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Police officers investigate a clinic in Chai Wan on September 22 for illegally issuing fake Covid-19 vaccination exemption certificates. Photo: Jelly Tse

Letters | Covid-19 vaccine exemption scam: doctors and civil servants involved let Hongkongers down

  • Readers discuss the spate of arrests over fake vaccine exemption certificates, the persistent denial of scientific evidence of human influence on global warming, the benefits of a citywide five-day work week, and the impact of exam pressure on students’ mental health
Hong Kong
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It is worrying that the issuance of fraudulent Covid-19 vaccination exemption certificates by seven doctors may adversely affect public health and Hong Kong’s economic recovery. It is of concern that not only members of the general public but also civil servants availed themselves of such certificates.

Doctors have a duty to protect the public from public health risks. Fraudulently issuing vaccination exemption certificates is an act of selfishness and a violation of doctors’ professional code.

These doctors are mercenary. One of them charged HK$4,000 for the certificate. They should face the full force of the law, including the possibility of a prison sentence, and any penalties the Medical Council deems fit to mete out, including striking them off the list of registered practitioners.
We should also reflect on why people chose to buy these exemption certificates. Most people are eligible for vaccination, but some are afraid of long-lasting and potentially dangerous symptoms like myocarditis. However, government officials have repeatedly emphasised that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and that any associated risks are considerably lower than those associated with Covid-19 infection.
So it is hard to understand why 370 civil servants have refused to get jabbed. Civil servants should set an example for the rest of the population, instead of fretting about side effects.
The government announced on September 27 that the fake vaccination exemption certificates will be deemed invalid from October 12. However, the police said investigation of one doctor in Yau Ma Tei, for example, suggested he gave out about 200 exemption certificates in one day. Why did the government not notice the surge in the issuance of certificates by a single doctor? It should be more vigilant and act more promptly in the future.

Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan Kwok-ki has said it is Hongkongers’ civic responsibility to protect themselves and others and to stand united in fighting the pandemic. All of us need to get inoculated as soon as possible. Those who acquire these bogus exemptions are neither protecting themselves nor others but rather hampering efforts to control the pandemic.

Vito Wong, Tuen Mun

Where’s the evidence to support climate change doubt?

I am writing in response to the letter, “Climate change dogma fosters scepticism” (September 25). Dubbing anthropogenic climate change a dogma is totally incorrect.

The conclusion of human influence warming the atmosphere, ocean and land is drawn from the sixth assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compiled by over 230 scientists from 65 countries who have assessed more than 14,000 scientific publications. The overwhelming scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change is clear.

Your correspondent is sceptical of anthropogenic climate change without presenting any scientific evidence. Casting doubt on an overwhelming scientific consensus without providing any supporting scientific evidence is just a technique of science denial.

Your readers are reminded that IPCC assessment reports are the most authoritative in the assessment of climate change. Endorsed by 193 United Nations member countries, the reports and the statements therein were compiled based on a large amount of peer-reviewed scientific evidence, representing the global consensus of climate scientists.

Lee Sai Ming, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Allow all Hongkongers a five-day work week

In Hong Kong, if a statutory holiday falls on a Sunday, the next day will be a rest day. For example, October 2, 2023, will be a holiday because National Day next year falls on a Sunday. Since National Day this year fell on a Saturday, however, the city’s residents did not get an extra day off on Monday to enjoy a four-day break because Hong Kong has yet to adopt a five-day work week.

The Labour Department has published a leaflet on how five-day work weeks could be arranged. Over 70 per cent of civil servants have also been working for five days a week. We hope the government could make Saturday a rest day for the whole society through legislation to help more people achieve work-family balance.

Howard Lam and Alan Yau, students, Baptist University

Study pressure must ease for children’s well-being

The government has not done a great job when it comes to youth mental health (“Hong Kong suicide rate for children under 15 hit historical high last year with 11 victims”, September 10). As a city, Hong Kong is focused on business and the economy, with relatively less attention paid to improving other social indicators. Students’ mental health is clearly low on the list of priorities.

It’s almost as if people have forgotten that students are human beings, not studying machines. Asian parents are notorious for their high academic standards, demanding nothing less than an A grade from their children.

Parents are no doubt driven by societal norms that view students who attain higher grades as being of better character overall, but pay little attention to the feelings of their children. The right amount of pressure can have a positive effect, but too much and children might be overwhelmed with questions and doubts, which can adversely affect their self-esteem.

Parents are not the only ones responsible for students’ poor mental health though. Not only do teenagers tend to compare themselves with their peers, teachers also do so, often comparing the academically weaker students to those who excel at exams.

If Hong Kong is concerned about youth mental health and the suicide rate among young people, much more can be done to reform the education system.

Luca Song, Yau Tong