Social tensions 'inevitable'
Ronald Ling, University of Hong Kong
In recent years, the public has become negative towards the upper class. Many people dislike the rich, thinking that they treat the poor unjustly and exploit them. Hongkongers, especially lower-class people, believe all rich people are the source of social injustice and inequality. So they blame all social conflicts on the upper class.
Although prejudice is more common against lower-status groups, the public may discriminate against the rich, too.
People label the upper class over their personal attributes. People assume the upper classes are unjust, exploitative and selfish based on some cases of rich people taking advantage of the public.
For example, large enterprises cut wages even when making huge profits, and public transport operators keep increasing fares although they are earning high revenues. But even when rich people or large companies donate money and support charitable events, people say they are exceptions. So the label continues to stick. Prejudice may arise from competition and frustration. These days, society is fighting for scarce resources, especially when it comes to government funds. The public usually gets frustrated when they believe they are being treated unfairly in terms of resource allocation, although this may not be the only reason behind their dissatisfaction.
People are also unhappy because of the widening wealth gap and sky-high property prices. The rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer, while the middle class is also having a tough time these days.
Social hatred of the rich is likely to remain an inevitable phenomenon in such a diverse society.