Hong Kong quarantine
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Workers in protective gear push garbage trolleys outside Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong, a quarantine hotel, in Sai Ying Pun on April 26. Photo: Jelly Tse

LettersIf Hong Kong is serious about quarantine, offer enough hotel rooms

  • Readers crunch hotel quarantine numbers, discuss school bullying and adult mindfulness, and suggest the West try asking China nicely to help end the Ukraine war
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The government measures to “streamline” procedures for entry to Hong Kong throw into stark relief the incompetence of our administration. On the one hand, press releases trumpet a seemingly impressive number of 23,000 quarantine hotel rooms, but on the other hand, is anybody doing the maths? If each of these 23,000 rooms is occupied for seven days, it means in any month, just 4.3 incoming travellers can be accommodated per room. This comes to just shy of 100,000 people, or if we allow that maybe 30 per cent are occupied by couples, then 130,000 people.

Sounds like a big number? Well, on a daily basis, it comes to a minuscule 4,300 arrivals a day! And they call this a streamlined system? It is utterly unworkable, as evidenced by the current situation, where quarantine hotels are booked out, some for months.

I get regular updates from Cathay Pacific Airways saying it is increasing flights to Hong Kong but really, what’s the point – the limiting factor is the quarantine hotel situation.


Hong Kong’s John Lee flags a possible review of hotel quarantine rules when he takes office

Hong Kong’s John Lee flags a possible review of hotel quarantine rules when he takes office

And then there are situations such as my own, where having caught and recovered from Covid-19 outside Hong Kong, I failed the pre-return PCR test, so had to cancel my precious quarantine hotel booking. I am now looking at up to two months of limbo before I might be able to get through the front doors of my home.

If the government is truly committed to seven days of quarantine, it should make arrangements that work, and provide at least 100,000 hotel rooms. There is a massive contradiction in that it makes the quarantine mandatory but allows hotels to sign up voluntarily. Those hotels (and there are a great many) that are not signed up as designated quarantine hotels are failing in their civic responsibility to the residents of Hong Kong. Disgraceful.

Our fingers are crossed that the new administration will do a much better job than the current bunch and that this mess will be sorted out.

Bob Rogers, Sai Kung

Self-love is not selfish

I am an alumnus of an elite girls’ school. Back then, due to some misunderstanding, some of my classmates hated me. However, I was sometimes timid in the face of injustice, so I never dared to stand up for myself. When misunderstandings happened, I didn’t dare to clear the air. I loved my friends but had little love for myself because society had conditioned me to believe that self-love is selfish. I tended to lack motivation and could not figure out why. Recently, I started to practise mindfulness and have become more aware of my thoughts. Some memories resurfaced.

More than a decade ago, when I was in Form 6, my English teacher chose a newspaper clipping with a picture of a face that happened to look like mine and shared it with the class. The person in the picture was reported to be mentally challenged. A classmate coloured a front tooth of the person black and placed the clipping on my table or the table behind mine. Now I had a discoloured front tooth from having bitten on a fork accidentally. So, she was trying to humiliate me by suggesting that the person in the picture was me. It was a personal attack. Neither the teacher nor the student explicitly said that it was me, but it was understood that they were referring to me. I did not know what to do except suffer silently.

At graduation dinner, no one clapped when I went on stage to receive a gift. The same girl who had coloured the tooth black reacted by high-fiving her friend. The silence was painful.

I had tied up my hair simply for the dinner, and a girl publicly asked if it had been necessary for me to get all dressed up. This was despite everyone else having done something far more elaborate. Because of her question, people crammed against the classroom door to look at me and I felt like an elephant in a zoo.

From my mindfulness practice, I concluded that my inner child had been hurt and that this requires my attention and love.


There are four points I would like to highlight.

  1. Bullying has a detrimental, long-lasting, debilitating effect on children and young adults.
  2. Bullying comes in many forms. Verbal attacks are just as painful as physical attacks.

  3. Mindfulness can help to find problems hidden beneath the surface.

  4. Self-love is not selfish.

T. Chan, Lam Tin

Ukraine war: ask, don’t order, China to help

In my opinion, there are only two people in the world who can end the war in Ukraine. One is Russian President Vladimir Putin and the other is Chinese President Xi Jinping. I believe that if the West asked, rather than ordered, China to help, we would stand a better chance of ending this war. There is no doubt that China is a major military force in the world and Putin would not dare continue the war if Xi asked him to withdraw his troops. The world order is being rewritten and it would be nice if the leaders of these powerful countries could sort out their problems in a peaceful way.

Doug Cliff, New South Wales, Australia