Letters to the Editor, July 10, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 4:01am

Long wait for cataract op unacceptable

It sometimes takes misfortune close to home to impress upon us the prevalence of wider misfortunes.

A close family member has recently been diagnosed with cataracts, the irreversible clouding of the eye lens.

I was stunned to learn that in Hong Kong, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, the average public hospital waiting time for a cataract operation is over three years, with waiting times over five years quite common.

This, remember, is a condition that can be rectified with an operation lasting about half an hour, with about a 99 per cent success rate.

Post-operative care is straightforward and there is usually no further operation required. This is an operation that literally allows the blind to see again.

I was even more astounded when I found out that Britain's creaky, understaffed, over-burdened National Health Service has an average cataract operation waiting time of a little over two months. Two months versus three years. How is this possible?

A few billion dollars targeted at those who cannot afford private care would essentially eliminate the scourge of cataract-induced blindness in Hong Kong for literally tens of thousands of low-income middle-aged and elderly people.

This money is a fraction of that available for the West Kowloon arts hub. Sadly, many of those on public hospital waiting lists will never be able to see the activities to be held there.

An overused word in comments on some aspects of Hong Kong is "disgrace", but if there was any situation which truly warranted this appellation, it is cataract care in Hong Kong.

David Ollerearnshaw, Yuen Long


Parents fail to teach good manners

In some societies, where considerate behaviour towards others and good manners are highly valued, it's the norm for children to offer their seat to adults on public transport and for lift doors to be held open for others to be able to enter.

Saying please and thank you is automatic. Motorists politely give way to allow other drivers to join traffic lanes and slow down for cars overtaking.

However, in vibrant, beautiful Hong Kong, many people seem to happily embrace a selfish "me-first" attitude.

Children are encouraged to occupy train and bus seats while adults stand, lift doors are closed on strangers through lack of patience to wait, and motorists prefer to risk damage to their vehicle rather than give way.

How can we expect parents to be able to teach good manners to their children if they have none themselves? Even if schools try to teach pupils basic manners, it's an uphill battle without parental support.

Supposedly educated students from the Academy for Performing Arts recently showed themselves up to be rude and insolent by their childish and disrespectful antics in front of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying during their graduation ceremony.

It's not pleasant to be labelled a mannerless society, but that is what Hong Kong is fast becoming. Chris Stubbs ("Mannerless generation in motion", June 30) is right; this is a worrying trend, but those causing it appear completely oblivious of the consequences.

If this continues, society as a whole will eventually suffer as a result of such bad parenting, and it will be too late for the overly indulgent to repent when they find themselves elderly and standing on public transport while able-bodied youngsters happily sit and ignore them.

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin


HK will be fine while China remains stable

I must salute Alex Lo for expressing views which I share in his columns ("I just can't help sittin' on the fence", July 4 and "Where were my neighbours on July 1?" July 5).

Recently, we have had the establishment of Occupy Central, the unsightly behaviour of some graduates at the Academy for Performing Arts graduation ceremony and the widely different estimates of the number of people who marched on July 1.

I belong to the old school. I believe that, as long as China is stable, Hong Kong will be OK.

I also believe in respect for your elders. I am in my late 70s but, still, I would offer the priority seat on buses to those who are older than me. And I believe in the teachings of Confucius and Mencius.

G. Chan, Mid-Levels


Frustrating experience with Now TV

I have been a subscriber to Now TV for several years.

On average, about once a month, the reception on several channels, not all, disappears. While that is annoying enough in itself, the torture one has to go through to speak to Now's telephone support personnel drives one to distraction.

Typically, it takes 30 to 40 minutes to have the issue addressed.

Normally, it takes three attempts to get connected, often being cut off when finally somebody answers the phone.

In the latest incident, I was cut off on the first call.

During my second call, some young woman told me that my ID information was incorrect and I could not be identified and she asked me to go and look for a bill to give her an account number.

When I went to find the file, I got cut off.

My next attempt was answered by a young man who keyed in the same information previously given and located my account immediately. He was very responsive and efficient but could not help to get the picture back, arranging to send, yet again, a technician to my house. This meant that I would have to wait for up to three hours for the technician.

I would like to ask the chairman of Now TV how much it costs to man these support lines 24 hours a day and how much it costs to constantly send out technicians to fix problems, and how much it costs, as is the case on most occasions, to change the decoder or modem for a new one. Surely it would be cheaper for the company, and more profitable for the shareholders, to invest in better quality, more reliable equipment.

They may even have more satisfied customers, but of course that is not a concern for the duopolies in this city, whether they be cable companies or supermarkets.

Michael Jenkins, Central


Obama forced to rethink key policies

Many Americans felt that the election of Barack Obama as president was a momentous event, with his promises to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and establish a decent health-care plan for the country's unprivileged.

But because of the US political system, his efforts to get through these changes have been obstructed at almost every turn by the Republicans in Congress. This has forced him to delay or water down policies such as "Obamacare".

Perhaps it is just a question of him having to accept political reality, just as John F. Kennedy was forced to do.

Frank G. Sterle, Jnr, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada


Repeating bizarre view on marriage

There was something oddly familiar about Paul Kokoski's letter ("Court's ruling undermines marriage", July 1).

Essentially, it was a repeat of his arguments in these columns in 2010.

In his latest letter, he once again states that marriage is a child-centred institution and shouldn't be redefined as a "temporary commitment which prioritises the 'romantic' happiness of adults over building a loving, lasting family".

I responded to him in 2010 and I respond to him again now to ask the same basic question: does he therefore support banning old couples, barren women, impotent men, and couples who don't want children, from getting married?

Will Yip, Sheung Wan