Elderly march to demand financial support

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am


About 100 elderly people took to the streets yesterday calling on the government to speed up the introduction of a special old-age allowance.

Braving the withering heat, the group marched to the Chief Executive's Office in Admiralty and flew paper planes, mocking Leung Chun-ying's delay in delivering his campaign promise of more so-called 'fruit money' for hard-up old people.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung had earlier said that rolling out the special old-age allowance this year would be difficult, citing technical problems. He did not offer a timetable for its implementation.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, who joined the march, said: 'Inflation is too dramatic. The special old-age allowance would really help out some of the elderly, who rely on the money to survive, while research on raising the old-age allowance [for all] is done.'

Leung had vowed to improve the livelihoods of elderly residents, including dramatically increasing their government allowances. But those marching yesterday were worried the chief executive might renege on his campaign promises. Lee said Leung had a lot to say during his election campaign but had given the impression he was looking for excuses since taking office.

'C. Y. on the campaign trail said he would use a new type of thinking to deal with issues. What Cheung said earlier, however, [was about] a type of common bureaucratic inefficiency.'

The Democratic Party also called on the government to start public consultation and research for a universal retirement-protection scheme. The party believes that the monthly old-age allowance should be raised from HK$1,090 to HK$3,000.

The monthly old-age allowance is offered to permanent residents aged over 65, but is subject to a means test for those below the age of 70.

Successful applicants can continue receiving fruit money as long as they spend at least 60 days a year in the city.

The Labour and Welfare Bureau could not be reached for comment.