Cab Chat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 2008, 12:00am

Pang Chi-wang, 60, feels the government has overreacted by closing schools because of the flu outbreak - and timed the announcement very badly

I am not too worried about the threat of influenza. Although taxi drivers have to serve different passengers every day and some of them might be sick, we are not too worried.

The media keeps saying the recent flu outbreak at schools brings back memories of the Sars outbreak in 2003, but I don't really feel a thing. It seems to me that it is the press that which is trying to make some stories out of this.

But the news about the death of three children is very sad. Some reports said their parents did take their children to see doctors when they had fever, but they were sent home despite the fact that their body temperature was as high as 40 degrees Celsius. That is outrageous.

How could doctors at public hospitals let these children go home when they were so ill? They should have these children admitted to hospitals and offer them proper medical treatment. Parents do not have such expertise to make diagnosis and offer treatment. If they knew how to cure their sick children, they would not have to take them to hospitals.

I think the government should also have ordered all primary schools to suspend classes earlier instead of making the announcement so late at night. I learnt it from radio news, while I was driving. I am a night-shift taxi driver so I had no trouble telling my family about this arrangement that night. Day-shift drivers did not know because they go to bed quite early. Many of their children did not know and went to school only to find out schools would be closed for two weeks.

I guess most people would have gone to bed by the time the government made the announcement, as most people start working at about 9am. It was after 10.30pm, I think, when the news was widely reported in the media. It was too late. I think the government should have ordered the school ban right after the three children died. They might have died from complications or other reasons. Still, there is no harm in closing the schools for a few weeks. Easter holidays are about to begin anyway.

Talking about medical service, I am quite angry that the government is considering introducing a mandatory medical saving scheme. The mandatory provident fund is already a complete failure. The administrative fee is eating up our contribution. Fund managers are the ones who benefit from the MPF. Our money is now being used to create jobs for those who want to be fund managers or those working for the MPF authority. Also, not everyone has knowledge about investment. Some might even lose money instead of making money after putting money into their MPF accounts all their lives.

Contributing 5 per cent of my salary to the MPF every month is already a heavy burden for me. The amount of money I make every month is just enough for covering household expenses and feeding my children. I really have no spare money to make contributions to the proposed mandatory medical saving scheme. Besides, I have been very healthy all my life and I have never visited a doctor. Why should I waste money on a scheme that might not be useful for me?

The government now has so much money and I don't see why it cannot use the money for improving medical services for us. It is our money, after all. We already don't have any welfare. Only those who don't work can enjoy all kinds of welfare services. We are the ones who work hard and earn our own living instead of relying on the government, and yet the government cannot provide us with cheaper medical services. I will strongly object if the government really goes ahead with the mandatory medical saving scheme.

The government should think of something like increasing the flag fall price for taxis by HK$1 instead of proposing the mandatory medical saving scheme, which will take money away from our pockets. The HK$1 increase measure would be quite helpful for all taxi drivers. I think I would have HK$30 more for every business day, which means about HK$600 more every month. It would really be a great help for us, as the fuel prices keep going up.