PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2007, 12:00am

Should there be more help services for the elderly?

It saddened me to read about the plight of the old man who wanted to be jailed because he did not have food or a place to stay.

We have to help elderly people like this man. In their working lives, they have contributed so much to Hong Kong. It is because of that contribution that Hong Kong is now such a prosperous city.

However, they cannot work now because they have reached retirement age and for many of them their health is deteriorating. They helped Hong Kong, now it is time for us to help them.

The government has to provide more resources. The old-age allowance must be increased.

But as well as focusing on social benefits, the message must be got across to people that they have a responsibility to look after their elderly relatives.

Sometimes, the younger generation are so busy with work that they neglect their parents.

Pang Tsz-shan, Lam Tin

I think the welfare services provision for the elderly is adequate. Welfare payments are available for those who have financial difficulties. The Social Welfare Department and some non-governmental organisations offer counselling and help for the elderly.

However, given that we have an ageing population, I wonder if such services will be adequate in the future.

The Census and Statistics Department estimates that within 30 years, 26 per cent of Hong Kong's population of about 8.57 million will be over 65.

With more adults choosing to stay single and many young people not making adequate financial plans for their old age, I can foresee an increased demand for welfare services for the elderly in the future.

I am concerned that the welfare services will not be able to cope with the increased demand and the need for financial and psychological help.

Although this problem of an ageing population is obvious, our government is not planning for the future.

I seldom hear any comments from officials about this. There is no point waiting for years to deal with this issue.

I urge the government to wake up before it is too late.

Steven Lau Yuk-fai, Kwun Tong

The ageing population is becoming a serious problem in Hong Kong.

The financial subsidy for an elderly person is about HK$1,500 a month, which is not enough to meet basic needs. This means that many old people have to find ways to fend for themselves.

You see them collecting cardboard to sell. Others go through bins to find aluminium cans, bottles or paper that they sell for recycling. This illustrates the poverty-stricken state of many of our pensioners.

These people were pioneers helping Hong Kong society to develop. We should be helping them now.

Shirley Chow, Kwun Tong

The government faces a vast challenge to cope with an ageing population.

Welfare payments must be increased. When you take into account the rate of inflation, the benefits they get are not enough to live on.

Also, many old folk live alone and they are often bored. Seldom has anyone got time to sit down and talk with them. Social workers have an incredibly important role to play in this respect.

The government should allocate more resources for the elderly. But at the moment, we do not have enough social workers and the government should do something about this.

Wong Pui-yan, Yau Tong

Should the media leave the 14-year-old student alone?

It was right for the media to report on Ho Hoi-lam when she did so well in her exams and was accepted to study medicine at university.

What she achieved was rare and it was newsworthy. However, I think there has been enough coverage.

As she said herself, she is not a celebrity, just a normal student and I do not think there is anything to be gained from a news-value point of view in continuing to write about her now that she has started her university studies.

If she is not left alone, then it could affect her academic results.

According to news reports, her normal life before going to university was affected. She found it difficult to spend time with her friends.

It is now time for her to be allowed to be a normal student again.

Poon Tsz-hin, Tseung Kwan O

What do you think of the kindergarten voucher system?

I understand that the government wants to encourage people to have more babies.

However, I do not think this will encourage couples to have larger families or alleviate problems of an ageing population.

The voucher scheme is, in effect, providing more money for the kindergartens. Many have increased their fees and the parents end up paying just as much as before. In addition the kindergartens can get subsidies to help them improve their facilities and provide additional training for teachers. So they end up being better off.

When is the government going to wake up and realise that its policies are not solving the problems associated with an ageing population.

Kwan Wai-ching, Diamond Hill

On other matters ...

Fine French dining has become very popular in Hong Kong.

People are becoming aware of the necessary forms of etiquette required at restaurants offering this kind of cuisine. They think about what they should and should not wear and about their table manners. They try hard not to make fools of themselves. Yet there is one faux pas many of them unwittingly commit when they go to these French restaurants.

In Europe, people almost never take their own bottles of wine to restaurants. However, you often see Hong Kong people taking a bottle from their own wine collection when they go out to a restaurant.

The wines people take to these restaurants surely cannot be better than the ones chosen carefully by a sommelier to match the food ordered.

People who do so may not realise that they are insulting the chefs and the sommeliers.

They would not think of taking their own tea leaves to a dim sum restaurant, or their own coffee beans to a coffee shop, so why take their own wine to a restaurant?

B. Bu, North Point