PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am


Wrong to reveal HIV victim's name

I am a general practitioner in London and was saddened to read the report about a surgeon who had jumped to his death in January and that a post mortem revealed that he had HIV ('140 patients of HIV doctor to be given tests, March 27).

Although the risk of transmission from an HIV-infected health-care worker through any exposure-prone procedure (EPP) is extremely small (only four verified cases to date worldwide), a 'look-back' exercise has been taking place to inform all his patients and offer them counselling and testing for HIV.

In fact, the Department of Health in England is considering lifting current restrictions on HIV-infected health-care workers to undertake EPPs due to the small risk, provided the worker is under treatment by an HIV specialist and the viral load remains 'undetectable'. This would deem 'look-back' exercises unnecessary for most cases.

However, I found it disturbing that the Hospital Authority disclosed the name of the infected health-care worker.

I am not sure what purpose this serves other than cause more anxiety and distress to colleagues as well as grieving friends and relatives.

With so much stigma associated with HIV, surely he should have been entitled to confidentiality, even posthumously?

This breach of confidentiality will hardly help to encourage any HIV-infected health-care staff to disclose their HIV status.

Dr Richard Ma, London, England

UK voters do not elect their leader

I refer to Michael Ko's letter ('Britain's elections are different', March 31), which requires clarification.

Britain has a parliamentary system in which the people vote to elect a member of parliament to represent their constituency.

They do not get to elect the prime minister. By constitutional tradition, the reigning monarch invites the leader of the party which has a majority of seats in the House of Commons to form the new government.

In the event that none of the parties wins an overall majority, as was the case in the last general election which produced a hung parliament, the question of who will form the next government will be decided through behind-the-scenes cross-party discussion.

The voters had virtually no say in the course of the negotiations which led to the formation of the present Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Joseph Lam, Central

Motorists ignore zebra crossings

Most drivers in Hong Kong do not observe the traffic regulations by slowing down when approaching zebra crossings and giving right of way to pedestrians.

Instead, many of them intentionally drive faster to scare the pedestrians off the crossings as their vehicles are coming through. Some drivers even press the horn in order to frighten people wanting to cross.

Near my home on Taikoo Shing Road outside the office building One Island East, most vehicles (especially trucks and vans) go at speeds in excess of 40km/h and ignore those people who are waiting to cross the road at the zebra crossing.

I often see young children, the elderly, or foreigners who are new to Hong Kong step on the zebra crossings, presuming the vehicles must give way to them.

I have seen near-accidents as vehicles approached the crossing at high speed.

Drivers then have to brake suddenly to avoid hitting those people who have just stepped onto the road unaware of the reckless behaviour of motorists.

The government must impose regulations to make it a requirement that all vehicles must slow down to 10km/h within 20 metres of a zebra crossing.

Road signs must be put in place which make it clear that motorists must abide by this rule and reduce speed. Cameras could be installed to identify those vehicles that ignore this regulation.

In the long run, the government needs to cultivate a safety mentality in all the city's drivers, so that they recognise the importance of ensuring the safety of pedestrians.

Y. C. Lee, Quarry Bay

Fare hike will add to our problems

I appreciate that, these days, the price of virtually everything is rising.

If you are in a shopping mall and take a look at the price tag of something you would like to buy, it illustrates the problems we are all having with the rate of inflation.

Everything is getting more expensive, including daily necessities such as food and clothes. Not only are small firms raising prices, but even large companies like the MTR Corporation are following suit ('MTR fares poised to increase by 5.4pc in June', March 27).

This decision will cause a lot of problems for some people.

I agree with community groups that have said that it would place a serious financial burden on commuters.

Millions of people travel by MTR every day to work and study and their transport costs are a major expense for them.

If the price of commuting on the MTR network goes up, these costs will make up an even larger proportion of their spending. They will have to adjust their budgets and spend less on other daily necessities.

When the MTR increases fares, it has a major effect on the population of Hong Kong. In many cases, salary rises have not matched increases in the rate of inflation, and so the fare hike rubs salt in the wounds.

There are concessionary fares available for people over 65 and for the disabled, but most passengers do not fall into either category. The concessionary fare mechanism only helps a minority of passengers and is clearly inadequate.

I understand the MTR faces higher operating costs and wants to maintain profits, but it should not pass those costs onto passengers. This damages its public image. It should instead find ways to cut expenditure. For example, it could introduce energy-saving measures, such as switching off lights in parts of the stations during off-peak hours. This would also be helpful to the environment.

The MTR should recognise its corporate social responsibility.

Janet Wong Hung-wa, Ma On Shan

Take away the kuk's voting rights

I refer to the report on the start of the crackdown on illegal structures ('Quiet start to building crackdown', April 2).

Why do some people talk only about village houses? Has anyone visited, for example, Marina Cove or similar projects? And, by the way, what progress has Henry Tang Ying-yen made with contractors regarding the filling in of his unauthorised cellar?

In the report, there was also talk about giving people government loans to demolish an illegal structure or be rehoused.

Both ideas are ridiculous. If they had the money to build it, they have the money to demolish it. And why rehouse them?

Many families live in much smaller places than some villagers. That these villagers think that the space they are legally allowed is not sufficient for them is their problem and should not be made the taxpayers' problem.

The fact that the Heung Yee Kuk thinks it is above the law is for me more than enough reason to take away its voting powers in the legislative process.

All people should be equal before the law, whether they are a judge's relative, a speeding tycoon or a villager.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay

Not enough time to study new subject

Being a candidate in the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams, I do feel a bit like a guinea pig. Also, I definitely feel the pressure caused by Hong Kong's exam-orientated education system.

Though the new system emphasises the importance of critical thinking and creativity, there is no time for classroom debate, nor outdoor trips.

Taking the new core subject liberal studies as an example, teachers are required to cover six modules and a project.

They simply do not have enough time, so teachers end up spoon-feeding pupils information from books and from the news.

Students are basically fed condensed information without having the time to filter it.

Many of the diploma exam candidates also attend after-school revision classes. Teachers provide additional classes to help pupils become more familiar with the new system.

But these additional classes leave youngsters feeling overwhelmed with the tasks they face.

I hope that, in future, teachers will be able to allow students more space to manage their own exploration and find their own resources. In this way, the knowledge they acquire would be more deep-rooted, and they will be better able to express their own opinions.

Braundt Lau, Tai Po