Letters to the Editor, October 30, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 3:57pm

Dementia victims forgotten

Last month families gathered together for the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival. It is an important time for Chinese families. They have dinner and enjoy watching the full moon.

However, many elderly relatives were unable to enjoy the festivities because they suffer from dementia.

This is a growing problem in Hong Kong, with its ageing population, and yet the government appears to have turned a blind eye to it.

One expert report predicts that the percentage of the population estimated to have dementia will rise to 3.59 per cent in Hong Kong in 2050.

The government needs to act now and provide more subsidies. Hong Kong has an estimated 80,000 people with dementia, but only 2,000 receive government support services. One problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of day-care facilities.

Elderly people with dementia cannot be left alone.

Obviously they can no longer work and some do not have substantial savings and cannot afford high fees for day-care facilities.

Some may be single elderly with no family support, or it may be that their children have left Hong Kong or simply do not keep in touch. I believe they are at greater risk of suffering from dementia and need day-care help once they have been diagnosed.

The government must provide a subvention to pay for elderly care services.

It also needs to coordinate with the relevant NGOs to organise cognitive exercises such as simple mathematics, mahjong or skills-learning courses. These can help slow down the rate of mental deterioration.

It also needs to conduct household surveys to get a more accurate picture of the rate of dementia in Hong Kong.

Love and affection from family members is the most important form of help for patients with dementia.

Family members need to spend as much time with relatives who have the disease and talk to them as often as possible. This form of human contact can slow the decline.

Vivian Lo, Tseung Kwan O


Xi dialogue key step on human rights

As a fairly regular visitor to Hong Kong during the past 20 years, to visit our son, I have enjoyed reading the South China Morning Post for a news and opinion perspective independent of the UK media. It has been particularly interesting to read about the visit of Xi Jinping and the comments made by your journalists and on the Letters page.

I expect Brian Stuckey, of Denver, Colorado ("Britain turning a blind eye to abuses", October 27) sees things from the US perspective, which appears to find a China-UK link politically undesirable. Indeed, there are many of us in the UK who feel equally strongly about human rights issues, not only in China but also worldwide. I could go on about Guantanamo Bay here.

However, as one of your correspondents has pointed out, there is a pragmatic as well as a political side to Xi's visit. Yes, the UK appears to have kowtowed to China's financial strength (and few of us in the UK endorse such an attitude) but who knows what was discussed in private?

There can be no influence without communication and communication has to start with common ground. We have seen the latter with the visit and in my opinion the former will increase as time goes by.

Dr Russell Steele, Exeter, Devon, UK


Britain's HK support welcomed

There was extensive coverage of President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain.

All aspects of the visit were covered, including a trip to the stadium of English Premier League team Manchester City. However, I think Hong Kong citizens would have been most interested in comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron and by Queen Elizabeth.

Cameron is reported to have said to Xi that he would like a free election for chief executive ("Scrap the vetting and just let HK choose its own leader: Cameron", October 24).

During her speech at a banquet in honour of Xi at Buckingham Palace, the Queen praised "one country, two systems".

After Cameron's comments, Beijing warned the UK not to interfere in China's internal affairs. I am glad Britain has shown its support of Hong Kong. I don't know if it will help our situation, but I hope it does.

Myron Eng Man-him, Sau Mau Ping


Homeless shelter plan misguided

I refer to the letters by Sarah Leung ("Open sport centres for homeless", October 20) and Yeung King-fan ("Secure place to rest for homeless", October 28).

There is no doubt that we cannot underestimate the gravity of the problem of street sleepers in Hong Kong. However, I do not agree with your correspondents' proposal to open sports centres for them at night.

Opening these buildings overnight will involve government expenditure. Electricity must be kept on and in the summer, that means air conditioners. Also, a lot of water will be used as the homeless people take showers.

Given that there are 101 sports centres in Hong Kong, these costs will not be low.

There is also the hygiene issue which was raised by Yeung. This would be of concern as a frequent user of the facilities at these sports centres.

It would be very difficult to ensure that the centres could be opened in the morning in a clean condition after being used as dormitories overnight.

Cleaners would not be given much time to ensure the centres were in a condition to make them suitable for the public.

Finally, the doors of these buildings would presumably stay open so homeless people could come in and I think that raises security issues.

The government could not possibly hire a security guard for sports centres if all of them were open overnight. This idea is just not practical.

Au Kit-yan, Kowloon Tong


Roadworks delay needs explaining

Over the past few months, a portion of Tsing Yi Road leading to Ching Hong Road in Tsing Yi has been cordoned off with iron barricades bearing the logo of the Water Supplies Department.

These roadworks were suspended about two weeks ago. The sites have been left unattended with the road dug open. I have seen handwritten notices at the site complaining about this state of affairs.

Traffic using these roads is obviously affected by any delay in completing the roadworks.

The department must explain to the public why the work has been suspended and it should provide an estimated completion date for the contract.

Michael Ko, Tsing Yi


What are the risks with sliced meat?

I refer to the report that Hongkongers tuck into an average of three-and-a-half sausages and nearly two slices of ham per week, posing a significant cancer risk, according to a recent World Health Organisation study ("WHO warning processed meat causes cancer 'too rash', Hong Kong food industry says, as it braces for impact", October 28).

This is indeed a wake-up call. However, I also think that we need more statistics on the difference between meats that are processed and sliced already, and those that are sliced in the supermarket when you buy them, in terms of the health impact.

As far as I know, in most supermarkets today, there is a meat counter section where there is a vast selection. For example, consumers can choose from different types of ham.

We need to know if there is a difference between the ham that you purchase already sliced and packaged and that which you have sliced to order at the meat counter.

Whether one kind poses a greater cancer risk than the other is something that needs to be looked into.

Perhaps the relevant authorities could shed some light on this issue, so that we as consumers can make an informed decision.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Causeway Bay


Poverty rate should be alarming

I wonder if Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim thought no one would be able to read the same data as he did and come up with the completely opposite conclusion about poverty in Hong Kong ("Demystifying Hong Kong's poverty rate," Tuesday, October 28).

The media headlines are underdone, in my opinion.

When the number of households headed by economically inactive adults of working age more than doubles, surely alarm bells ought to be ringing?

Moreover, to say that there is nothing to be alarmed about by a poverty rate among economically active households that has fluctuated between 7.8 per cent and 10.5 per cent is preposterous in a city that has experienced such high economic growth rates over the same period.

Aren't we supposed to be growing our way out of poverty, not wallowing in it?

Isn't that the justification for our low-tax, small-government approach?

What we really need is insight into who these people are who are being left behind.

What are the barriers to them joining the workforce and lifting themselves out of poverty?

Would any other academics such as Professor Wong fancy a stroll around Yuen Long to try and find out?

Anthony Lawrance, Wan Chai