Public assistance level is far too low

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 12:00am

I refer to the report headlined, '$84 a day enough for elderly' (South China Morning Post, November 9).

In the story, the acting Secretary for Health and Welfare Gregory Leung Wing-lup, was reported as saying that needy elderly people were better off than younger welfare recipients and should be able to manage on $84 a day public assistance.

People over 60 get $2,555 a month in public assistance. Although the assistance for the elderly is more than that of people under 60, it is still not enough for them to meet their basic daily needs.

I would like to look at this in more detail, on the basis of a 30-day month. Let's say an elderly person spends $15 on breakfast, $30 on lunch and $30 on dinner, monthly rent of $1,500, and monthly water and power bills of $50 and $100, respectively. That comes to a grand total of $3,900.

Clearly, the basic monthly expenditure for old people far exceeds the public assistance they are given. The monthly sum must be increased. They spent their working lives helping with the development of Hong Kong. They deserve to enjoy a stable life in old age.

I often hear stories of old people who have no one to turn to for help. Many must feel neglected and harshly treated.

It is important for us all to show more concern for the elderly. Money can only satisfy their physical needs, how about their emotional needs? We should show more respect for the elderly and talk to them.

They deserve to be able to live out their remaining years with dignity.


Tai Po