Misuse of antibiotics is widespread
I think it will be very hard to control the overuse of antibiotics in Hong Kong, because they are handed out like sweets in virtually every pharmacy.
Just go into one and say you've got a cold or flu and they will give you a colourful bag of pills usually including a day or two of varied antibiotics.
Some private doctors also give out only three days of antibiotics instead of a full course.
Most people trust their physicians and have no idea that three days is not enough. I have to wonder what makes a medic do that.
When a doctor gave my husband three days of antibiotics for a sore throat I called him to ask why he had only given half a course.
He was furious, told me I had no right to question him and slammed the phone down.
Also most people have no idea why they have to finish their course of antibiotics. I know quite a few people who, because they feel better after a couple of days of treatment, save the rest of the course for when they feel ill the next time.
The best ways to stop the abuse of antibiotics is to educate people so they understand why they must finish the course, that is, to stop the bacteria getting stronger and resistant to the antibiotics medication next time. Adverts could be put on TV and in Chinese-language newspapers.
It also should be an offence for pharmacies to give out antibiotics without a prescription or for doctors to give out any less than the full course because if the superbugs take over it really will be a case of life or death.
S. Sparkes, Tsim Sha Tsui
Village house policy absurd
I could not agree more with your report ('Strategy on village houses 'defies logic'', April 20). The government has sent a clear message to citizens, which is, 'do it quick and don't let us catch you in the act'.
I am sure many people have already started thinking of adding livable space to their dwellings as an alternative to seeking a new flat that they can't afford.
What is the government going to do about this new wave of illegal construction?
The official interpretation appears to be that a completed illegal structure is deemed legal. So should this principle apply to illegal structures all over the city and should they be allowed to stay?
Given what is happening with village houses, should those who demolished an illegal structure which was later seen as legal be entitled to compensation?
I would also like to know what officials interpret as a work being completed. How do they know that this is the end of the matter?
Perhaps this is only the first of several phases of work planned by the house owner.
The act of building the structure was illegal and therefore it cannot be interpreted as 'completed' [and now legal]. Do the police release a teenager who has just completed smoking his marijuana joint?
The government has just defied logic through its inability to interpret its own law, never mind upholding it.
Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels
Architect should have a plaque
I write regarding the King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road.
My wife and I are friends of the daughter of the architect, Arthur Robert Fenton-Raven.
Wynne Ward still remembers keeping her father company with her sister during his site visits and trips to China.
During those trips her father selected glazed tiles and ornaments for the building.
Ms Ward still lives here, but was somewhat saddened not to see her father mentioned in the report ('Restored mansion draws a crowd', April 3).
It would be nice if she could see some recognition of her father's role in the construction of King Yin Lei.
Perhaps a plaque could be placed somewhere on the mansion, given that it is such an important historical building.
Jose Lei, Discovery Bay
Good news for environment
The mainland has pledged to cut carbon and energy intensity levels by 18 per cent in the next five years.
This will have a positive effect on the environment. Since carbon dioxide is such an important factor with regard to global warming the promised reduction will have a long-term effect on climatic change.
I believe that this plan can help to improve China's worldwide image, although mainland companies may find that they incur additional costs.
These costs should be treated as part of these firms' corporate social responsibility.
It is their way of saying that they are not just there to make money, but want to show their respect for society.
I believe that China's industrial sector will be able to meet, and perhaps even surpass, the five-year environmental goal that it has been set by the central government.
Sophia Leung, Siu Sai Wan
Civic education is neglected
Good life education is important if we are to effectively deal with the rising youth suicide rate in Hong Kong.
The problem is that schools concentrate on the main academic subjects and often they will neglect life and civic education.
They form a relatively small part of the curriculum and should be established as an independent and mainstream subject.
In the past suicide was seen as a last resort taken by adults. But now we are seeing more young people having suicidal thoughts and they have to be taught to face setbacks in a stressful environment. If they are encountering difficulties they need to be able to seek help from teachers and talk through their problems.
Teachers need to work at fostering good relationships with their pupils and must get the message across to youngsters that they should cherish life.
Jennifer Cheung Hoi-Ting Sham Tseng
English popular on mainland
I refer to Cynthia Sze's letter ('English divides Hong Kong', April 18) in which she says that English is a socially divisive language in the city.
I agree that this is, unfortunately, true to a great extent. But I do take issue with a couple of other points she raises.
When she says that English is not a compulsory subject on the mainland, she is technically correct.
Yet, the demand for courses in English as a second language has never been greater.
As of last year, some 30,000 organisations across the country were offering English language programmes.
I also have difficulty following her reasoning when she implies that India has become much better off as a result of the declining prestige of English.
I believe India's rise has more to do with its opening up to a market economy rather than abandoning English, which continues to be a semi-official language and the sole medium of instruction in most of the country's top universities.
I will grant that many local parents can get carried away when it comes to English education, but at least they don't go to the extremes of some parents in South Korea who have their children's tongues surgically lengthened in the belief that it will improve their pronunciation.
Des Crofton, Clear Water Bay
Benign dictators will get ugly
Peter Lok may be right when he points out that democracy is a messy and inefficient form of government, especially when compared to the incisiveness of autocratic dictatorship ('In praise of benign dictators', April 16).
However, just as benign tumours may develop malignancy, it is normal that dictatorships progressively oppose pluralism, and trend towards totalitarianism.
When governments' power does not come from the people, there is a tendency to expand the scope of their power to control every aspect of citizens' lives.
Mr Lok is obviously enamoured of China's 'one-party meritocracy' (his term) and its rapid economic growth (which has been predominantly a function of trading with capitalists and democracies), but I am averse to the Chinese state's arbitrary power to intervene in individual lifestyles and opinions, as ably illustrated by Ma Jian's article ('Seeds of discontent', April 16).
There are aspects of the Castro brothers' Cuba that I admire, but I cannot say the same about the Kim family's North Korea or the generals' reign in Myanmar.
Mr Lok advocates the 'supremacy of benign dictatorship', but as he cannot guarantee authoritarian benevolence give me a shambling democracy any day.
J. F. Kay, Lai Chi Kok
How effective are protests?
People used to complain that the future pillars of Hong Kong society did not care about social affairs.
This no longer appears to be the case with people from the post-1980s generation.
However, they have been criticised for some of their actions. A recent protest was filmed and then posted on YouTube.
In some cases they have been too radical and they have sometimes angered other citizens.
These young people are well educated and surely understand the meaning of democracy.
They want to participate in a democratic system, but I wonder if they are sophisticated enough for such a role.
You can have a situation where thousands of protests are organised which achieve nothing. However, meaningful suggestions can prove invaluable.
M. L. Lam, Kwun Tong