Measuring the quality of life in Hong Kong
For 15 years, we have seen Hong Kong's economy regain its buzz with the mainland's backing, but other problems have persisted, such as air pollution. The jury is still out on whether Hong Kong is a better place to live compared to its pre-handover days, as shown by the views expressed by six prominent opinion leaders the South China Morning Post invited to participate in our latest SCMP debate series.
The quality of life in Hong Kong is the main focus of the second of our weekly series about the SAR's development since 1997, with input from local businessman David Wong Yau-kar, veteran banker Paul Fan Chor-ho, architect Bernard Lim Wan-fung, former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce Rob Chipman, environmentalist Eric Bohm and social activist Sit Pui-yu.
Sit, an activist for the elderly with the Society for Community Organisation, blames social inequality for marring people's livelihoods. 'Hong Kong has certainly become a worse place to live in the last 15 years in all aspects, and has become a noticeably more unequal city,' he says.
Chipman says that although Hong Kong continues to be a wonderful place to live, the widening income gap and unyielding air pollution are jeopardising our city.
'When I consider the long-term health effects, it's profoundly disturbing ... we have the knowledge base and the human talent to tackle the problem. It really is frustrating to see how little progress is being made,' he said.
Bohm, ex-chief executive of WWF Hong Kong, attributes the downturn to how the authorities 'appear to hide behind the misinformation that the majority of the pollutants come from the mainland, which allows them to avoid taking decisive action'.
While our panellists disagreed on whether people's livelihoods had improved, they still take pride in being a Hongkonger. Wong, chairman of the Business and Professionals Federation, says he's proud that Hong Kong is a safe city with a low crime rate, and is a free hub where East meets West.
Lim, a professor at Chinese University's school of architecture, regards Hong Kong as his base. 'The city is my root, but if I only stay here, it would be too limiting. We stand local and look global. It's one of the opportunities we get after the handover and one I am enjoying.'