More funding may have averted despair

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 1997, 12:00am

The Tsuen Wan gassing might have been averted if the Government had given more funds to struggling crisis centres, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

A judge and a senior barrister called for immediate action to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Mr Justice Michael Wong Kin-chow said: 'This is a serious problem that has to be looked at.' Barrister Michael Poll pointed out the Samaritans, a crisis hotline, was so short of volunteers and resources that two-thirds of its callers could not get through.

'We don't know if any of these people called, or even heard about the Samaritans,' Mr Poll said.

'But if they had tried, they might not have got through,' he said.

Samaritans director Rosemary Peacock said the organisation was short of money and volunteers.

Donations are down, and contributions from the Community Chest cover just one quarter of the annual costs.

The Tsuen Wan gassing was Chan Ying-cheung's fifth unsuccessful attempt to end his life. When his first marriage fell apart he took a drug overdose, leapt from a building's 14th floor, took poison and crashed his motorcycle.