Government gets 2 out of 100 on helping the poor

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am


The government has totally failed to help underprivileged children and mishandled the poverty situation by letting people live in cage homes and subdivided flats, a concern group said yesterday.

In its seventh annual report on the government's record, the Society for Community Organisation (Soco) faulted the administration for failing to take care of the city's underprivileged children.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the government scored between minus two and plus one on 10 issues in this year's report card. Its overall mark was two out of 100.

The church-backed group has never given the government a pass. Its highest mark was 19 out of 100 in 2008, and the lowest was zero in 2009. This year's score was the second lowest in the report's seven years.

The administration scored zeros on five issues: the report card said it had made no effort to help narrow the wealth gap, to establish an independent children's ombudsman or to introduce a comprehensive policy on problems facing children.

The government was given minus two out of 10 for inadequate medical services - including complaints such as the difficulty of making a booking with a doctor and the 'extremely long' wait for outpatients.

The government's housing policy scored one point out of 10. Soco said the low mark was due to the fact that more and more poor children were living in subdivided flats and cage homes in urban slums.

The government scored four points out of 10 - its highest in any area - for efforts in education, although it was faulted for not implementing a programme that would guarantee all children 15 years of free education.

The 10 issues in the study - the 'Annual Report of the Civil Children's Ombudsman in Hong Kong' - were chosen by Soco's Children's Rights Association.

'The government's performance last year was very disappointing,' Soco's community organiser, Sze Lai-shan, said. 'We demand long-term policies aimed at reducing poverty.'

About 300,000 children were living below the poverty line, and about 20,000 of them lived in deplorable conditions, resulting in a lack of space to read and study, she said.

The groups said the problem was made worse by the poorer class' lack of voice in the government and the city's lack of democracy.