HK$10b shot in the arm for poor patients
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) was one of the parties that approved the financial secretary's budget in the Legislative Council on March 22.
The budget aimed to please the middle class, and the feedback from that sector of society was quite positive.
It is worth noting that, this year, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah earmarked HK$10 billion for the Samaritan Fund, which was set up to provide subsidies to needy patients to relieve the financial burden resulting from drug expenses.
This sum will be spread over 10 years, with HK$1 billion being injected each year into the fund. This is three times the size of the existing fund. It will enable more patients in need to benefit from the scheme and more types of drugs to be covered.
For some time, the public had been calling for an injection of additional resources into this fund to help patients in need.
There were calls for the Community Care Fund to be utilised, but the government decided to allocate this substantial sum directly from the budget. It seems that this time the administration has listened to public opinion.
People will also have welcomed the announcement by Mr Tsang that Queen Mary Hospital and Kwong Wah Hospital would be expanded and provided with improved facilities. This is proof of the government's sincere intention to improve our medical services.
Nonetheless, in order to cope with our ageing society and the increasing demand for medical services, the administration must be prepared to devote more resources to health care.
Government expenditure on health care is about 5 per cent of gross domestic product. This is still below the current percentages in many developed countries, like Britain, Germany and Australia, which range from 7 per cent to 11 per cent.
In this regard there must be a continuous effort.
Holden Chow, chairman,Young DAB
Colonial history rewritten
Two statements in Julia Kwong's letter ('Dismissing colonial delusions', March 26) need correcting.
The first is that Philippine national hero Jose Rizal came to Hong Kong to plot the overthrow of the Spaniards in the Philippines, like Ho Chi Minh did vis-a-vis the French in Vietnam.
Rizal came to the British colony after some years in Europe, where he not only pursued his medical studies but also wrote two revolutionary books satirising the Spanish colonialists in his country.
While abroad, he was part of an idealistic group of fellow patriots who discussed ways to demand that Spain loosen its oppressive rule, some wanting to plot revolution. But Rizal disagreed with radical moves, preferring his country to remain under Spain, which he hoped would consider liberal reforms.
Worried about his family's persecution in Manila for their connection to him, he travelled to Hong Kong and set up an ophthalmology clinic to earn a living. His parents and siblings escaped to the colony, thanks to 'the anomalies of Spanish rule', according to the late British historian Austin Coates. At no time was Rizal actively engaged in revolutionary plots against Spain.
As for Ms Kwong's statement that US President Barack Obama's Kenyan grandfather was 'a victim of British atrocities in the Mau Mau uprising,' nowhere in Obama's autobiography does he mention this.
He wrote that his ancestor grudgingly accepted British colonial rule, even going to the extent of working as a cook for a British captain and travelling widely with British regiments during the second world war.
In pushing her unlikely thesis, Ms Kwong writes her own wild version of colonial history.
Isabel Escoda, Lantau
New Sevens format will hurt players
Another Sevens came and went, with the cup final between New Zealand and Fiji played at a phenomenal pace and intensity. Fifty-plus points in a Sevens match was just incredible. However, the new International Rugby Board (IRB) format (that is, two tiers of competition) leaves much to be desired.
This was highlighted on Sunday, with teams having multiple finals, qualifying, pre- and post-qualifying games. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union appears to be sandwiched between the IRB and the paying public with the early adoption of this new match format.
As a fan, player and referee of rugby for more than 25 years, I believe it is only a matter of time before player injuries rise considerably, given this now prolonged match time in what is already a very physical sport played in humid conditions.
Players' associations will be watching the introduction of this new Sevens format very closely, particularly given an already exhausting playing and travel schedule on the IRB Sevens circuit for most of these teams.
One only had to observe the England team in their third match against South Africa (28-0 for South Africa) to see the physical toll of this format on one team - and this sympathetic observation comes from an Aussie.
And I could have sworn that Argentina and Samoa played each other six times on Sunday ... or perhaps I just had one too many Pimm's?
Ralph Barnes, Sai Kung
Surprised by recycled video clips
May I congratulate the organisers of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens for yet another superb festival of sport.
I found the new two-part competition confusing, but the quality of the rugby and the whole spectacle was amazing.
This was my 25th Sevens and my most enjoyable, except for the sad fate of the Hong Kong side.
But, I was disappointed to see that the promotional video clips shown regularly on the big screen seemed to me a copy of the one produced by TCOB Media to publicise its Beach 5s rugby last year. I am surprised the video producers, with all the facilities at their disposal, did not come up with something original.
Gordon Lewis, Crundale, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Passengers should pay for runway
An expansion of the airport has been proposed to cope with increasing volumes of passengers and cargo.
There has been heated discussion, in particular, about the plan to build a third runway at Chek Lap Kok.
Passengers obviously want to save on their travelling time whenever possible, and with an extra runway this would be possible. And if there were to be a problem with flight scheduling, the airport authorities would find it easier to adjust and cope if a third runway was in place.
When it comes to paying for the project, I think passengers would have to shoulder some of the financial responsibility.
I believe that it is consistent with the polluter-pays principle ('Travellers may have to pay for third runway', March 21), with the possibility that the fee 'may be reflected in air fares'.
After all, these travellers would enjoy the benefits of this massive infrastructure project.
It would be a financial burden if all taxpayers had to pay, especially those on low incomes who might have no intention of flying on a plane.
Most travellers, including businessmen, would be able to afford the surcharge.
The third-runway project is needed if Hong Kong is to remain an international aviation hub.
Air traffic has been increasing on the back of strong economic growth in Asia, so further expansion at the airport is essential.
The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, despite the prospect of higher air fares; however, I do think that further public consultation is needed.
Crystal Mok, Ma On Shan
HK defined by honesty, rule of law
I refer to the letter by Arthur Law of Shenzhen ('Once-vibrant HK now has no soul', March 26) and wish to say how very wrong he is.
I, too, have spent ample time in Shenzhen, having rented my first apartment there back in 1997. Since then, I have split my time between Hong Kong and the mainland.
He may be forgiven for not recognising Hongkongers' core values. Here civil servants, police officers and staff in public hospitals, including the doctors and nurses, are not corrupt. They do their duty without requiring that they be paid 'extras'.
Our judges and the courts they sit in uphold the law. They cannot be influenced by party politics. Lawyers can defend clients against criminal charges without being threatened with jail terms.
The values that I have described are what collectively make up Hong Kong's soul.
Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong