Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Admonishment from Beijing

Yesterday Premier Wen Jiabao urged Hong Kong to use its ample reserves and public revenue to take better care of the poor and vulnerable.

"With sufficient government revenue and ample foreign exchange reserves, Hong Kong needs to make the most of the favourable conditions to improve its social safety net," he said. "In particular, to take good care of the vulnerable groups, thus making people in Hong Kong live a better life."

He said this during the press conference that concludes the National People's Congress (NPC), responding to a question about Hong Kong's widening wealth gap.

Wen is hinting the Hong Kong government is being stingy with its money and not doing enough for the underprivileged. But perhaps he was particularly referring to the many mainland Chinese, the poor ones who come here seeking a better life, but find it much harder than they imagined. Also they are not eligible for the HK$6,000 ($769.50) Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah plans to give to all permanent Hong Kong residents and recently the media have done many stories on these immigrants who could really use the extra cash.

One wealthy expat was so moved by the story of one particular family that barely had enough money to live month to month that he sent them a cheque of HK$6,000 to which they were extremely grateful.

So why isn't the government doing the same or even better, taking the lead?

How about giving these people housing and transport subsidies, access to remedial education or skills training, and day care for their young children? That is long term thinking.

Why not set up education foundations for children of poor families to ensure these students have a means of going to school or giving them the resources they need to perform academically well regardless of their economic background?

Isn't that what Hong Kong is about? Giving people a chance?

Historically the then British colony was a place of refuge that sheltered refugees from China escaping attacks from the Japanese and later the Communists.

It was here that they were given a chance to have a fresh start, to rebuild their lives and Hong Kong gave them that opportunity.

Now it has become a cosmopolitan metropolis, but it is shutting out the poor or even the lower middle class as they struggle to buy a flat or get decent paying jobs.

To keep the diversity of the social make up of the city which makes it a dynamic place to live, the government needs to help those in need with subsidies and resources.

Or has the government decided to leave them behind?

1 comment:

  1. the hk government only knows to gang up with the rich and screw the poor. they should now smarten up and plan to have more far-sighted plans to build a more cohesive and equitable society. it is of utmost urgency to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.