Murder-suicide prompts review

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am

Welfare chiefs yesterday promised to review a murder-suicide on Sunday in which a man with a history of mental illness threw his six-year-old daughter from their 19th-floor flat before jumping to his death.

This came after reports that government social workers stopped counselling for Choi Kin-hung, 34, late last year after it was judged his marriage problems had improved.

Labour and Welfare Bureau secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government would review the case and look at how services could be improved.

'The Social Welfare Department will have in-depth analyses of the case and suggest solutions to make improvements,' Mr Cheung said. The review would look to improving frontline counselling services, he said, but he declined to go into more detail.

The Social Welfare Department has come under fire for allegedly neglecting mental patients with a background of domestic violence. But Director of Social Welfare Stephen Fisher said yesterday it was impossible to predict when mental patients might relapse.

'We will review how we can do better,' he said, adding that the department would also strengthen public education on children's rights.

Department social workers last night offered on-site counselling to residents of Pok Hong Estate, Sha Tin, where the tragedy occurred early on Sunday.

Sam Leung Kin-hung, who heads the department's social workers' union, said the official review would only look at procedural faults instead of the whole system and the department's understaffing. He said it was useless to hold 'a review without confronting the real problems'.

There are fewer than 200 psychiatric medical social workers and they handle 100 cases each, while the city has more than 200,000 mental patients, according to Mr Leung and the Society for Community Organisation.

But Mr Fisher denied that heavy workloads had contributed to Sunday's tragedy.

Choi had received counselling from departmental social workers for 'two to three years' for marital problems until it was terminated late last year, according to the department.