Saturday, 3 August 2013

More Poverty Woes

The numbers of poorest of the poor in Hong Kong continue to shock us. The Hong Kong Institute of Education released a survey saying 1.33 million live in poverty or 18.8 percent at less than HK$6,062 ($782) a month, and those living in severe poverty numbers at 545,000 living on less than HK$120 a day, or HK$3,585 a month.

Poverty is defined as earning less than HK$6,062 a month, half of the median income of all households in the city.

We can't even imagine how people can manage to survive on HK$120 a day, inclusive of rent, food and clothing. Most are elderly and more than 10 percent are children.

Chou Kee-lee, associate head of HKIEd's Asian and Policy Studies department says "[The government] doesn't even know that severe poverty can be divided from poverty."

The problem, he says is that some subsidies only go to those with jobs, and there is still no comprehensive government pension for severely poor elderly.

The severely poor were more likely to be unemployed, elderly and living alone. Chou said these people tended to be immigrants without a support network, disabled, poorly educated or had no savings.

"The risk of severe poverty is greater for older people," he said. "As most elderly people living in severe poverty are either alone or without an elderly spouse, the situation warrants public attention."

While Chou is advocating two lines defining poor and severely poor so that different policies could be established, Law Chi-kwong, member of the Commission on Poverty, said one poverty line was enough.

"The most important thing is policy," said Law. "A poverty line is just a reference for better analyses."

We hope that with the government finally instituting the city's first poverty line officially next month, that things will finally start to happen for these people who definitely need a helping hand.

The Hong Kong government is so rich and yet it cannot help its most vulnerable? Or has it turned a blind eye to this group all this time? The government needs to act now to help these people get back on their feet and live in relative comfort in such a prosperous city.


  1. There are places in the world where one can live okay on HK$6,062 a month -- even HK$3,585 a month -- but Hong Kong is most emphatically not one of them. Frankly, I can hardly imagine the wretched lives they must live. E.g., it's hot now and imagine being cooped up in a box-like place (or cage) with no air con, or fan even. It would be like torture.

    Last night, I viewed a 1954 film entitled "Story of Father and Son" at the Hong Kong Film Archive that depicted the divide between rich and poor. The painful thing is to realize that the gulf between rich and poor in Hong Kong looks to be way wider now than it was back in 1954.

    All in all, I find it a true travesty that so many people do -- and that the authorities are not helping these poor people out as much as they should. People like CY Leung and John Tsang should be ashamed -- and I bet they wouldn't be able to survive a a month on HK$6,062 -- especially given that that amount includes housing.

    1. Hi YTSL

      Oh! I didn't hear about that movie! Too bad I didn't see it. Yes the gap between the rich and poor is getting larger in Hong Kong, and much more so in China.

      There is no sympathy from the Hong Kong government -- doesn't really matter who is in power -- they don't realize what a large poor population the city has and so they've done nothing to help them.

      It falls on NGOs and charities, but we need policies in place.

  2. actually the likes of Li Ka-Shing and Lee Sau Kee should be ashamed instead given people like CY Leung and John Tsang are morons.

    personally I WOULD NOT HELP THE IMMIGRANTS other than finding them job opportunites, otherwise it would set a VERY BAD PRECEDENT for PRC mainland to rush across the border and MORE ARCHOR BABIES in HK.

  3. It's so sad to know that there are so many people living in poverty in such a prosperous city as Hong Kong. It breaks my heart a little when I see old ladies sorting through rubbish bins. I hear from several sources that the government is awash with money but they don't seem to be using it to tackle social problems like this. It's very nice to have a subsidy on my electricity bill but surely that money would be better used to look after those who really need it?

    1. Hi littlekoo -- yes every time the financial secretary announces this electricity subsidy, people complain that is benefits the wrong people but it doesn't seem like the government is listening...