Mocking approval for castles in the air

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 1997, 12:00am

Plans to establish 'paradises' for the elderly that would include such luxuries as saunas were endorsed, despite criticism of the idea as unrealistic.

The motion was tabled by welfare panel chairman Wong Siu-yee of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance.

He proposed that every district have a 25,000-square-foot, self-run centre providing services to the elderly.

Chan Yuen-han of the Federation of Trade Unions said she supported the motion's spirit but not its specifics.

'The idea is a castle in the air,' she said. 'It is suggested a sauna be installed in each of these centres.

'Are you dreaming? The Government doesn't accept some of our very simple demands, let alone saunas.' The Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood's Mok Ying-fan likened the proposal to giving a beautiful coat to a dying beggar.

The Liberal Party abstained from the vote.

'The package is appealing and has some upmarket wording,' the party's Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said.

'But it's just a counterpoint to existing elderly centres.' Independent Dominic Chan Choi-hi said the centres would be about as useful as a fifth tyre on a car.

'If the elderly can't even have a full stomach, how can they exercise in the senior citizens' paradise,' he said.

Mr Wong said it was shameful for the Government to be mean spirited when it had huge financial reserves.

'We're not talking about a lot of money here. We're just talking about high-quality service,' he said.