Leung Chun Ying

Photo exhibit puts focus on child poverty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Cafe de Coral is not your average person's idea of luxury dining, but ask Wendy Lam Wing-yan what she thinks and you will get a different view. 'Cafe de Coral is for the rich,' she says.

That was the caption the mainland-born nine-year-old girl put on a photograph of the fast-food chain that she entered in an exhibition organised by a community group intended to illustrate poverty through the eyes of poor children.

Wendy said that in the five years since she came to Hong Kong she had eaten at the restaurant next to her home just five times.

'I always want to try the grilled steak, but mom always says it's too expensive for us,' she said. 'Everything in the restaurant is too expensive for us.'

A basic rice combo lunch at Cafe de Coral costs about HK$35 while a dinner set such as steak costs about HK$50. Prices have gone up 7 per cent in two rises this year and the chain has said more increases may be needed.

The exhibition was staged by the Society for Community Organisation after it found in a survey that as many as a quarter of children in low-income families did not get enough to eat.

'Hongkongers think children's words are unimportant. But actually we have a vision. I hope more people and government officials can hear what we're saying,' said Kwok Wing-ki, 15, an organiser of the show.

For Simon Pun Shun-sai, 10, a migrant from Shenzhen, the problem is less about food than about living space. His pictures showed the 30 sq ft subdivided flat he shares with his parents and sister.

'I have no dream,' Simon said. 'I only wish the government would build more public housing so that I could move in.'

Attending the opening of the exhibition, Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, a possible contender in next year's election for chief executive, offered his support for needy communities.

'These pictures we see today form no part of Hong Kong's postcards, but they truly exist here ... Many think such bad conditions existed only in the childhood of my generation,' the 57-year-old real-estate and surveying tycoon said.

Standing next to him, Alan Leung Pui-kin, 10, showed Leung a photograph of his mother scavenging for cardboard and said: 'I hope the next chief executive can improve [the problem of] childhood poverty, and improve our livelihood.'