The others are just too frail to talk: resident

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 May, 1999, 12:00am

Kong Tsan, 76, is desperate to move out of his home for the elderly, where he cannot even talk to his neighbours because they either speak a different dialect or are too frail to converse.

The retired mould-maker has been living in the Ki Lung Street, Shamshuipo, home for about a year but said he had been unable to make friends or even learn the names of fellow residents including eight women and three men.

'This man behind me speaks only Toishanese,' Mr Kong. 'The other man there who has cancer is in hospital at the moment.

'I have never spoken to the two women hooked on feeding tubes and the others are just too frail to talk and lie in their beds.

'I try to kill time by reading the entire newspaper since I really have no friends here and I don't even know their names,' said Mr Kong who is paying about $3,600 a month.

Mr Kong is one of the luckier ones. Generally fit though with mild hypertension, he shares a 700-square-foot room with 11 others with no proper fire escape and a kitchen built in an illegal structure.

Each resident is confined to a partitioned area of no more than 50 square feet and all have to share two toilets.

The healthier ones are taken to morning exercise at a park every day, while others are left with nothing to do except watch TV for about four hours in the evening.

The home, founded by a doctor of Chinese medicine about four years ago, is staffed by only two female amahs, one on a day shift and the other covering the nights, to help men and women who cannot bathe themselves.

It is among 296 given an exemption to operate because it cannot meet the standards for a licence.