Generation 40s – 四十世代

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港大百年校慶

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C04 | 品味旅遊 | 劍河長篙 | By Alan.C
2011-12-17

本周日港大將舉行一百周年校慶晚宴,將是香港史上一個規模最浩大的慶典,於灣仔會展延開三百六十五席,筆者有幸佔當中一席以宴請恩師好友,一同與五千多位不同年代的校友和教員聚首一堂,普天同慶。

人文薈萃蔚為大觀

一百年前辛亥之初,巍巍中華,風雨如晦,百廢待舉。港大隨之成立,沒有保守專制的羈絆和壓制,建立起城市尊尚學術風氣,歷經百年風雲,傳承至今,負擔起啟蒙學人之使命。屹立太平山西北麓,有溪水長流,受群山拱衞,又靜謐幽曠,擁古木參天。在月影湖光、畫棟雕樑、風華物茂之
秀麗學術殿堂之內,活躍的學術思想得以無限發展,孕育追求智識和崇尚自由的執着,至今仍然中西並用,觀其會通,承前啟後,繼往開來,百年來人文薈萃,蔚為大觀。

港大的精神財富,今日一如以往的沸騰熱血,激勵一代又一代莘莘學子。招攬吸納人才方面從來不拘一格,廣採博收,百家爭鳴,形成獨特的自身文化結構。當年政法系,同學坦然而真誠,多半喜愛於明華樓社科院政政系進出之時,侃侃而談,為社會建立理想國之夢想在此綻放。恩師們亦親切和藹,平易近人,平淡而幽默。在文學院的歷史系,更見主修生以文會友,肝膽相照,率性自我,於陸佑堂周邊四處遊蕩,當中有牛劍式的散漫。

引經據典亦敬亦畏

跟社科院一樣,師生未有尊卑高低貴賤,君子以友講習,涵養須用敬,進學在致知,以魅力薰陶學生,反覆申論再引經據典,指點江山於激揚言語之中,傳授的彷彿是一種只可心領神會的道理。而當回到KK Leung樓法學院裏,走過Pigeon Hole 看到從來讀之不盡的筆記與案例, 而正在駐足掙扎應否索性置之不理之時, 又面對那個學界泰斗老師剛走過時的那份不可一世的傲慢,亦敬亦畏,又被猛然抽回現實中,時刻被提醒要為前程事業作實際準備,為跨國律師行的高薪厚職鋪路。

靜靜午睡於圖書館舊翼的書架之間,冥思苦想於開心公園的高談闊論之內,此等記憶深深地烙印在每個年輕的港大心靈之中。今周日會展將聚四方知名之士,共同品味着香港最重要的文化盛宴,紀念曾經在內共同生活過的那生命綠洲,度過那不安分的青春年華,一同見證及參與百年學府的歷史與成長。

Alan.C


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Pushing frontiers

South China Morning Post
Opinion
Dec 12, 2011


Hong Kong is being outpaced by regional economies that are investing heavily in R&D for innovation, and some fresh thinking from the top is needed to get us back into the race
Tony Chan

A change in top leadership looms in Hong Kong, as does a critical choice in the future direction of its development. Long hooked on the thrillsand spills of the property and equity markets, whose returns are short term and immediate, Hong Kong needs to ask itself whether it can continue to indulge in its comfortable one-dimensional economic thinking by brushing off the need for long-term strategy and economic diversity. Consider science and technology, for example.

Hong Kong needs to ask itself two crucial questions. First, why does the city need science and technology? It is a good way to diversify our economic base; with no natural resources, other than its people, science and technology innovation offers us a way to move up the value-added ladder and maintain our high standard of living. It can also use to its advantage the rise of the Chinese economy and its substantial investment in science and technology; it gives opportunities and hope for our younger generation; and, finally, why shouldn’t affluent Hong Kong try to contribute to such an important part of human civilisation?

