Doctor's resourceful measures saved women in Sheung Wan hospital
Dr Osler Thomas ('War hero, who survived pit of corpses, dies', November 15) was appointed medical superintendent of an institution (now upgraded to a hospital) located in Sandy Bay for convalescing patients in 1967.
I had the honour of getting to know him as a colleague in the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals.
I am a former principal secretary to the board of the group. I learned of a story about him, which seems to have remained untold, regarding his heroism during a brief period before his escape from occupied Hong Kong. He joined the medical team at the Tung Wah Hospital in Sheung Wan.
At the time it was overcrowded because the Tung Wah directors managed, on humanitarian grounds, to persuade the Japanese military authority to grant a steady ration of rice to Tung Wah as the only significant charity still remaining to serve the sick and the starving.
Dr Thomas had the foresight to ensure that vulnerable females in Tung Wah's care were suitably disguised as patients with infectious or contagious diseases. Soot was often used as make-up.
Dr Thomas was often beaten up by unruly soldiers looking for 'flower girls' among those staying at Tung Wah.
He kept insisting the women were all patients who could only be touched at the soldiers' own risk, a risk which none of the soldiers dared to take.
Tony Ngan, Causeway Bay
Light-bulb initiatives have failed in Britain
In Britain, energy-saving light bulbs go on sale at low prices every few months.
Each bulb can cost as little as HK$3, whereas the normal price is about HK$30. This is an initiative that was launched by the government in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.
On October 9, Tesco supermarket had a promotion with five bulbs for ?1 (HK$12.90). But offering the bulbs is not a real or effective way to carry out carbon reduction involving the general public. I saw many lights remained unsold, even with this substantial reduction.
If this substantial discount had applied to food items, they would have been snatched up straight away. Shoppers did not appear to be interested in the special offer because they did not seem to appreciate the significance of using energy-saving lights. They just wondered why this sale was on and that maybe these bulbs were on sale because they were inferior.
These lights were given away free in April by the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's with copies of the Daily Mirror newspaper. Again, people ignored the offer.
In Hong Kong, the government should learn from these experiences.
There must be some sort of charge, or some sort of promotion, with people getting the energy-saving lights in exchange for something else. This might help them appreciate the importance of these lights and what they mean in terms of the environment. The message does not get across if they are offered free of charge.
The best campaigns are the ones that help to educate people. They need to appreciate that these energy-saving light bulbs are important to the environment.
Henry Yau, London
Scrap hare-brained voucher scheme
I have a question for Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah about the light-bulb cash-coupon scheme.
This question has not been asked by critics of the ill-considered scheme. How can the Environment Bureau prevent abuse of the proposed scheme by a person who sells the HK$100 coupon for, say, HK$80 or HK$90 to a retailer of electrical appliances? The person could then use the money for whatever purpose and the retailer could redeem the coupon for HK$100 and earn a handsome profit without selling anything.
Any measures to prevent such abuse will certainly cause annoyance to all parties concerned and incur high administrative costs.
The proposed light-bulb scheme speaks volumes about the wisdom (or the lack of it) and ability (or inability) of those who initiated the idea and who endorsed its inclusion in the policy address.
The best way forward for our government officials is to come out of their ivory towers and scrap the hare-brained scheme.
Lai Shiu-bor, Chai Wan
Little hope for success in climate change talks
Powerful forces are directing the richest state on earth. The United States has in the past been the greatest CO2 polluter, with one of the highest per capita CO2 emission figures.
It will successfully choke probably the most important assembly ever held - the UN's conference on climate change, to be held in Copenhagen next month.
Despite the stance he has taken, US President Barack Obama will be undermined. An avaricious US Congress, together with extremely powerful 'dirty energy' and military lobbies, will succeed in emptying the conference of any real meaning, bringing the poorest countries over the brink of climatic catastrophe.
In this context, let us be very clear that US military expenses represent at least 42 per cent of the world's military spending.
This then has been the contribution by the US towards tackling the global warming crisis.
All developing countries and those facing the greatest threat from climate change should unite in declaring this as absolutely unacceptable.
Lenka Baumann, Maya Tournier, Brno, Czech Republic
I really sympathise with the overworked doctors in our public hospitals. Given the demands that are placed on those hospitals, there is no easy way to cut their working hours.
I think one reason we have this problem is that we are not producing a sufficient number of medical graduates from our universities.
Surely it would be possible to increase the quota of undergraduates in our medical faculties and do so without lowering the academic proficiency of the students.
Johnny Chiu Shun-hang, Sha Tin
It is a shame that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung turned down invitations to participate in the gay pride march on November 1.
But I am more disappointed tourism authorities did not promote the event.
Other cities around the world are realising that the pink credit card is all the more valuable during tough economic times.
It was reported in the Los Angeles Times in November that even during an economic slump, 'the gay and lesbian tourists tend to wield more disposable income and are more likely to spend on travel and leisure than heterosexual tourists'.
Along with finance, trade and professional services, tourism is one of Hong Kong's four economic pillars. Perhaps this pillar should be tinted pink.
Gregg Schroeder, Wan Chai