Don't let concerns about corruption halt quake aid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 3:14am

Hong Kong has a good reputation for charity donations. From the Japan earthquake to the tsunami in Southeast Asia, we have shown exceptional generosity in helping our neighbours. When it comes to disasters on the mainland, our response is even more enthusiastic. Billions of dollars were raised after the Sichuan earthquake five years ago. So when the region was hit again over the weekend, it was only natural that relief aide and donations followed. Today, the government's HK$100 million funding request will be tabled to Legco for approval.

Unfortunately, some activists are trying to block the donation, saying it will only feed corrupt mainland officials. One of the examples cited is an ill-fated secondary school rebuilt with Hong Kong money. The HK$2 million project was torn down after 11 months to make way for luxury flats.

Nothing dampens the spirit of giving more than the fear that the money is being siphoned off. The concerns are understandable given that China's anti-corruption efforts still leave a lot to be desired. But President Xi Jinping has pledged to crack down and improve the situation. It would be wrong to deny victims the relief and aide they need because of fears and perceptions. Reports show that the majority of the HK$10 billion we donated to Sichuan reconstruction went to worthy causes. Instead of rejecting the funding, legislators should push for more stringent safeguards against corruption and misspending.

There is no reason why our generosity should not extend across the border. It is as much humanitarian assistance as moral obligation to help our fellow countrymen in distress. That donations continue to flow through the non-government organisations to the quake-hit region is strong testimony of people's willingness to give. There is no better way to show our love and care for the country and its people. If the government funding request is voted down, it will send the wrong signal that the city is turning its back on those in need.