None of the world’s leading financial centres is willing to yield leadership in science and technology innovation to other cities. Shanghai is not yielding to Beijing. Instead, it is investing heavily to attract multinational R&D to its science parks. New York wants to compete with Silicon Valley; mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for proposals from leading science and technology universities around the world to build branch campuses in New York. And everybody in Hong Kong knows about Singapore. The objective conclusion is that either they are all foolish or they all see the future the same way.

The second question is: can Hong Kong do it successfully? The situation is much more favourable than even 20 years ago. First, we have the human capital. Our students have consistently ranked among the best in global science aptitude tests. Our universities are ranked among the best in Asia. Under “one country, two systems”, we can use to our advantage China’s national goal, embedded in its latest 12th five-year plan, to make science and technology a key component of national development. And I challenge anyone to find a region in China more favourable than Hong Kong and the rest of the Pearl River Delta in having a combination of top universities, large markets, a multitude of technology enterprises, rule of law, mature intellectual property protection, world-class infrastructure and an international city that is welcoming to global talent.

Other economies have successfully harnessed science and technology. Singapore’s gross domestic product has grown by about 16 times over the last 30 years. Today, it is a hi-tech economy with the highest per capita GDP among the four Asian Tigers. Over the same period, South Korea’s GDP has grown over 14 times, while Hong Kong’s grew by about seven times. Forty years ago, Korea was a third-world economy. Today, it possesses many reputable global technology brands. Significantly, it is spending over 3 per cent of its GDP on R&D, and Singapore’s spending will rise from the current 2.3 per cent to 3.5 per cent in 2015. The mainland will increase its current 1.8 per cent to 2.2 per cent in five years.

Shouldn’t Hong Kong, with only 0.79 per cent of our GDP for research and development, follow suit?

The Hong Kong government has made some efforts to move forward on science and technology innovation. It has established the Innovation and Technology Commission and the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, and has nurtured a Science Park of growing effectiveness. But what is missing is a clear signal from the top that the development of science and technology is of the utmost importance to the future of Hong Kong.

Increasing the percentage of R&D spending, say, to at least match the mainland’s 2.2 per cent, would be a strong signal. In the early stages of science and technology development, the role of government is critical. Hong Kong can no longer continue to hide behind its self-congratulatory economic philosophy of “active non-intervention” when it comes to science and technology development.

We also need a high-level bureau for long-term strategic planning, with the necessary budget and authority. It must offer powerful incentives, in the form of tax rebates or deductions, patent laws, friendly incorporation regulations and land grants, to attract multi-nationals to set up their R&D labs in our city. In a highly competitive regional environment, the absence of government initiatives and incentives is tantamount to handicapping our people. We also need our government to enhance collaboration with the mainland, to ride on its substantial science and technology investment, talent and enterprises.

Finally, getting people excited about science and technology requires a culture change, involving parents, employers, investors and government leaders. Technology is not just something “created elsewhere”; we, too, can invent and adapt new technology for economic gain. We need to value innovation above exam performance. We must be ready to try, and have no fear of failure.

Do we want to be left by the wayside in the global science and technology race? Do we want to be 40 years behind South Korea and Singapore, or become the technological backwater of China? It would be a pity were that to happen, considering that conditions here are the envy of our competitors.

Tony Chan is president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
This is an edited excerpt of his recent speech at the university’s Science and Technology Forum


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那些年,我們一起反對的..

Hong Kong Economic Journal
A16 | 時事評論 | By 許為天
2011-12-17

從今年五六月開始,新高中的第一批前行者,不論師生,已進入為明年第一屆中學文憑試備戰的狀態。而要準備公開試,前決條件是將教學課程趕在模擬試前教完。

在舊制的高考,最遲的會在一月底前完成;而中學會考則可遲多一個月。

可是,為迎接第一屆文憑試,考評局善意地製作了全港性的模擬考卷,會於一月按科目送到學校,計劃是全港中學可在同日進行測試。學校要在原來模擬試(Mo ckExam,一般在二月進行)前加設這個恩賜的的預備試(Pre Mock),便要將整個教學進度搬前一個月。

