Doctors oppose Legco link-up with herbalists

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 January, 2003, 12:00am

Plans to allow Chinese herbalists to share the medical seat in Legco have suffered a setback, with a survey suggesting doctors are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea.

Of the 1,276 doctors surveyed, 82 per cent said the medical constituency should not open up to Chinese medicine practitioners.

Dentists, who share the seat, also expressed strong opposition, with 64 per cent of the 222 respondents against the plan.

But 55 per cent of 1,139 Chinese herbalists surveyed backed the proposal.

Of more than 3,000 respondents from the three streams, 78 per cent supported a separate seat for Chinese herbalists.

The medical constituency is made up of about 7,000 registered doctors and 700 dentists.

The government has proposed opening up the seat to about 5,000 Chinese medicine practitioners following their long-running battle to gain formal recognition with a registration system last year.

Lo Wing-lok, the medical representative in Legco behind the survey, said the government should reconsider whether to put the three groups together. He said Chinese herbalists were different in terms of their training and demands.

Hong Kong Dental Association president Lam Yau-kong said the profession was concerned that its representation would be further diluted if Chinese medicine practitioners were included.

'We oppose including the Chinese herbalists because it might weaken our voice in Legco,' he said.

While calling for a separate seat in the long term, So Yuen-yuen, of the Hong Kong Modern Institute of Chinese Medicine, supported sharing the seat for next year's elections.

'We are worried that our interests will not be taken into account,' she said.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said it would be difficult to create a separate seat for the Chinese herbalists next year, as the Basic Law only allowed 30 functional constituency seats.

He said he would listen to views over the next few weeks before putting the electoral make-up before the Executive Council. Whether a separate seat would be provided in 2007 would be considered in the review of democratic development, he added.