Letters to the Editor, January 29, 2018

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 5:05pm

Doctor’s death a grim sign of need for rest

Having an optimal duration of resident physician shifts aims to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes. The premature death of an overworked emergency doctor in northwest China’s Qinghai (“Emergency doctor dies after treating 40 patients on long night shift”, January 26) highlights how shift length and rostering patterns should also aim to enhance physician well-being and learning opportunities.

The adverse impact on the quality of home and work life for 24/7 hospital doctors is often ­neglected. While there is no compelling evidence that ­restricting physician work hours contributes to improved patient safety in hospitals, such measures do anecdotally reduce risk of accidents involving fatigued and sleep-deprived doctors driving home after marathon shifts, suffering reduced concentration and longer reaction times. The risk, to themselves and road users, posed by a sleep-deprived doctor continues after they sign off from long shifts.

Moreover, the intrusion imposed by long and unsociable shifts on the quality of life of doctors and their families impinges on the sustainability of medical careers. Surely patients would much rather see well-rested and more cheerful doctors.

Joseph Ting, adjunct associate professor, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

No evidence to back wasteful animal testing

I refer to your report on Chinese doctors using a sophisticated cloning process on macaques (“First monkeys cloned by ‘Dolly’ process”, January 25). However, while such cloning may be a breakthrough for ­scientists and reduce the number of wild animals needed for medical research, real ethical problems remain.

The use of animals in experiments is not only cruel but also often ineffective and wasteful.

It is not surprising to find that treatments showing “promise” in animals work less well in humans. The support for animal testing is based largely on anecdotal evidence.

William DuBay, Ap Lei Chau

Gay marriage is one step to better society

I am writing in response to your article citing ­acceptance of sexual differences as one way to make Hong Kong a happier place in 2018 (“8 ways to make miserable Hong Kong a happier place in 2018”, January 6).

In recent years, the US, Taiwan and Canada have all passed laws to allow same-sex marriage, a landmark in the sphere of human rights. In fact, Australia in December became the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage. So, should not Hong Kong follow suit as an international city?

I am reminded of the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game, about Alan Turing, the great British mathematician who saved millions of lives by decoding the Nazi Enigma machine.

However, he was gay, and homosexuality was illegal at the time in the UK. He was convicted of gross indecency, agreed to undergo chemical castration to avoid being sent to prison, and later committed suicide.

In a modern society, everyone should have the right to choose their lover. Legalising same-sex marriage is just one step towards creating a progressive, developed society.

Hong Kong, as an international city, should take the lead in progressing human rights.

­Allowing gay couples to marry and giving same-sex spouses the same rights as heterosexual partners would enhance the global image of the city, and help it to attract more talented professionals.

The government of Hong Kong would be able to gain the support of all sections of society, regardless of sexuality, and a better society could be built in this way.

Vincent Lau, Tseung Kwan O

Questions for a market full of altered homes

As your paper reported, an estimated one in four residential properties in Hong Kong features illegal structures (“One in four Hong Kong properties has illegal structures, but most owners get away”, January 22).

The price of secondary homes will often be based on the property “as is”, ­including any ­illegal structures that have added to the value, as perceived by both the buyer and seller.

So what about the banks that have financed these properties which have unauthorised building works? What is the discount the banks will have to take on their mortgage portfolios, as surely now the furore over illegal structures at the homes of new justice chief Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah has revealed that property values are even more inflated than we all know them to be?

So what happens next? A big employment boom for government housing inspectors? A big boom for local contractors to ­remove illegal structures all over Hong Kong? A big boom for the legal sector, which could be ­inundated with lawsuits related to fraudulent representations by sellers; and buyers when applying for mortgages?

Simon Constantinides, Pok Fu Lam

Noodles drama showed level of discrimination

I write in response to your article on a food fight at an airport congee shop (“Mainland women accept Hong Kong shop’s apology for food fight”, January 24).

I wholeheartedly believe that Hongkongers should revise their attitude towards mainlanders in all respects.

The scandalous incident at the Hong Kong airport, where a congee shop staff threw a bowl of noodles at a mainland woman, stirred up much controversy in our society. Such an indecent, even humiliating, act saddened many, as it showed mainlanders being discriminated against just for speaking Mandarin or for being mainland Chinese.

It may be largely true that the massive influx of mainland tourists adds to overcrowding in the city, and behaviour such as having children relieve themselves on the street irritates Hongkongers a lot; some believe they are all coming to scramble for scarce resources, pushing up prices and placing a heavy financial burden on Hongkongers.

The incident demonstrated the extreme feelings some Hongkongers harbour towards mainlanders and their great fear of assimilation with China.

Hongkongers, especially the younger generation, often have a weak sense of national identity; they do not want to be considered Chinese, or even deny that Hong Kong is part of China.

Hongkongers should not put the blame for all social ills on mainland Chinese. We must not use discriminatory words to criticise mainlanders and must ease any bias towards them, for a harmonious and united future.

Karen Ip, Fo Tan