Yeoh: 'I did not shirk my responsibility'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 April, 2004, 12:00am

There is absolutely no basis for the allegations made in Dr Wilson Fung Yee-leung's letter (March 29).

In all the three hearings of the Legco Select Committee recently, I stated clearly that as the policy secretary for health, I am accountable for health work in Hong Kong. I accepted the full responsibility for the inadequacies in the health-care system during the Sars epidemic in the face of the unknown nature of the disease and the magnitude and scale and rapidity of the outbreak. I am accountable for any decision, professional and administrative, made by my subordinates.

There is absolutely no truth in Dr Fung's remark that at the Legco hearings, I tried to shirk my responsibility.

When the epidemic began in Hong Kong in March last year, little was known about the disease. We and the international community were facing a disease for which there was no identified causative agent, no diagnostic laboratory tests, no known treatment or preventive measures. The world underwent a steep learning curve in its knowledge of Sars and control measures.

From the beginning of the epidemic we worked closely with local and overseas experts and the health-care sector in order to learn more about the disease. The government has spared no effort in fighting this new disease. Those involved in battling Sars did all that was humanly possible, and sometimes even remotely possible, to bring it under control. Our guiding principle at all times was that public health and the health of every member of the community must be paramount in every government decision relating to the outbreak.

The government has assimilated the lessons learned in handling this epidemic and will strive to ensure that our system is robust and fully prepared to protect the public from new diseases.

Dr YEOH ENG-KIONG, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food