More than two years after the Sars outbreak, Hong Kong remains sensitive to developments that strike a chord in the collective memory of the crisis. Last week, unconfirmed press reports that said former health minister Yeoh Eng-kiong would receive the Golden Bauhinia in the awards to mark the anniversary of the handover caused dismay among some families of Sars victims. Dr Yeoh was at the centre of a controversy over the government's handling, or mishandling, of the outbreak. He tendered his resignation last year in the hope that that would acknowledge the pain of Sars-affected families. Last week also saw confirmation that another key figure in the Sars crisis, Hospital Authority chief executive William Ho Shiu-wei, would step down after his contract expires in September. The Chinese-language Ming Pao headlined the report: 'All anti-Sars leaders gone.' The Oriental Daily News said: 'Last to go, Ho closes the Sars chapter.' Reports cited the departure of Dr Yeoh, former Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung, its former director Ko Wing-man, former director of health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun and former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa since last year. Given that he was the frontline general in the battle against Sars, the departure of Dr Ho from the top post would in a sense put an end to the saga. At a deeper level, the change at the helm of the authority following the resignation of Dr Yeoh comes at a time when a rethink of a range of long-standing issues relating to the provision of health services is soon to be put on the agenda. The Health and Welfare Bureau plans to issue a consultation paper on health-care financing this year - in yet another attempt to resolve an issue long overdue for a solution. First raised in the 1980s, the problem of health-care financing has grown more acute as the problem of an ageing population has worsened and the demand for and expectations of medical services have soared. The advance of technology has pushed up the cost. The Hospital Authority has become a victim of its success amid a culture of high-quality, customer-oriented service. Last month, Dr Ho warned the authority faced an accumulated deficit of $7.3 billion in four years. With the authority under increasing financial pressure, there have been growing concerns about the sustainability and quality of its services. Doctors have complained of heavy workloads. Disparities in the salaries of doctors employed on different terms has taken its toll on morale. Meanwhile, private hospitals have complained they can barely survive given the dominant role of the Hospital Authority in service provision. After years of debate, the list of symptoms of the illness afflicting Hong Kong's health sector is hardly new. Deciding what to prescribe to cure the chronic problems and how to administer it do not seem to be a priority for the government. The issue of health-care financing has not figured prominently in the election platform of new chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Now that Beijing has spoken highly of the importance of social harmony, there are good reasons to believe he will exercise caution in handling such a potentially divisive issue as health-care financing. That being said, he will also be mindful of his pledge to provide strong government that can fight tough battles and make hard decisions when need be. With the Hospital Authority operating as an independent statutory body, its power play with the health minister and the relevant bureau has been a long-standing topic for speculation. Like the Sars crisis, the drama surrounding Dr Ho, Dr Chow and Dr Yeoh will come to an end with the imminent change of leadership. Hopes will be high that leaders of the Tsang administration and the Hospital Authority are able to continue to provide quality services while acting as agents of change to a viable financing model.