'Leave care fund to the tycoons'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am

The HK$10 billion Community Care Fund should not accept donations from the public because it would compete with non-governmental organisations which already struggle to raise enough cash, a member of the committee overseeing the fund says.

'If the Community Care Fund is open for the general public's contributions, this will mean competition for donations with NGOs,' welfare sector legislator Peter Cheung Kwok-che said after a meeting with 10 NGO representatives. 'By inviting 20 to 30 rich people to donate, the chief executive will be able to collect the [business share of] HK$5 billion. There is no need to raise funds from citizens.'

A confidential paper distributed to members of the fund committee, which meets for the first time today, recommends public donations be accepted. This echoes Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's comments when he announced the fund, to be financed equally by government and business.

But Cheung, a member of the committee, said he would not accept the recommendation.

The fund, announced in the chief executive's policy address on October, is designed to complement the existing social security system in helping the underprivileged.

Chaired by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, the committee includes the heads of the bureaus of labour and welfare, education, health and home affairs.

In the paper distributed to members on Monday, the government also proposed setting up four working groups to discuss the use of the fund in the four areas, according to a person who has read the document.

Cheung also called for operation of the fund to be made transparent. 'Minutes should be uploaded online after each steering committee meeting,' he said. The fund should be wrapped up in five years once its original goal was met, he said.

'The Community Care Fund should not become the second social security net ... instead of relying on the fund, loopholes in the safety net should be plugged,' he said.

Philemon Choi Yuen-wan, president of the Youth Foundation, said: 'The fund lacks transparency and no one knows how it is managed.'

Choi, a co-founder of the Child Development Matching Fund, which seeks to match charities with donors, said it was easy to raise and donate money but what society really needed was a caring culture. 'We cannot simply give out money to the needy. We have to let them know society is concerned about them,' he said.

The Matching Fund will launch with a fund-raiser from December 18 to 24, with 2,000 people singing Christmas carols across the city. They will each donate at least HK$200.

For the needy

The amount, in Hong Kong dollars, the Community Care Fund is targeting to help the underprivileged: $10b