[KCLPASS Columns 2016-2017 Issue #7]
In the midst of all merry December festivities, it may not be on one’s radar that behind the closed doors of what is supposed to be a home of love, care and protection – the most vulnerable in society are living in a home that fosters sexual assaults and mental abuse.
Such injustices were only brought to light recently. The case of the Bridge of Rehabilitation nursing home’s superintendent Cheung King-wah being accused of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a mentally ill resident. What is most alarming is not simply the court’s decision to absolve Cheung of his charges, due to the victim’s post stress and trauma disorder that making her unfit for giving her statement. However, it is the fact that the Bridge of Rehabilitation’s had been running for more than a decade and its license was not acquitted. Shockingly, they were still deemed to be a legitimate care home.
Recent cases such as rehabilitation centre worker Chan Ma-lee sticking adhesive tape on a mentally disabled resident in order to make him sleep are growing and not only are there more than five deaths at care homes for the mentally disabled in the past two years, but 251 care homes failed to meet the Residential Care Homes for Persons with Disabilities Ordinance. These failures clearly demonstrate the Social Welfare Department’s oversight and underlines the imperative for a crackdown in the system and the implementation of much stricter regulation.
The feasibility of injecting greater funds to supervise these substandard and dehumanising services does not seem to go against public opinion. In fact, 80,000 Hongkongers were reported to have signed a petition for immediate government intervention to protect the legal rights of those disadvantaged and vulnerable. In October, there was also a large-scale march where families and friends of people with special needs protested for a review of nursing home policies. Apparent from the public outcry, such acts that are not simply a breach of trust but a serious criminal offence as well should not be tolerated. A quote from a Magistrate “You have forgotten your role as a parent” explains best the great responsibilities and trust enforced upon care workers hence such let downs have revealed the importance in putting an end to Hong Kong’s deeply flawed and intolerable social and welfare system
Author: Belinda Lui
KCLPASS Sub-committee member 2016-17
(The view of the author does not represent the position of the Society. KCLPASS is a politically neutral society.)