Citizens in 'happy' countries pay much higher taxes than Hongkongers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2012, 12:00am


The recently released World Happiness Report, commissioned by the United Nations, lists countries' ranking in 'happiness'.

The top three countries are Denmark, Finland and Norway in that order. Hong Kong people might be interested to know that we rank 67th in the happy country table, while Singapore came first in Southeast Asian countries, ranked 33 in the world, and China was ranked at 112.

What we need to consider is why we are so far behind Singapore and even Malaysia, which was 51st and Thailand, at 52.

In the gross national product per capita table issued by the International Monetary Fund, we came 26th in the world. We are quite a rich place, so why are we so unhappy?

The 'happy countries' like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Singapore share similar characteristics.

Their citizens, and especially their young people when they get married and raise a family, can find affordable housing.

These places provide good public medical care and a high percentage of their citizens are educated beyond secondary school level. They have good old age care and their elderly do not face destitution.

We must admit that, in these areas, there is much room for improvement here. However, it has to be noted that citizens in these 'happy' countries pay much higher taxes and pension and medical contributions than Hongkongers.

While we always complain about our lack of services and our poor and our aged not receiving enough care, are we willing to pay higher taxes and contributions?

Our democratic legislators want the government to use its huge fiscal reserves to solve our problems.

What they never want to address is where we find the money to meet recurrent spending once those reserves are spent. Just using up our huge reserves without making sure we have enough future income to meet these expenditures will lead to Hong Kong experiencing the misery which currently afflicts Greece.

In order to get our 'happiness' ranking higher, the incoming government will make tackling Hong Kong's housing problem one of its priorities.

One of the keys to solving this problem is to find enough land.

One obvious question we need to ask ourselves is: does it make sense that we have so many industrial zones within our urban areas?

Are there actually any operating factories in these industrial zones?

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui