PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am

Screening helps, but people must think about their health

We agree with Weida Day ('Colorectal cancer screening in our public hospitals could save lives', January 3). More resources should be directed towards preventative medicine, given the growing incidence of colorectal cancer in our community and the fact that it is one of the few cancers that is preventable when detected early.

It would certainly save public money and the emotional expense incurred by patients.

However, people need to take ownership of their health through healthy eating and undergo routine screenings relative to their age and medical history.

To boost awareness of colorectal cancer and encourage people to undergo routine screenings, Hong Kong Cancer Fund has done a lot in the community to help bring cancer under control.

Since 2006, we have given away 1,000 free faecal occult blood tests, (used to detect blood in the stools), provided ongoing funding to support a hereditary gastrointestinal cancer genetic diagnosis laboratory managed by the University of Hong Kong that offers screening services to high-risk individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer, as well as offering discount colonoscopies (a detailed examination of the large and small bowel).

Hong Kong Cancer Fund is offering discount colonoscopies to men and women aged 50 or above at HK$6,000 (original price HK$7,000) in partnership with St. Paul's Hospital to the first 150 to apply (phone 3667 6333).

To learn more about colorectal cancer prevention visit our website (www.cancer-fund.org/colorectal).

Sally Lo, chairman, Hong Kong Cancer Fund

Criticism of religion can be a risky business

I refer to the letter by Chris Wilson ('The dark side of organised religion', January 3). There are three main large-scale drivers of man's inhumanity to man - nationalism, social engineering and religion. Religion is possibly the single greatest cause of human slaughter and tragedy throughout history and religious belief also plays a role in the death and destruction arising from the other two instigators.

So many millions have died in religious conflict and yet all religions claim to be peaceful and ask for, and demand, respect. Respect for what? If one person ran around shouting the illogical, irrational, unfounded and empirically unproven beliefs held by the religious faithful he would be forced to seek psychiatric help.

When a mass of people hold the same beliefs we are not allowed to criticise, and must treat these beliefs with dignity.

Why should I be free to criticise anyone's beliefs and opinions about history, politics, physics and literature in the rational world, but not feel free to utter any criticism of their religious faith? When it comes to religious dogma, true freedom of expression is sidelined by common societal consent. Indeed, expressing my views on religion can get me killed.

Peter Sherwood, Discovery Bay

Faith has allowed societies to be strong

It seems trendy in these days to criticise organised religion, and in particular the Christian faith (Chris Wilson, 'The dark side of organised religion', January 3). And it is very difficult to defend many of the tenets which are upheld by the leading churches.

People have wanted since the start of history to believe in a greater being and have fashioned certain aspects of their culture to reflect this.

Then it develops into what can be seen as the general belief of society. I am not in a position to debate the rights and wrongs of people's beliefs. However, I do feel that it is important to recognise that aspects of Judaeo-Christian belief over the past two millenniums have given a strong grounding regarding what is right and wrong and allowed societies to remain strong and face adversity.

All societies are faced with the difficult decision of what to teach as a moral code. Do we teach something, even if it puts that society at a disadvantage?

Gay rights can be a difficult issue to deal with. Do you accept gay rights or not?

This must be seen as a personal issue. However, the church does have the obligation to voice an opinion on this matter and its views should be respected. It is wrong to brand organised religion as bigoted. We must respect the right to free speech.

In trying to deal with, for example, the youth drug problem and people involved in compensated dating, maybe the answer is to return to traditional moral values.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Sexual orientation is not set in stone

I take issue with your editorial ('Hypocrisy evident when it comes to homosexuality', January 4). I am writing on behalf of Caring Friends, which provides information about homosexuality to the public.

The Hong Kong Country Club could enjoy the freedom to determine the make-up of its members, apart from moralists wishing to impose their arbitrary and largely undefended values of the day. There's nothing wrong with a club supporting individuals who make a commitment to marry ('Club's spouse plan gets gays offside', January 2). Additionally, homosexual relationships may be far more transitory than your paper credits.

People often find many of the details of homosexuality new to them. Public policy should not be based on misinformation.

For example, some males enter homosexuality with heterosexual sex experience. Other men began life as heterosexuals and married, had children and then left their wives of many years to adopt homosexuality. American Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson is certainly not alone in this latter path. Sexual orientation is not set in stone.

So I am surprised by your statement, 'some entertainment stars and executives are homosexual' as if this sexual orientation must be a lifelong arrangement. Acclaimed sexologist Alfred Kinsey studied homosexuality extensively. He found that 60 per cent of men left homosexuality. Some people wish to force the word 'homosexual' into being a noun, as if it is a permanent condition. Nevertheless, the term homosexual rightly stands as an adjective reflecting the present situation. Consequently, in practical terms, how does a club keep track of the sleeping arrangements of its members?

Then again, by what right does anyone wish to impose their morals upon a country club over a homosexual condition [which is] transitory for partners and not necessarily in the interests of males or females wishing to keep their sexual orientation private?

Gordon Truscott, chairman, Caring Friends

Nujiang such a pristine environment

I read with interest the article ('Nomadic priest keeps the faith alive', January 3).

I recently travelled to Nujiang in Yunnan and was most impressed with its pristine environment, the intermixing of many ethnic minorities and their faith in Christianity. Every village I visited had a church, Catholic or Protestant. This area, together with the adjacent gorges through which the Lancang and Jinsha rivers flow, is now under threat from big hydropower dams.

Their construction is illegal, as some have not complied fully with prevailing laws and regulations.

Cyrus K. Hui, Central