over 60 per cent of the respondents felt frustrated while trying to balance family and work.
 
Having enough leave and flexibility in the office are key factors in helping working mothers get the right work-life balance. Many employees here work an average of 50 hours a week, which must be among the longest in the world. This leaves people, especially mothers, with little time to spend with their families.
 
Compare this to developed nations like Australia. In the same survey, fewer than half of Australian working mothers complained about lack of flexibility or inadequate leave.
 
The maternity and paternity leave allowed in Hong Kong is inadequate (10 weeks and three days, respectively). The government has to allocate more ¬resources to help working mothers. It must also ensure -offices are mother-friendly, especially for those who are nursing.
 
The right work-life balance would also make these employees more productive.
 
Jason Wong Kun-tong, Tseung Kwan O