Letters to the Editor, December 21, 2016
Hospital fee hike will not be effective
I do not think the proposed increase in accident and emergency services charges (from HK$100 to HK$220) in public hospitals will be effective.
The purpose of the increase is to alleviate the overcrowding in A&E units, but I do not believe it will achieve that objective.
Most of the patients are elderly and people on low incomes who cannot afford the fees charged by private clinics.
Middle-class citizens generally prefer private clinics to public hospitals as they do not have to wait so long and can afford to pay around HK$300 for a consultation. This will now only be around HK$80 more than the proposed new charge for A&E units.
Many of the people on low incomes at these units are recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or elderly citizens who get health vouchers, so they will be unaffected by the fee rise as they do not pay it.
Therefore, despite the fee hike, they will still keep coming and so it will not solve the problem of overcrowding.
The best solution to cope with so many patients is for the government to hire more doctors and nurses.
With increased manpower, public hospitals will be able to deal with the large number of patients, but raising fees is not the answer.
Benson Wong Tat-hin, Tseung Kwan O
Time to get tough with worst polluters
Severe air pollution continues to be a serious problem on the mainland and a major concern for affected citizens (“Flights grounded and highways shut in smog-choked north China”, December 19).
Smog from vehicles and factory chimneys envelopes cities and towns, and blanks out what were once blue skies.
As a consequence, the environment and the people of China are suffering. The severe air pollution is causing health problems, leading, for example, to respiratory diseases, various cancers, cardiovascular diseases and asthma.
The air is full of suspended particles and visibility on the streets is low.
It is difficult for pedestrians and motorists to see what is in front of them, and there is a high risk of traffic accidents.
The government must do more to address this problem.
It must tighten the legislation banning the most polluting vehicles and ensure that it is enforced. And there must be stricter control over carbon emissions from factories.
It also has to encourage wider use of renewable sources of energy, like solar and hydroelectric power, in order to be able to limit the use of fossil fuels, which are the main cause of the air pollution.
Samuel Cheng Ka-ho, Sai Kung
Citizens suffer when waste is dumped
Residents of cities like Tianjin (天津 ) are suffering from the smog that is affecting northern China.
The measures introduced to tackle this problem have been inadequate and there are frequent red alerts for air pollution.
Also, the central government needs to regulate all illegal factories and tightly control the disposal of waste.
So often factory owners simply dump all solid waste and sewage into the sea and rivers.
This damages the environment and the quality of life for people living near these plants.
The government must come up with an effective strategy to ensure comprehensive monitoring of these factories and this should be done as soon as possible.
Strict rules, and punishments for those who break them, are necessary. It is also important to make citizens more aware of the importance of protecting the environment.
Kathleen Kong Hoi-hung, Tseung Kwan O
Marine police should provide some statistics
In my letter (“Fishermen complain about refuse, but they are the worst polluters”, September 20), I said that much of the surface pollution in Aberdeen typhoon shelter is caused by fishermen illegally disposing of their waste (household and industrial), especially at night.
For that reason, I asked the marine police to inform the public on what priority is given to the prosecution of offenders of Hong Kong’s anti-pollution legislation.
I asked if the public could be informed about the success of their enforcement efforts, including the number of fines issued per month, and day versus night bookings.
Unfortunately, the marine police have kept silent.
Given their muteness, I have additional questions.
What sort of and how many hours of training do our marine police receive to combat pollution?
How many staff have the fight against pollution as a first priority?
Do the police do any dedicated anti-pollution surveillance and, if the answer is in the affirmative, how often, and at what times of the day and night?
Also, after so many well-publicised efforts by volunteers to clean up our coastline, and with even our chief executive collecting garbage from our beaches, isn’t it time that a special anti-pollution task force was considered by the marine police?
It would be a step in the right direction if the marine police would at least elaborate on their efforts and start reporting the number of fines imposed.
Regular broadcasting of such fines – assuming there have been any issued – will surely have a deterrent effect on prospective and repeat polluters.
Eduard van Voorst, Lamma
Transgender citizens left feeling isolated
Although Hong Kong has a unique East meets West culture, in certain areas, it is less than open-minded, because of traditional Chinese ways of thinking.
Therefore, many locals may be unlikely to be tolerant of transgender citizens.
There is now greater acceptance in many countries of the transgender community and it is time for Hong Kong to follow this trend.
Transgender people here face a number of difficulties. Apart from a designated centre at the Prince of Wales Hospital, they have limited medical and psychological support.
This can often result in their feeling marginalised and it can make it difficult for them to be positive about life. Even in prison, transgender inmates have reported facing discrimination.
If we want to see a more harmonious society, Hongkongers must show tolerance towards transgender citizens.
Dickens Mok, Hang Hau
Brownfield sites always a better option
I do not agree with the assistant director of planning, Amy Cheung Yi-mei, about how to deal with future housing needs (“Artificial island or country park development? Hongkongers face hard housing choices, official says’’, December 7).
I do not believe there is any need to construct an artificial island in the middle of the sea. Nor do we need to encroach on our country parks to meet our housing targets.
What the government needs to do is fully utilise the brownfield sites which can be found all around Hong Kong, including abandoned agricultural land and places such as scrap yards, which may be located illegally on government land.
They can be cleared for much-needed housing projects.
It saddens me when I read of government officials talking about possible residential developments in our country parks.
These parks have high ecological value and it is important that they are preserved for future generations.
Isabella Chan, Tseung Kwan O