Letters to the Editor, February 13, 2018
Need for more housing in city is plain to see
On average, 2.8 Hong Kong citizens are squeezed into a 400 sq ft flat, for an average living space of 142 sq ft. One comparison is with Singapore, where the average living space is about 270 sq ft. It is true that the situation has improved over the last 20 years as family sizes have reduced. Not long ago, there were five to a flat.
The government should be commended on bringing the number down to 2.8, but there is still a long way to go before we can say our housing stock is in any way adequate for a rich society.
Your columnist, Jake van der Kamp (“Hong Kong’s housing shortage is not one of needs but of aspirations”, February 6), argues that this reduction is not an improvement, and “this is not a trend that the Housing Authority would be pleased to trumpet”.
How wrong he is. The Housing Authority should be pleased with the reduction in overcrowding in the estates that it manages. They should also be aiming at further significant reductions in the average number of people per flat. This can only be achieved with an increased supply of flats.
Mr Van der Kamp does not see a supply problem for housing. We do not agree. Hong Kong needs substantially more housing units, both public and private, if we are to house our people in an appropriate way for a rich society.
Victor Apps, chairman, Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong
Holistic focus of TCM deserves more support
I knew little of the profundity of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), until I joined a related programme and competition. People often say Western medicine relieves illness, whereas Chinese medicine heals it. Rather than soothe a disease or symptom, Chinese herbal medicine improves our overall well-being.
As I learned from lectures in the programme, TCM considers the wholeness of a human body, such as how various organs interact and how the meridian or qi(directly translated as “air”) flows through the body.
For instance, in Western therapy, painkillers would be used to alleviate aches or slight paralysis of one’s face, while from the Chinese medicine point of view, the symptom could be caused by malfunction of other organs like the kidneys and so, herbal therapy along with acupuncture on the waist might be required. TCM is said to target the origin of sickness and thus dig it out from the roots, to prevent it from recurring.
Chinese medicine is not based on superstition or non-scientific, as many people consider it to be, but is instead a deep understanding of the connection between humans and nature. The five elements (wu xing) and yin yang (directly translated as “darkness and brightness”) represent a deep philosophy about Mother Nature.
Man originally lived within nature, like all other animals. Humans are wired to have their bodily functions linked with the surrounding environment, and Chinese medicine applies exactly this concept in healing disease.
Hence, it makes use of the different properties of nature, such as wood, fire, earth and so on, to tackle physical problems. This way of respecting and merging nature with therapy deserves to be honoured, not questioned.
It is hoped that TCM would become more widely accepted and recognised. The upcoming first Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong would be a remarkable milestone.
Charis Chan, Kowloon Bay
Hongkongers not interested in new languages
I refer to the letter from Anson C.Y. Chan (“Is English really a ‘core part’ of our identity?”, February 7).
I believe native English speakers may find themselves left out of social activities such as dining and shopping, or find it difficult to mingle in the office, if the majority of co-workers are Cantonese-speaking Hongkongers. Though locals may understand some English, in fact they speak Chinglish, a superficial code-mixing with English. Hardly anyone can enjoy an English film without subtitles.
A company manager or director can hardly write a decent business email in English, not to mention a longer letter, without grammatical mistakes. So English is far from being “core” to the Hong Kong identity.
Likewise, not many Hongkongers can speak Mandarin fluently. The main reason is nobody really cares about, or is patient enough to learn, a new language, whether English or Mandarin. Our heads are filled with fast money, property and share speculation. A new language gets the lowest priority.
When I was young in the colonial era, or the pre-smartphone era, many people would read English newspapers on the bus, train and ferry. But people’s phones these days are full of games and Cantonese drama to kill the time. I rarely ever see English text on their screens.
Edmond Pang, Fanling
Seasonal flu crises need long-term fix
Once again, a seasonal flu outbreak finds public hospitals struggling with the heavy workload and shortage of medical staff. While ad hoc cash injections are welcome, there is clearly a need for more long-term measures.
First, the Education Bureau should increase the number of seats in university medical faculties. Many students with the ability and passion to be doctors may miss out on a chance because they fall a little short in the HKDSE. A bridge course and test could help them and benefit society as well.
Second, the government should consider better pay and welfare benefits for public hospital staff, to reduce turnover and attract quality talent. Staff shortage not only means long waiting times for patients, but also affects efficiency for nurses and doctors.
Chammy Chow, Tseung Kwan O