My Take

Pan-dems get a taste of their own medicine over costly poverty trip

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 1:52am

When you spend too much time fighting an enemy, you become like him. That may be why a group of lawmakers led by prominent pan-democrats have decided to spend up to HK$560,000 of taxpayers' money to study poverty relief in Finland and Sweden, just about the most expensive countries you can visit.

The cost of the proposed week-long trip in August includes air fares, airport taxes, hotels, meals, insurance and travel expenses. Led by the deputy chairman of Legco's subcommittee on poverty, Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, the trip has the support of chairman Frederick Fung Kin-kee. Besides these prominent pan-democrats, subcommittee members include the Democratic Party's Albert Ho Chun-yan, unionist leader Lee Cheuk-yan, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit. Pro-establishment members include Tam Yiu-chung, Abraham Razack and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, but it's not clear how keen they are to join the trip, especially now after the media exposure.

It's good that our pan-dems educate themselves. But I would prefer they just bought a few books to teach themselves the basics of the Scandinavian welfare states. Hell, it would be cheaper to fly over in first class a few of the countries' experts if our lawmakers are so keen to learn. I am sure their consulates in Hong Kong would be happy to make the arrangements.

By the way, have pan-dems like Fernando Cheung ever heard of the internet? I've been told it's an excellent - and free - research tool! The two countries are among the most extreme welfare states in the world, the very opposite of Hong Kong's social-economic system. They also have the least income inequality and poverty.

I am sure we could achieve similar results if we decided to turn ourselves into an extreme welfare state tomorrow. There is no mystery about those countries' social-economic conditions.

Over the years, the pan-dems and their media allies have "nickel-and-dimed" government officials for taking overseas business trips, criticisms sometimes justified, sometimes not. They have created an atmosphere in which every business trip by officials is assumed to be illegitimate, corrupt or, at best, unnecessary.

As the Good Book teaches, you reap what you sow.