再加上新課程和評核未有前科,難以掌握,師生教學內容也只會寧多勿缺。故此,大多數升中六級的師生便要在今年暑假持續安排補課以完成課程,師生俱疲。

而在十一月教評會進行的問卷調查,超過五百個任教新高中老師的回應中,有八成的老師表示未能在正常教節內完成課程,更有九成的老師須要利用暑假、其他假期或課後安排補課,以完成教學的課程。

教學實踐困難重重

另一方面,在新高中課程改革中遭受嚴重干擾的兩個科目,數學及「企業、會計與財務概論」(簡稱「企會財」),任教的教師亦於不同場合中指責該科的課程改革失誤,導致現時在教學實踐中困難重重。

翻看七年前( 即2004年),在教評會回應《改革高中及高等教育學制——對未來的投資》諮詢文件時,已針對當時這兩科的改革建議提出異議:在「中國語文」及「英國語文」兩科核心科目外,仍保留「中國文學」及「英語文學」。若說「中╱英國語文」與「中╱英國文學」兩科的深入程度不同,應讓學生就其能力選擇其合適的程度修讀,則為什麼「附加數學」、「純粹數學」及「應用數學」等在同一個學習領域內而程度不同的科目會被融合在一科「數學」之內?

並建議:重新整理現時高中及預科所有數學課程,拼合成「數學」(Mathematics ) 及「高等數學」(Further Mathematics)兩科。

而當局卻一意孤行,只將程度較深的數學編作延伸部分:單元一(M1)及單元二(M2),並無獨立科目的課時編排;亦只有少數大專院校的科系接受延伸部分為入學的考慮。課時不足,導致師生要在正課以外加時補課;認受性不強,接近半數學生讀到中六時便退修延伸部分,筆者估計M1 及M2 合共的考生數目必然比當年附加數學的二萬為低。新高中的數學課程的高深部分,已比中台英美新加坡的為淺。

再加上應考人數下降,本港中學優秀學生的數學水平的發展,確是叫人擔心。

另一科目企會財面對的情況更為惡劣。而在七年前,教評會亦與任教商科科目的老師聯合提出:

會考及高考的「會計學原理」、會考的「商業」及高考的「企業概論」,兩科原是獨立科目,學生可同時選讀。但是現時卻要拼合成「企業、會計與財務概論」,其中將兩科分立,學生不可同時修讀。為什麼要規限學生在商科【註】的選擇,倒反在文科及理科中便沒有限制?

並建議:

維持「會計學原理」、「商業、企業概論」成獨立的科目,學生可同時選讀。

漠視前線教師看法

到今日,當局迫壓兩科合併之後,更漠視前線商科教師的看法,如欠缺諮詢、課程指引含糊、課時不足等,還要強硬推行沒有課時編排的校本評核。官逼民反,又一典型。

那些年的反對聲音聽不入耳,弄至現時師生教學受困。如果新高中的改革只為完成當年教育領導者的一些美好夢想,那麼我們見到今日在校園內的犧牲也真的是太大了。

註:現時為遷就八大學習領域,商科科目歸入「科技教育」,與「家政」、「資訊及通訊科技」同類。商科是本港大專院系學科重要的體系,實事求是,將會計、財務、企業概論及經濟科目歸類為「商科教育」,倒好過「八大學習領域」中的不倫不類。

教育評議會副主席
許為天


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Lack of financial control is the source of economic misery in Europe and US

South China Morning Post
Opinion
2011-12-15

Hu Shuli says political decisions can corrupt a market economy as well as a planned one, and it’s vital to see that fiscal discipline is enforced to ensure recovery

Updated on Dec 15, 2011
The European debt crisis is coming to a head. EU members agreed on a major step towards greater integration at a summit last week. Though Britain vetoed a treaty, the tougher budget rules can still be enforced through an agreement between the remaining 26 members of the European Union.

