Care groups for terminally ill patients have called for a halt to the increasingly popular public discussion on euthanasia after a high-profile appeal by quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun for it to be legalised. The coalition, which is launching an anti-euthanasia campaign, also urged the government to add resources to hospice care. In a joint declaration released yesterday, the groups warned that allowing euthanasia could become an excuse for the government not to increase services to chronically ill and vulnerable groups. 'We should not confuse euthanasia as a request for death, but often it is a request for relief of pain and suffering,' said Kwan Kam-fan, executive director of Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care, which is leading the campaign. 'We agree that a patient has the right to refuse futile life-sustaining treatment,' Mr Kwan said. 'However, the public should be clear that refusal of futile life-sustaining treatment implies the acceptance of the fact that the human is mortal. It has nothing to do with euthanasia.' The Medical Council, which opposes euthanasia, defines it as 'direct intentional killing of a patient as part of the medical care being offered'. 'Voluntary euthanasia' is legal only in Belgium and the Netherlands. Public interest in euthanasia rose recently after Mr Tang, 37, urged the government to look into it at a seminar at last week's book fair, at which he also released I Want Euthanasia, his book on his request to end his life. Mr Tang, also known as 'Bun Tsai', also called on lawmakers to discuss the issue. Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk agreed there was a need to discuss the issue. Mr Tang is expected to discuss the matter on the Civic Party online radio programme on Monday. Doris Tse Man-wah, council member from the Society of Palliative Medicine, said terminally ill patients may be so depressed they request euthanasia, but it would be the wrong decision. Citing the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been practised for three decades, she said: 'It seems they have kept making it easier for euthanasia and now it has been extended to teenagers, and to disabled babies who cannot voice [consent].' Dr Tse - also a senior figure at the departments of medicine and geriatrics, and the intensive-care unit of Caritas Medical Centre - said hospice care should be given higher priority. The coalition is planning a public forum next month. Mr Tang said yesterday that opposing views were welcome as they showed there was concern. 'I do not feel surprised,' he said. 'If a public debate is aroused, I think it is a good chance for our government to know about the intention of the public. I am willing to express my points at any time.' He said legalising euthanasia would not mean a lack of respect for life. But Sam Lee Yuen-tai, who became quadriplegic after an accident 20 years ago, said: 'Euthanasia is a path to death. What we want is to choose to live.' Commenting on Mr Tang's appeal, he said: 'I believe Bun Tsai will not want to die now he sees so many people supporting him.'