Letters to the Editor, January 16, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 2:34am

Think beyond city's pillar industries

Last month, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah warned against "blindly" pursuing new sectors.

He defended the city's pillar industries - finance, logistics and trade, tourism and professional services.

I disagree with the comments regarding pursuit of new sectors.

If you look at the history of Hong Kong, it began as a fishing village. It then developed into an industrial city and, after many of the factories moved north, it emerged to become an international financial centre. These changes were achieved because of a willingness to change and pursue new sectors.

Developing a new industry can a be a good thing. It is a bit like natural selection in biology, which provides variations that enhance the survival of the species.

As a finance centre, the emphasis is on economics. But if there was a serious financial downturn, the city would suffer. If there was no willingness to adapt and change, any recovery would be very slow indeed.

Therefore, the government always has to be ready to explore new options as a kind of back-up.

It could offer greater diversity in the jobs market, enabling people to take up professions which were outside the financial sector.

Areas such as the arts are often ignored in this society. This can lead to talented people moving abroad to find suitable work.

Developing new sectors and having greater diversity in the jobs market can enhance our reputation as an international city.

Ho Chien-chang, Sha Tin


Transgender community needs support

Dr Albert Yuen Wai-cheung [chief of service at Ruttonjee Hospital's department of surgery] must be commended on his efforts to provide surgical support for the transgender community in Hong Kong.

The small annual number of procedures performed does not, however, reflect the actual need. A recent open forum hosted at the Prince of Wales Hospital discussed the best practice guidelines for the holistic care of transgender patients.

The principal speaker at the forum was Professor Stan Monstrey, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Ghent in Belgium and ex-president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

What emerged from the forum, which was well attended by members of the transgender community, is that the need for support, including surgery, far exceeds the current service provision.

In addition, the current service does not reflect international best practice guidelines; namely a multidisciplinary, multi-specialty centre.

There is great concern in the transgender community about the approaching retirement of Dr Yuen.

It would be most unfortunate if his dedicated work to sow the seeds of a service was not allowed to bear fruit.

This would mean developing the service in Hong Kong according to international best practice guidelines and providing the transsexual community in Hong Kong with the holistic care they deserve.

Professor Andrew Burd, chief of division of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital


Set up network of community pharmacies

The report about some residents in homes for the elderly being given the wrong dosages of medication raises serious issues ("Drug danger in elderly care homes", January 2).

Old people can be especially vulnerable if they are already ill and have low resistance to disease. The wrong dosage could prove fatal.

The problem in these homes is exacerbated by the fact that, according to one lawmaker, "many health workers are unskilled and illiterate".

This is clearly not acceptable, given that these elderly people will need different kinds of medication for a variety of ailments.

I agree with those who have argued that we can get round the problem if the government were to establish more community pharmacies.

Also, officials must ensure that they are manned by properly qualified people who are part of a centralised dispensing system.

This is the best way to ensure that the elderly people in these homes are given the proper protection.

With a network of community pharmacies, mistakes are far less likely to occur and old folk will not be given the wrong medication.

Carol Li Wing-sum, Ma On Shan


Stigma still attached to mental illness

We refer to the letter from Teresa Fung Wing-man ("Increase funding on mental health", January 10).

While we agree that it is not unrealistic for society to work together and help bring the city's suicide rate down, it is also crucially important to bring down barriers regarding mental health, and develop public education that can help inform citizens about ways of coping with psychological problems.

Global studies have found that many people with mental health problems are reluctant to seek professional help.

Even if mental health services are available, the situation will not improve if patients do not choose to seek treatment. Educating the public on mental health and making efforts to take away the stigma associated with it can help to cultivate greater acceptance towards mental illness among citizens.

But simply increasing this type of public education, in terms of quantity and funding, is not sufficient.

It is more important to develop better public education content that can effectively encourage people to seek help.

We are working on a health communication project that aims to build better media content encouraging people with depression to get help.

From our findings so far, we have discovered that many Hong Kong people have a limited understanding of treatment for depression and the treatment options that are available.

We think that a holistic approach to mental health education is necessary, instead of just overly promoting pharmacological medication.

Also, the support and understanding of family and friends are essential factors in encouraging these people to get the help they need.

A carefully designed media campaign can really encourage more people in Hong Kong with depression to seek assistance to deal with their condition.

Alison Hui, K.W. Fu, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, University of Hong Kong


Three days not enough for new fathers

I think the government should grant five-day paternity leave for all new fathers.

A three-day leave period is simply not enough.

Having a newborn is a tremendous change in your life and not only affects the mother physically, but both parents psychologically.

Thus, in addition to providing the father with a chance to take care of his family, the paternity leave also gives him the opportunity to adapt to these major changes.

Every parent should be granted enough time to make the necessary adjustments.

If not, they might not be able to concentrate at work, and this would lower their level of productivity, which would obviously not be good for Hong Kong's economy.

Leung Ka-yan, Ma On Shan