The desire for a dignified but simple life is not 'anti-business'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 September, 2010, 12:00am


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In the article 'Tien slams 'miserly' welfare spending' (September 4), you report that former Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun criticised the government for not spending some of Hong Kong's foreign exchange reserves on alleviating poverty.

While I agree the government could and should do more to address the widening social and economic gap, I think Mr Tien misses the mark when he attempts to blame the administration for an increasing anti-business sentiment in the community.

If Mr Tien and others in the business community bothered to live, shop and speak on equal terms with more people, he would discover that such comments do the people of Hong Kong a massive injustice.

The anti-business sentiment has nothing to do with poverty, by which he implies envy. Most people I have spoken to just want to live with dignity in a city that has become their home. The do not envy him. They do not want to buy the latest fashions, nor drive the latest model of car. They do not shop in malls, or identify with the mostly Western waifs draped across the walls and in the shop windows of any new development.

They want to be able to shop in the local wet market and eat in the local dai pai dong; to celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival with a Chiu Chau mooncake from the family-run bakery close to their estate.

While they want their estates redeveloped, they want them developed to reflect their needs.

They don't want the Urban Renewal Authority tearing down their neighbourhood to make way for more luxury apartments, or The Link Reit redeveloping their estates to the specification of Starbucks. But this is what they see happening.

People are angry with the business community because they feel that they are being used.

They feel angry because our banks could sell them high-risk securities that neither they nor those that sold them understood, and the people lost out. They feel angry because developers seek to satisfy their greed by demolishing poor communities while claiming to redevelop neighbourhoods.

They are angry because big business has become more than rapacious, but intolerant of a community alternative, whether it be the local Chinese doctor or the vegetable seller who happily extends credit to the elderly.

Parents are angry having gone into debt to ensure their sons and daughter obtained an education, only to see them no better off. They feel they were sold a lie. Their children feel they were sold a lie.

Yet Mr Tien seems to think there is no collusion between the government and the business community.

He wants us to believe that these business leaders are taking the rap for a failure in government.

This, Mr Tien, is why so many people in the business community are disliked.

Evan Fowler, Fo Tan