Public hospital queue-jumping claims need investigation

The public is entitled to question DAB former chairman Tam Yiu-chung was allegedly given preferential treatment by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 June, 2016, 12:40am

Hong Kong prides itself as a fair and equal society. From riding the bus to posting a letter, everyone stays in line to be served. No one is expected to get any privilege because of his or her wealth and power.

The public is therefore entitled to question why DAB former chairman Tam Yiu-chung has allegedly been given preferential treatment by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The pro-Beijing lawmaker was said to be escalated to the first operation slot on Tuesday to have a polyp removed from his ear. He and wife were also permitted to use the staff entrance, which is reserved for personnel allowed in a sterile environment. The allegations first surfaced in a Facebook post. But in the age of the internet, nothing can be kept secret. The Hospital Authority swiftly apologised in a statement after the allegations had been picked up by the news media.

DAB lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung apologises again for receiving VIP treatment at hospital

Tam sought to distance himself from the saga initially, saying the doctor offered him an early slot as he knew that he was very busy. But he later apologised for causing inconvenience to those concerned in the incident; but would not comment on how he had apparently jumped the surgery queue, pending the authority’s investigation.

There are those who questioned why a lawmaker with a monthly salary of over HK$93,000 and an annual medical allowance of HK$32,400 will turn to public hospital for treatment. Given the heavy caseloads of public hospitals, the advancement for him to receive treatment is other patients’ delay. It is disturbing to learn that the queuing system can be tampered with in such a way. The authority needs to investigate thoroughly and hold the responsible accountable.

There’s no place for VIP treatment at Hong Kong’s public hospitals

The question is not just whether politicians have abused power for gains. Time and again, the public has shown zero tolerance for the rich and powerful being given preferential treatment. The latest incident is a reminder to Tam and other public figures that not only should they refrain from getting privilege, they should stay vigilant and avoid such perception.