We don’t have things like this here

Wednesday 5 December 2012, 1.23am HKT

Updated 06 Dec 2012

ONE of my neighbours has recently asked me to spotlight those things that regularly exist abroad that regularly don’t exist in this city of Hong Kong that we live in.

Not my neighbour

Not my neighbour

As my neighbour explained it to me, that would—

“… let us see what what we think we have but in fact others are having for a long time.”

Not a bad idea, I thought. The only problem I see is that it opens up another front for others to attack me for cherrypicking stuff that seems to promote ‘the outside’ and tread on Hong Kong.

Be that as it may.

I can’t possibly fret over how others interpret or misinterpret whatever I do or say. Just like the war of words going on right now at my other blog — that unfunny, uninspired and practically dormant one called Learn English or Starve.

Can’t fret too much when I work an 80- to 110-hour workweek in that hopelessly hopeless line of business called printing.


Thought it be a good idea to show you this:—

trainee solicitor surgery 2012 1204

(via Trainee Solicitor Surgery on Facebook)

This is a vacancy in the United Kingdom. It isn’t a common legal vacancy there, yet it isn’t uncommon or rare either.

I’ve never ever seen anything like this in Hong Kong, and neither have any of the lawyers I know.


If you’ve read the last post here by my friend Lily C., you could say I’m keeping up with topicality.

That advert becomes even more topical and relevant when I tell you of the plight of an 18/19-year-old young man I sort of knew back in 2008 or 2009.

At the time, I was still in crutches from a busted pelvis. That young man was in the same hospital patient follow-up group I was in.

The young man (let’s call him “K” for convenience) had his right leg broken or partially severed in some industrial accident that already sounds like a nightmare without relaying the gory details. Emergency surgery took place to lash it back together. He was put in a wheelchair for some weeks, and then on a pair of crutches.

K’s leg had been put back together in such a mangled way that, frankly, defies belief.

Legs are normally straight. The top (femur) and bottom (tibia and fibula) halves run in a straight line. K’s leg post-op had the lower part running at 20° to 25° outwards from the median plane.

Update 06 Dec 2012: Apologies. It should be 20° to 25° outwards from the sagittal plane (blue in the image below).

anatomical axes and planes

At first, I thought maybe that’s how the cookie crumbles, man. Without knowing a little bit more of K’s case, maybe that’s the best the surgeons could’ve done for the poor sod.

(Sorry, I don’t have a picture of K’s abortion of a post-op leg. I don’t think it’s fair on him either.)

The more I got to see K every time we attended the hospital sessions, the more it didn’t sit well with me. Surely, with our current state of medical technology (especially for a mechanical injury like that) and Hong Kong isn’t some backwater country with crap healthcare, there must’ve been something better than THIS?!

I mean, K’s life is wrecked. When you’re an 18 or 19 year old with a gammy leg flying off at an absurd, deformed angle, that’s a hell of an ordeal close enough to ‘wrecked’ as anyone could ever get short of an outright amputation.

Basically, I just upgot and upwent to K and told him I’m going to ‘front’ for him and try to get the medical authorities to have another crack at fixing his leg. After all, I’ve got some (outdated) medical knowledge, some (non-practising) legal background, reasonably better read than this poor sod, got some sort of a plan in my head, and he’s clearly unable to help himself, why not have a go? There’s nothing to lose by asking, but everything to gain.

It took nearly a whole year with the hospital’s Medical Social Welfare office to set up a remedial surgical operation for K. That’s the part just to arrange K on the waiting list. Once on the list, K waited 10 to 13 weeks for the operation to come through.

(Contrary to the blather of those anti-public healthcare detractors, the normal waiting time IS 10 to 13 weeks for this type of surgery.)

First, the MSW office gave all-English forms for K to fill in, when it’s clear as daylight that K has crap-zero knowledge of English. Is that not fobbing people off?

Then it’s that proverbially usual and proverbially useful excuse of saying it isn’t ‘hospital policy’ for a non-relative to help a patient.

Finally, I got the verbal slap in the face why I never let on in the first place that I know English — as if I’m stupid enough to lend them a hand in putting up more ‘administrative’ obstacles all in Chinese language. Dafuq did I just heard?

It would’ve been better had the hospital just told us that, sorry, we’re spread too thin as it is to give that kind of individual attention.

We’re reasonable people; we’d understand.

My beef isn’t really about the almost-yearlong time to get K his remedial surgery. Hospitals the world over have to make some cruel priorities, and since I’m no hospital administrator, I can’t pass judgment.

Punch in the Face

It’s the attitude of our fellow patients in the hospital follow-up group that got to K and me.

I had been verbally slapped in the face with remarks like, “Why are you making trouble, huh?” or “What’s him to you anyway?” and similar other derogatory remarks.

Tell me what it is to YOU? I told these co-patients. How is this negatively impacting on YOUR healthcare you’re receiving?

“If this happened to you, are you going to let it go like that?” I said to one co-patient, who looked as if he wanted to beat the crap out of me with his wound dressing. “If it happened to your children, you’d rapidly change your mind.” Shut him up that.


Look at it this way.

The United Kingdom, like many other countries, has become a crap country.

Hong Kong and the UK have roughly comparable levels of medical negligence cases. By the numbers, the UK of course has more medical negligence cases than Hong Kong. But as a percentage of population receiving (public) healthcare, the percentage is about the same.

(Don’t quote me on this, because I am working from memory on this score.)

Yet, we see the UK comes out with legal vacancies such as Medical Negligence Paralegals — even though most legally trained people can forever remember from their law school classes that lawsuits involving any aspect of medicine are really, really hard to succeed.

Yet, we see such vacancies there but not in Hong Kong.

We people of Hong Kong can sing whatever praises we like about our place. But when we in Hong Kong don’t have any functioning or functionable medical negligence statutes on our lawbooks or even the occasional medical negligence-related vacancy, then it’s high time to reflect on our own operational shortcomings.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12440)

Images: Asian girl via c4c | Screenshot of Trainee Solicitor Surgery advert by the author | Anatomical axes and planes via The Free Dictionary | Punch in the face via Pozadia.org.

3 Responses to “We don’t have things like this here”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    So, amongst the folks in Hong Kong it is considered a virtue in being heartless and inhumane to other people? Would that be in any way connected to a handful of Eastern religions which promote the idea of never apologizing for anything, never holding oneself accountable to others on a purely moral basis?


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