PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am


Officials neglect needs of the elderly

There has been a cross-party plea for the government to provide more subsidised residential-care services for elderly couples.

This is an important issue, given that we have an ageing population in Hong Kong as more people are living longer. This is why more residential care services must be provided. I feel that, too often, officials neglect the needs of our senior citizens.

If there are more residential places for couples, then they will be able to stay together and get whatever medical care they may need. Many have chronic ailments and may need a lot of medical care from trained professionals, in some cases, round the clock.

Their condition may mean they are not eligible for a normal care home. At present, some couples who have been together for decades have to make the difficult decision to live apart.

A case in point is the plight of 100-year-old Ng King-yin and his wife of 70 years Lam Sau-king. Mr Ng was offered a normal care centre at which Ms Lam is not eligible due to her severe mental health conditions and need for nursing care service. With more subsidised residential-care services, these elderly couples will not have to face the grim choice between staying with their lifelong partners and the care they need.

Also, the government must reduce waiting times for these services. The budget in February pledged to add 2,600 places in homes for the elderly by 2015. But the budget failed to address the present chronic shortage of services for elderly people. Many old folk are likely to die waiting for a place at a government-operated or private home.

If they are given sufficient subsidies, they will not be deprived of the care they need because of lack of funds.

Society owes elderly citizens a debt. Hong Kong has developed into a modern city thanks to their contribution during their working lives. The government should heed the pleas of lawmakers and resolve these issues.

Catherine Lee, Fanling

Incinerator raises health concerns

I would not support the building of an incinerator as a first or even second option.

Hongkongers must learn to save resources rather than creating waste without giving any thought to the effect they are having on the environment. Sustainable development is all about looking at environmental, economic and social issues.

Supporters of a proposed incinerator project argue that it will replace the landfills which are nearing capacity.

However, I am concerned about the production of more greenhouse gases from the incinerator during the burning of some waste.

I believe that it could harm the environment and also adversely affect some people's health, especially those who have respiratory problems.

We can improve the situation in Hong Kong by generating less refuse.

I think awareness of environmental protection has improved, but it has not gone far enough.

Some people do separate waste from their homes and put it in designated recycling bins, but this practice is still not widespread in the city.

We all have to take responsibility and not just assume that others will clean up the mess we create.

If we really try to reduce the quantities of refuse that go into the landfills, then we might be able to avoid constructing an incinerator.

Claire Yu Min-yu, Tseung Kwan O

Recycling is mandatory in Taiwan

I refer to the proposal to build an incinerator in Shek Kwu Chau. In Hong Kong, we should be devising ways of reducing overall waste rather than creating band-aid solutions.

The city already generates an enormous amount of waste and our volume of waste per capita has increased.

Hong Kong would do well do learn from Taiwan's zero-waste policy. On the island, between 1997 and 2009, daily waste produced per capita was cut from 1.14kg to 0.58 kg.

This is in part due to a per bag charge for non-recyclable waste and fines for citizens who do not sort recyclable waste.

With the adoption of this policy, the government has been able to reduce reliance on both incinerators and landfills. When will recycling become mandatory in Hong Kong?

Nathan Tseng, The Peak

Youngsters learn value of fair play

I have seen the video clips, read the various comments on the recent controversial under-12 soccer match and read the letter by Jamie Spence ('What is root of violence in junior sport?', March 16).

In support of the views of your correspondent, I would like to share my own experiences in this field, through the work of Operation Breakthrough.

Operation Breakthrough is a registered charity that aims to provide sporting and other activities, including self-development courses, for young people, both boys and girls, who are at risk. These activities, which are voluntarily run by serving police officers, assisted by social workers, are aimed at making a difference to the lives of young people, steering young persons at risk away from a life of crime and deterring first-time offenders from re-offending.

At Breakthrough, we believe that youths are the solution, not the problem.

Since its inception 15 years ago, thousands of boys and girls from violent, difficult and complex backgrounds have entered the Breakthrough programme, competing in physical sports such as boxing, rugby, soccer and basketball on a weekly basis, without incident.

In addition to our aims of encouraging those involved to respect others, and respect themselves, we try to instil in them the old-fashioned values of sportsmanship, whereby the referee is respected, and at the end of the match our players shake hands with the opposition and we play hard but, above all, play fair.

Perhaps others could be encouraged to do the same. We all have a role to play in this.

David J. Grant, director, Operation Breakthrough

Car plan could lead to accidents

Some lawmakers have repeated concerns about the scheme to allow mainland drivers into Hong Kong.

Community groups have also warned that the presence of the cars could lead to higher levels of air pollution. More Hong Kong cars will also be allowed to go north of the border, but the biggest obstacle to the scheme would appear to be that with our cars, drivers' seats are on the right side and with mainland vehicles they are on the left.

Given that they drive on the right side of the road, I think mainland drivers might make a wrong turn and this could lead to more accidents.

A new scheme like this needs adequate planning.

Joey Wong, Tsuen Wan