Benjamin Siu, 16 St Joseph's College Unfortunately, no. A western doctor prescribes medicine which is accepted all over the world. This is, sadly, not the case with Chinese medical practitioners. Chinese medicine has a history of nearly 5,000 years, but I have yet to see an organised study of it. This is one of the main reasons why it is difficult to justify the legal recognition of Chinese herbalists. There are reports that Chinese medicine is being used to cure serious diseases, leaving western physicians puzzled. Tree roots can stem the growth of cancer cells, and even drinking Chinese tea helps patients who are suffering from chronic diseases, they say. But this has not sparked any interest in making a detailed study of Chinese herbs and other remedies. Instead, greedy merchants market untested 'wonder medicines' to desperate patients. So not many people have confidence in Chinese herbalists. Besides, there are no regulations governing Chinese medicine practitioners. While leading universities in Hong Kong offer Chinese medicine courses, these graduates are not the only people who are claiming to be 'experts' in their field. Many simply have a certificate to show that they studied acupuncture or other techniques a few decades ago. Although I wish to see Chinese medicine spread around the world, I am against the legal recognition of Chinese herbalists. This should be done only after Chinese herbs have been classified into different branches of study, and I have yet to see any light at the end of this tunnel. Jocelyn Heng, 15 Maryknoll Convent School Yes, because Chinese herbalists contribute as much to medical development as western doctors. Traditional Chinese methods have been used for the past 5,000 years, and show no signs of dying out. If herbs were ineffective, would they still remain so popular today, when people could easily choose an alternative treatment? Mystery surrounds Chinese medicine so people have a misconception that the herbs are unreliable and cannot be scientifically analysed. Actually, many herbs contain ingredients that are used in western medicine and dietary supplements. It is foolish to reject a powder with 'unknown properties', while embracing the same chemical in the form of a capsule. Some may argue that there are problems in the industry, because people sell fake healing potions and herbs that could affect our health. With legal acknowledgement, the government can monitor Chinese medical practitioners to ensure a quality service. This also creates an incentive for more tertiary institutions to offer courses in Chinese medicine, as well as to expand research and development. Practitioners of western medicine realise the importance of Chinese herbs, and are collaborating with their traditional counterparts, exchanging ideas on how to tackle various ailments. Some hospitals even offer qigong classes as part of their community health programmes. This proves that Chinese medicine should continue to play a valuable role in society and herbalists deserve legal recognition.