SCMP Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Youngster has strong chance of survival

STELLA LEE

Yu Man-hon has a good chance of survival, despite being missing for 12 days, according to a psychiatrist.
Dr Edwin Yu Chi-shing, senior psychiatrist and a member of the Guardianship Board for people with mental disorders or disabilities, said Man-hon would look for food and shelter.
"Seeking survival is a basic instinct of a human being, just as it is with animals," Dr Yu said. "You don't need a high level of intelligence to do that. You'll seek food when you're hungry and you'll take shelter during a storm. And it's lucky that it's now autumn, so there is not a weather factor. His chance of survival would be lower if it was winter and severely cold."
Dr Yu said that although Man-hon was hyperactive and needed daily medication, tiredness and hunger could reduce the seriousness of the problem.
He said his biggest worry was that Man-hon might have fallen, drowned or been assaulted.
"The longer the time he's gone missing, the lesser the chance he's going to be found," he said.
Dr Yu said anyone who saw Man-hon should show him gestures of friendliness. "You've got to tune into his needs. You can smile at him, offer him food or drink. You have to approach him from his front and not from behind," he said.
Lam Siu-ling, principal of Po Leung Kuk Yu Lee Mo Fun Memorial School where Man-hon is studying, also believed there was high chance the boy was alive. "His health is very good. He has the basic instinct to live - like getting food when he's hungry," she said.
Yeung Tak-wah, general secretary of Wai Ji Christian Service, a group for the mentally handicapped over 15, also believed there was a high chance Man-hon would survive.
"He may get ill by eating food which is dirty. But as long as he's in places with people, he should be okay as I believe it's a Chinese tradition that people will offer help," Mr Yeung said.