Poor show on welfare for aged

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 November, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 November, 1993, 12:00am

JIMMY McGregor's withdrawal of motion debate was a defeat for the elderly in Hong Kong. Despite Hong Kong's prosperity for the past three decades, a large percentage of Hong Kong's elderly still live in poverty.

Many are totally dependent on old-age assistance, which at the current level just barely keeps one surviving, let alone living with any kind of dignity.

Mr McGregor's proposal of a universal old-age pension is to enable the elderly, who have in many ways contributed to Hong Kong's prosperity, to share some of the benefits and to live out the remainder of their lives in dignity.

This proposal is to augment the current level of welfare to the elderly, which is woefully inadequate. This old-age pension is to provide a safety net for all in their twilight years. The beauty of this scheme is that it can be carried out immediately, and requires relatively little administrative cost.

The old-age pension's purpose is to provide the most basic welfare protection for society and should not be confused with a central provident fund (CPF), which is a long-term investment to provide retirement benefits.

Henry Tang Ying-yen, of the Liberal Party, in trying to amend Mr McGregor's motion on the CPF in effect deprived the Legislative Council of a chance to debate the most fundamental welfare for the elderly.

Rarely have political considerations trampled on the basic welfare and aspirations of one class of the most helpless people in Hong Kong, and rarely have so few done so great an injustice for so many.

Mr Tang has just done Hong Kong a great disservice. DR PATRICK KIN-YING SHIU Kowloon