Budget will improve our hospitals
It can be difficult for Hong Kong citizens who are sick to get the help they need if they are seeking a consultation from a doctor at an emergency ward of a public hospital, or an outpatient clinic.
This is because of the long queues at public hospitals. And you cannot simply walk into an outpatient clinic.
We have this problem because demand for our public health care system exceeds supply. This is why the government is always coming in for criticism for failing to put sufficient resources into the system.
However, I feel that Wednesday's budget speech by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah should make us feel confident that the government is determined to tackle the problems faced by our public health services ('HK$10b to help needy buy medicine', February 2).
He announced that additional funds would be allocated to the rebuilding of two ageing hospitals, Queen Mary and Kwong Wah.
Albert Cheng is right in his column ('Hong Kong can and should pay for good health care', February 1) that it is not acceptable for Hong Kong citizens to be provided with third-world-standard health care services.
Therefore I welcome the redevelopment of these two hospitals.
They will be fitted with up-to-date and top-class medical equipment and their buildings redesigned.
Mr Tsang also announced that a further sum of HK$10 billion will be injected into the Samaritan Fund, which is used to subsidise patients 'who rely on long-term drugs'.
With the fund having these extra resources it will be able to relieve the financial burden faced by these patients.
I think that, when you compare it with last year's budget, it is clear that the administration has done a better job.
It has introduced more practical measures.
This is better than just giving handouts to Hong Kong residents. Also, there are more long-term measures, especially in the area of health care.
W. H. Chan, Kwun Tong
Open more mental health centres
There are insufficient resources to deal with the large number of mentally ill people in Hong Kong ('Murderous minds a symptom of ailing mental health system, say social workers', January 31).
Some psychiatric outpatients have complained that there are not enough mental health centres.
If resources are stretched, this might make the chances of recovery less likely for some patients and this could have dangerous consequences.
This has been highlighted by incidents where citizens have been attacked, and this clearly poses a threat to society.
I would like to see relevant charities opening more health centres and there should be closer monitoring of patients who are living within the community so their progress can be charted.
Siu Man-ting, Sha Tin
Voting rights don't include secession
Virginia Yue ('We should respect voters' choice,' January 30), in her reply to my letter ('Small-circle election for us, please', January 20), can be forgiven for being unaware that universal suffrage can be in the form of indirect election or direct election.
In my letter, I never said anything against universal suffrage per se, only the direct-election mode of it, through which China has been subjected to threats of secession by Taiwan.
The indirect-election mode of universal suffrage, as provided for in Article 45 of the Basic Law, would have provided some safeguard against threats.
But what I would really like to see introduced is a positive instrument, a piece of legislation such as the US Patriot Act. The mainland has such an antisecession law and hopefully in Hong Kong it can be introduced under Article 23.
Yes, respect the voters' wishes, but not when it is secession.
I am sure even the US federal government would come down like a ton of bricks if any state tried to secede, as it did in the secession [civil war] of 1861-65, when 11 states tried to secede.
I suppose, in the case of your correspondent, my argument will fall on deaf ears.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Residents' views will change
I refer to the letter by Sha Tin district councillor Scarlett Pong Oi-lan ('Jockey Club's plan for Sha Tin building ignores neighbours and youth groups', January 21).
She seems to suggest that the nine-storey building which is being planned for Sha Tin racecourse is objectionable to nearby residents because of its height and its 'negative impact on society', as it will be used by the Jockey Club for betting operations. This is most self-serving.
The residents are living in 40-storey skyscrapers opposite the racecourse, separated by the eight-lane Tolo Highway.
I just wonder on what grounds they are objecting to a much smaller building of only nine floors. As was reported in the press, it will be used as a call centre by the Jockey Club to take bets from the public and will house other back-office functions such as an IT data centre.
It will not be open to the public and does not represent an expansion of the racecourse. It will not have an off-course betting centre so I fail to see how it will have a 'negative impact on society'.
Residents moved to Fo Tan in the full knowledge that they would have a racecourse view and that they would be allowing their children to see the horse racing from their flats.
If they feel the Jockey Club can have a bad influence on young people, then why did they move to that location in the first place?
I live in Happy Valley and am lucky to have a racecourse view so I can understand Fo Tan residents' concerns in that respect. However, all Hong Kong citizens have to accept that the view they have from their flat when they purchase it may not remain unchanged.
Even former colonial governors had to accept high-rises blocking some of their view from Government House.
S. C. Lee, Happy Valley
Room for cars but not for cyclists
I refer to the report ('Cycle path to pull up short in Sai Kung', January 24).
Friends of Sai Kung has been involved with this issue ever since the Civil Engineering and Development Department first announced its plan to link all existing New Territories cycle tracks and extend the Ma On Shan track into Sai Kung in 2008.
We attempted to have the track re-routed along the coast, linking the villages of Shap Sze Heung, giving villagers convenience and economic opportunities and giving cyclists some easy riding in fresh coastal air before joining Sai Sha and Tai Mong Tsai roads into Sai Kung town.
This proposal, which would have avoided tree destruction on the Tai Po side of Sai Sha Road, was supposedly scotched by the Tai Po Rural Committee.
Similarly, we hoped that the track would be extended around Sai Kung town and down Hiram's Highway to Ho Chung, but although the transport and highways departments insist there is room for a multi-lane carriageway (which Friends of Sai Kung is against), they are adamant that there is no room for a cycle track along this scenic coastal route, which they also seem determined to ruin.
Guy Shirra, chairman, Friends of Sai Kung
Special day spoiled by scruffiness
Last month, I attended a wedding at the Cotton Tree Drive marriage registry as a witness for the groom.
Not for the first time on such occasions, I was dismayed by the casual and frankly scruffy appearance of some of the staff. One clerk was dressed in a tracksuit, another looked as though she had simply thrown on the first set of clothes that came to hand that morning, none of which was remotely smart or well-matched.
As we walked into the building, we were greeted by a version of the (scarcely appropriate) Air Supply/Westlife song, All Out Of Love. Music continued to play throughout the exchange of vows. A visit to the ladies' room revealed it to be dirty.
All in all, it was not good enough, especially in what is supposed to be Hong Kong's showcase marriage registry.
On what is one of the most important days in two people's lives, surely it is not too much to ask the Immigration Department to provide an appropriately dignified ambience for the occasion.
Specifically, if staff cannot be relied upon to dress smartly, then I suggest they are either provided with uniforms or a clothing allowance that enables them to adhere to a suitable dress code.
Elizabeth Bosher, Discovery Bay