Letters to the Editor, January 15, 2014
Hospital staff left out of discussion
Quality improvement in health care, an aspect of patient safety, is a subject of importance to all of us.
It is a central tenet of patient safety that all health care staff should be involved in improving the system.
This reflects the complexity of most health care systems, which makes it impossible for any single person or group to have both the necessary breadth and depth of understanding of each part of the system.
It is therefore regrettable that the audit report into post-operative mortality in public hospitals will not be made available to health care staff working in these hospitals until a Hospital Authority forum on February 18, despite the fact that senior authority officials are already discussing the results with the media. The definition of "forum" is a meeting at which views on a particular issue can be exchanged.
However, the timing of the release of the report excludes the possibility of meaningful exchange.
It would be useful if the Hospital Authority's senior managers could explain the reason for not releasing the report until the forum. Otherwise, the timing gives the impression of a culture of arrogance amongst senior management with the forum being arranged not to exchange views but to hand down views from on high.
Charles Gomersall, Sai Kung
Country parks are far more important
I read with some amusement, the report ("Tearing up Fanling will 'destroy unique asset'", January 7) regarding the Hong Kong Golf Club's courses at Fanling.
In it, the club president, Marvin Cheung Kin-tung waxes lyrical about the 100-year-old course, with its pavilions and heritage trees, the turf and the greens.
It seems rezoning the area would simply be unacceptable to him and, presumably, the 2,510 members who are deemed worthy or wealthy enough to meander amongst these Elysian fields.
If, and it's a big if, Hong Kong is suffering from a housing shortage, then the decision whether to build on the golf course or the country parks, which are enjoyed by countless thousands, is a no-brainer.
The golf course goes and if it cannot simply be built anywhere else, Mr Cheung can always book a round at Kau Sai Chau, which has served the public well.
Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui
Level of carbon dioxide is not bad
I refer to the letter by Patrick C. Lui ("Astounding to deny that climate change is caused by humans", January 3).
Climate change has unfortunately been politicised and views polarised by many, including the United Nations and governments.
At the outset, I agree that human activities influence climate through the generation of heat, mainly in cities, but this is minor in comparison to natural variability.
Lee Sai-ming of the Hong Kong Observatory ("Most of globe experienced warming", December 24) accuses deniers of focusing on short-term fluctuations because it is easy to cherry-pick data they want.
However, he did the same thing by referring to a study on the Observatory's blog. The deniers also use long-term records, as when they used the unarguable existence of the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period to discredit the alarmists' imaginary claim of ever-increasing temperatures.
Anthropogenic global warming hysteria has been spreading like wildfire through the media.
It is up to the deniers to say that the current carbon dioxide level is not bad.
Anthropogenic carbon dioxide levels are less important in driving climate change compared to the greenhouse effect of clouds and water vapour.
There is no correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature, let alone a demonstrated causal relationship. This is supported by the fact that the steadily rising level of carbon dioxide, to the current level of just over 0.04 per cent, does not correlate with temperature trends. There has been no global warming for 17 years (admitted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest summary report), despite ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide.
The Antarctic ice core records indicate that temperature rise preceded carbon dioxide by about 800 years. So why waste efforts on reducing the carbon footprint?
I look forward to a more constructive scientific debate on the subject.
Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam
Impose vehicle charge to cut air pollution
As a Hongkonger, I find it very disappointing that the air pollution in the city is reaching alarming levels.
This pollution exacerbates the conditions of people who have respiratory illnesses.
It also affects tourists whose views of the city's skyline are blocked out by smog.
It is a shame that many of them leave Hong Kong thinking it is just dirty and polluted when it is actually an amazing city with unique attractions.
Cars are a main contributor to air pollution and I think the government should limit driving in the most congested urban areas.
It should impose a charge for those who want to bring their vehicles into those areas.
More must be invested in programmes to replace older buses with newer, energy-efficient models.
Augustin Tsang, Discovery Bay
Smartphones have serious downside
Nowadays it appears as if some children are almost physically attached to their smartphones.
They appear to be permanently logged on to the internet, constantly texting and looking at other people's messages or images on sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
They share so much in the virtual world, but not in the real one. It is difficult to get them to engage in even a five-minute conversation. On the internet, they respond to something by simply clicking the "like" function. Also, although they may communicate with friends, they are not having proper conversations.
For such children, there is far less face-to-face communication. I have even heard of a case in which parents have to text their children to call them for dinner.
It worries me that parents and children will grow further apart as many parents are not so connected to the internet.
Parents need to call a halt to the process where smartphones are in effect poisoning their children.
They need to force them to take breaks from the phones, preferably long ones, and learn to communicate in the real world.
Janice Tung, Kwai Chung
Parents can be important role models
The way to stop children becoming addicted to smartphones is for parents to act as role models.
If their mothers and fathers are spending far too much time on devices such as mobiles then this sends the wrong message to the children who will naturally follow suit.
But, if they set the right example, family members will spend more time talking to each other, to friends and to other people within their community. Parents just have to show the way by spending a few hours away from mobiles.
It is not about getting children to stop using them, but to teach them about the importance of striking a balance.
Crystal Wan, Kowloon City