The pact seeks to strengthen fiscal discipline within the euro area through sanctions and the authority to reject national budgets. It comes at a time when the crisis is spreading to the core euro countries, amid warnings the region could slip back into recession.

The causes of the crisis are complex, but the main problem is that the euro-zone countries share a single currency without a unified fiscal policy. They are subject to financial regulation, yet there is no overarching system to hold them accountable when rules are flouted. In short, fiscal discipline is lax.

Commentators are right, of course, to point out that the lack of fiscal discipline by itself cannot explain the scale of the problem in indebted countries. But it is worth noting that, although the financial crisis in the US and the debt problems in Europe are different, their nature is similar: both involved lax financial discipline.

At last month’s Caixin Summit, Professor Qian Yingyi, the dean of Tsinghua University’s school of economics and management, analysed the lack of financial control using economist Janos Kornai’s description of the “soft budget constraint” syndrome. Qian said the problem involves a failure not just of fiscal and monetary policies, but also financial regulation. The credit crisis in the US began at the micro level and was set off by toxic subprime loans; the budget crisis in Europe straddled the macroeconomy and is beyond any national government’s financial ability to resolve.

A soft budget constraint, which results in financial decisions that are based on politics, rather than economics, is said to be a particular problem of a planned economy. But it can also corrupt a market economy. A state-led zeal for investment, an overextended government and populist welfare policies can all lead to ill discipline in financial decisions. China is also wrestling with this problem of a lack of budget control.

Of course, a mature market is flexible and self-correcting. Europe’s proposed measures to strengthen fiscal discipline are to be commended. They highlight three key principles: supervision, self-correction and the separation of powers. First, governments of the euro zone will be required to submit their national budgets to the European Commission for approval before they seek endorsement from their own lawmakers. This seeks to limit the influence of populist pressure and vested interests.

Second, a breach of fiscal rules will automatically trigger disciplinary action, so that countries may not escape penalty through bargaining and politicking.

Third, the European Court of Justice will have the power of arbitration between the European Commission and member countries, providing the necessary checks and balances.

Enforcing financial discipline by itself won’t be enough. Many analysts have said the ultimate solution is to promote economic growth so that the euro zone can avert a “lost decade”. That may be true, but if no steps are taken to boost fiscal discipline, any growth that may come cannot be sustained. This is the thinking behind the European Central Bank’s call to enforce the rules first, before taking action to strengthen the euro.

The relationships within and outside the structure of the European bloc are complex, and the political agenda is ever changing. Thus, the outcome of its latest efforts is uncertain: the devil will be in the details. But it now has a hard-won consensus on the road ahead. Without a doubt, policymakers in Europe – the cradle of modern civilisation – will in the end find innovative solutions to resolve the crisis. A new and better system, more suited to Europe’s economy, will evolve from the ashes of the old.

As the financial crises unfold in the US and Europe, there’s no lack of Chinese critics who delight in pointing out that the Chinese economy is, by contrast, chugging along. All thanks, they say, to our “development model with Chinese characteristics”.

It is true that growth has been strong due both to the economic reforms of the past and the more recent stimulus, pushing public revenues to 26 per cent of gross domestic product. But the government has been running a budget deficit for years. Not only is the growth of such a burden worrying, but the effectiveness of its spending is also questionable.

With revenue growth likely to taper off, the government cannot afford to continue such spending without putting the economy at risk. Furthermore, printing money to stimulate the economy is not without grave consequences, as can be seen in our economy today. This is one instance of the financial ill discipline described by Professor Qian, as are high local government debt, the irrational development of high-speed railways, and the lavish spending of government officials.

In any crisis, there will be opportunities for change. If Europe seizes those being offered in its time of difficulty, it can achieve a true financial and political union. And if China strengthens its own financial discipline, it can free itself from the predicament of constantly fighting fires, and focus on improving its governance for steady growth.