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February 2012

Servile submission..blatant chauvinism…rampant disparagements…fruitful diversity

Why does the South China Morning keep printing these absurd letters?

In defence of local school system

I read your report ("Plea to improve public schools", February 14) with misgivings, appalled by the city's self-styled democrats' servile submission to expatriates' blatant chauvinism in the education debate.

Off to a a strong start there, with attacks on the democrats and expats in the first sentence, though purists might argue that readability has been sacrificed by cramming so much prejudice in to such a small space. 

Indisputably, international schools are gaining popularity among local parents. But popularity often reflects superficiality and measures neither quality nor depth.

Well that would be a telling point - if we were talking about X Factor.  Not sure that it’s quite so valid when local parents are spending their own hard-earned money on fees for international schools.  But wait, there’s more.

International schools are less demanding than local schools, with simpler syllabuses and easier examination grading standards. They seldom participate in inter-school sports competitions and music festivals where local schools dominate. Local schools' high average standard is evidenced by the very top positions which local students consistently achieve in various international scholastic surveys.

Wouldn’t you expect local schools to dominate in music festivals, what with there being so many more of them?    And, yes, we know that Hong Kong examination results are outstanding in several subjects, but international schools also achieve very good results, and they provide a more well-rounded education.      

Against rampant disparagements against local schools, which in effect are veiled criticisms of local teachers' incompetence, Cheung Man-kwong, a local teacher who represents the teaching profession in the legislature, has neither defended the local system nor proposed ways to improve it.

Another long and convoluted sentence, and I’m not sure that dissatisfaction with local schools implies criticism of teachers - surely it is more the system that is under attack.

He [Cheung Man-kwong] has been a staunch proponent of segregation. His demand to restrict local enrolment in international schools serves to grab political capital by appeasing both foreigners who abhor local competition for international education and those local teachers who fear job security if local students opt for international schools.

What if, contrary to objective measures, international schools were somehow "superior" to local schools? Shouldn't local students have equal access to the "better" education of international schools which have benefited from land grants, the city's most precious resource?

I’m getting confused here.  Are local schools better than international schools or not?  Anyway, it’s irrelevant whether land is used for international schools or government schools, because it has the same impact on the supply of land.  And let’s not forget that if there were no international schools it would cost the government a lot more money to provide education for all those students.  The ESF subvention is currently less than half of the payment to DSS schools (which is supposed to match what it costs the government to provide a school place), and other international schools get nothing.  

Kashimura Fujio of Hong Kong Japanese School observes that, unlike Hong Kong's expatriates, many expatriates in Tokyo send their children to local schools. Why? Japanese schools can't be more "international" than Hong Kong's local schools in teaching medium and curricula. However, as the Japanese respect their local schools, expatriates in Japan properly learn to respect the education standard of the country which offers them employment opportunities.

I think we are getting to the real point.  Foreigners shouldn’t be so difficult - if Hong Kong schools are good enough for locals they should be good enough for foreigners.  If only locals would be more patriotic and ‘respect’ local schools, all would be well.

The local education system is not impeccable. But we may never improve our schools if our political leaders lack the moral courage to overcome the inferiority complex of their colonial mentality.

Of course,  that must be the explanation: Hong Kong has a huge inferiority complex.

It's time we recognised local students' achievements and publicised local education's high standard.

We must outgrow the colonial practice of double standards in education and cease subsidising international schools, which skirt the local curricula and fail to prepare students for local exams. Fruitful diversity with a fair standard for equal application to all stakeholders should be distinguished from discriminatory segregation based on privileges and prejudice.

Pierce Lam, Central

Ah, yes, fruitful diversity.  One of my favourites.


Scottish independence? Impossible.

Two weeks ago, the SCMP published this ridiculous letter:

Voting rights don't include secession

Virginia Yue ('We should respect voters' choice,' January 30), in her reply to my letter ('Small-circle election for us, please', January 20), can be forgiven for being unaware that universal suffrage can be in the form of indirect election or direct election.

In my letter, I never said anything against universal suffrage per se, only the direct-election mode of it, through which China has been subjected to threats of secession by Taiwan.

The indirect-election mode of universal suffrage, as provided for in Article 45 of the Basic Law, would have provided some safeguard against threats.

But what I would really like to see introduced is a positive instrument, a piece of legislation such as the US Patriot Act. The mainland has such an antisecession law and hopefully in Hong Kong it can be introduced under Article 23.

Yes, respect the voters' wishes, but not when it is secession.

I am sure even the US federal government would come down like a ton of bricks if any state tried to secede, as it did in the secession [civil war] of 1861-65, when 11 states tried to secede.

I suppose, in the case of your correspondent, my argument will fall on deaf ears.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Strangely the SCMP has not printed a single letter in response to this load of nonsense. 

Would the US government “come down like a ton of bricks” if there was a political party in, say, California that advocated independence?  No, because things have changed in the USA in the last 160 years, and if one of the fifty states did really want to secede it would all be resolved peacefully . 

Scotland does have a party that advocates independence, and they now control the Scottish Parliament.  They will hold a referendum, and if the Scottish people vote for independence then the UK will allow it to happen. 

There have been several other peaceful and amicable break-ups, such as Czechoslovakia becoming the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

So you have to wonder why the SCMP lets Peter Lok put forward such absurd arguments and then fails to print letters that challenge his ridiculous assertions.


