In the past decade, Yuen Long has seen an explosion in population.
One reason for this is the completion of the MTR's West Rail line. The line has enabled people to go to and from Yuen Long with ease. This, in turn, has allowed people to capitalise on the relatively low property prices there. This area is currently a magnet for both new and experienced homebuyers.
As a result, a multitude of residential buildings have been built. However, medical facilities have been unable to keep pace with the mounting population. For instance, the number of clinics in Yuen Long has remained largely unchanged in the past 10 years. This poses a danger to our well-being. In the past, if anyone became sick they went into a clinic expecting a reasonable queue of about three or four patients; today when someone walks into a clinic, the queue is about 10 long.
For people who are sick and find it difficult to muster the energy to get out of the house to seek relief, such a wait is unacceptable. There are several reasons for the static nature of clinic numbers here. The first is that the rent for commercial units is spiralling out of control. The second, which is the crux of the problem, is that no commercial buildings have been erected in the past decade.
This is why landowners keep raising rents; this is why doctors are unable to open businesses here. Space here is at a premium. This is the reason sick people have to wait an unduly long period of time to consult a doctor.
What if the problem were more serious, such as a toothache, for example? From my experience, I can tell you that, thanks to the terrible ratio of dentists to patients, an appointment to deal with a toothache in Yuen Long can take upwards of a month.
For people who are suffering, this wait is seemingly interminable torture. It is paramount that the government approve the construction of new commercial buildings to curb skyrocketing rents.
From a health perspective, it is infinitely more important to do so because residents are in dire need of the facilities in support of their health. Entrepreneurs may choose to delay or stop their business ventures, but sick people - especially those who are in pain from ailments such as toothaches - cannot take a break from their discomfort.
Every moment the government procrastinates in erecting more commercial buildings is tantamount to causing residents additional suffering.
Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long