talk back

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am

Q Should Dragon Garden be preserved?

'Family split on fate of Dragon Garden' (July 5) presents an incomprehensible situation. Filial piety is a cornerstone of Chinese society. Lee Iu-cheung was a man of charity and distinction, and spent 20 years cultivating this magnificent garden as a legacy and a site for his mausoleum.

While some members of the surviving family wish to maintain his legacy, it appears that others can only see dollar signs. It is tragic if Hong Kong life has become so materialistic that our traditions are being summarily discarded. It is unfathomable that their grandfather's heritage can be demolished and sold off to a developer. What is happening to Chinese family values?

Y.P. Ho, Central

Shame on Lee Him and the two grandsons who have voted to dispose of Dragon Garden. The reason these people are comfortable in the world is because of the wealth of their father or grandfather, Lee Iu-cheung, and he owed his success - at least in part - to Hong Kong.

Even if he didn't intend it as such, his garden has been a small thank you to the place that made him; when open to the public as a pleasant spot in which to stretch legs and as a tourist attraction, and even when closed as a valuable green pocket in an increasingly built-up area.

If poverty is a factor for these people (and the length of time this plot has been left idle suggests it is not), with a little imagination the garden could be made to turn a profit as an attraction.

That just leaves greed. These people are ready to throw away something Lee put much effort into creating (that could bring much joy in his name) for a quick buck.

Brian Hart, Sai Kung

On other matters ...

On July 5, your newspaper reported on the suicide pact between three women in their 30s who had chosen to die together to escape their seemingly hopeless lives. It seems they had formed a bond when they met at Castle Peak Hospital, which treats and helps those who are undergoing mental health problems, and people who have attempted suicide.

Medical legislator Kwok Ka-ki highlighted the problem that there is a serious lack of social workers, whose time often only allows them to deliver patients medication. And as John Tse Wing-ling added, former mental patients are at a higher risk of committing suicide, one of the reasons being that they have poor problem-solving skills which reduces their ability to cope with everyday life.

As a community, we are urged to be supportive and accept people with mental health issues, especially their families.

However, these families too are often under much stress because they themselves also don't have the necessary coping skills for their own lives, let alone for their relatives.

It therefore seems that the public mental health system is woefully understaffed and has inadequate resources to help those who are most at risk - that is, those who cannot afford private treatment, which is out of reach except for the very wealthy.

I therefore urge the powers that be to recognise the urgency of the need to address the issue of suicide as a vital public health issue.

The government tackled deaths from road traffic accidents as a matter of priority, and that has proved to be very successful. With the number of suicides in Hong Kong averaging three a day, I think that now is the time for the government to lend some energy to providing resources to stem the horrendous loss of life from suicide each day.

Until this matter can be addressed at the government level, perhaps I can make a suggestion for those in the public health mental care system who are unable to give the time required to listen to the suicidal thoughts of their patients. I recommend that they call the Samaritans Hotline.

Indeed, I would urge anyone who is feeling depressed, helpless and hopeless and who has intense suicidal feelings to call us. Our service is free, totally confidential and the lines are open 24 hours every day and answered by trained volunteers.

People in need can call our hotline number on 2896 0000.

Liz Chamberlain, director,

the Samaritans

I would like to draw readers attention to the terrible state of government-subsidised dentistry in Hong Kong.

An acquaintance of mine recently had to have several teeth removed before he could have false ones fitted. He is sick and out of work, and was told to go to the free government clinic in Kowloon City.

He was told it was only twice a week and that tickets are given out at 9am, but when he got there at 7am he was told (by other patients) that they had been there at 2am and people arriving after 4am had no way of getting a ticket.

Most of the people were old and infirm and there was nowhere to sit while they queued and no shelter from the elements. Also, some old people said they were scared to be in that area late at night.

The clinic will only take one tooth out at a time, so most people had to be there over a period of several weeks at 2am to try to get a ticket, as only around 40 are given out.

No wonder someone tried to commit suicide last year due to being unable to see a public dentist and unable to pay for a private one. This is a crazy situation in 'Asia's world city'.

J. Chung, Jordan