Foreigners still bad

It’s clear that Sam Wong is not going back down on his argument that the Romans have never done anything for us:

Hong Kong government doing well

South China Morning Post | Friday 3 February 2012

I refer to the letter from Jeffry Kuperus ("Competitive thanks to mainland", January 17) in reply to my letter ("Some deny post-colonial reality of HK", January 12).

He referred to the airport being built under the stewardship of then governor Chris Patten. He complained about social welfare deficiencies, exorbitant room charges in private hospitals, high-priced apartments and a lame-duck chief executive.

The airport was built thanks to the city's abundant reserves, without which Mr Patten would have achieved nothing of note except his controversial political reform package.

So these abundant reserves just happened to be there?  He’s not going to give the colonial administrations any credit for them, is he?

The chief executive is doing a fine job. Economies worldwide are still suffering from the aftermath of the financial tsunami, but the city's economy has remained buoyant. Unemployment remains low and decent social welfare is available to people in need. Prices of apartments are high but this is compensated by a low tax regime. Private rooms in hospitals are expensive but charges are transparent.

The chief executive runs the administration in accordance with the Basic Law, which should not be interpreted as to "kowtow to Beijing".

Of course not.  Donald Tsang is totally his own man. 

Unfair criticism against the chief executive may mislead the public, undermine the administration and slow down the development of democracy in this city.

Right, because no-one criticizes political leaders in democracies.  If people said unfair or untrue things about Obama that would be terrible for democracy.

People living in cage dwellings deserve our sympathy but their future can only be changed by themselves.

I once lived in a small cubicle in a run-down area in Sham Shui Po. The apartment had neither a heater nor an elevator. The conditions were far worse than cage dwellings.  However, I have worked my way up from clerk to financial controller.

Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t' corridor!

Oh, we used to dream of livin' in a corridor! Would ha' been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.

Well, when I say 'house' it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.

We were evicted from our 'ole in the ground; we 'ad to go and live in a lake [continues in similar vein for several minutes].

Hong Kong will not deviate from a prudent monetary policy despite an abundance of reserves. We will not repeat the mistakes of countries in Europe.

Sam Wong, Tsim Sha Tsui


Pots and kettles

Is it possible that the Hong Kong Standard might not exactly be impartial when it reports on changes at its great rival the South China Morning Post?

A paper that's well red

Hong Kong Standard | Thursday, February 02, 2012

What's black and white and red all over?

That old chestnut of a joke is doing the rounds again following the appointment of Wang Xiangwei as editor-in- chief of the South China Morning Post.

His elevation to the top spot comes hot on the heels of a visit to Beijing recently by SCMP CEO Kuok Hui-kwong - daughter of chairman Robert Kuok and known affectionately in the newsroom as "Baby" Kuok.

Baby, wearing black leather thigh- high boots, was allowed a rare one-on- one chat with Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Wang Guangya. (Though they share the same name, he is not related to the SCMP's new editorial supremo.)Baby's lips remained tight after the meeting, but the rumor mill has it Wang was happy to discuss Wang, if you get our drift. The SCMP's Wang, coincidentally, is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of Jilin province.

Also moving up - to deputy editor - is Beijing darling Tammy Tam Wai-yee, formerly ATV's senior vice president. Tam spent a few months on the Post's China desk after quitting ATV over the Jiang Zemin debacle.

Wang is the 10th editor over the past 11 years to sit in the SCMP's fast- revolving hot seat. But, as the venerable organ becomes more firmly attached to Beijing, perhaps he'll last longer than his here today, gone tomorrow predecessors.

Incidentally, SCMP's (0583) share price fell to just HK$1.36 on news of Wang's appointment. That's a fall of 5.56 percent from January when there was talk of a possible Singaporean buyout of the SCMP Group. Seems there could be a lot more red ink to come in more ways than one.

Or here’s another point of view:

Mainlander named as South China Morning Post Editor

Asia Sentinel | Wednesday, 01 February 2012

Image

Who knows what's going on in there?

But not necessarily Beijing’s man

The appointment of Wang Xiangwei as editor in chief of the South China Morning Post, announced Tuesday, has reignited concerns that the paper, arguably the most influential English-language daily in East Asia, is being drawn closer into the mainland Chinese embrace.

Wang, who moved to the paper as a China business reporter in 1996, becoming deputy editor in 2007, is a member of the People's Political Consultative Conference of Jilin Province. He spent three years at the state-owned China Daily before moving to the United Kingdom, where he worked at the BBC and other news organizations. He returned to Hong Kong to work for the now-defunct Eastern Express.

The appointment caps a months-long search for outside talent through at least last November. One journalist who left the paper some time ago after arguments over coverage of China said the decision to name Wang and his deputy, Tammy Tam, “completes the Sinicization of the South China Morning Post.” However, those who have worked closely with Wang say he is likeable and is no stooge for Beijing despite the fact that he is the first editor-in-chief to have been born in Mainland China.

“He is his own man,” one observer said. “His commentaries on China are objective, critical and come from authoritative knowledge. He is respected by his peers and the Beijing brass. He is more of a scholar and intellectual than a manager. His role as editor in chief is probably more focused on leadership on China affairs than in running the newsroom.”