It really won’t take that much to make Hongkongers happier

Victor Fung urges the government to start small – by creating more good jobs for graduates and ensuring our MPF savings can be used on housing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2016, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2016, 9:01am

Hong Kong people are unhappy and 42 per cent of them are considering leaving, according to a survey by think tank Civic Exchange. The poll also reveals that 70 per cent believe quality of life has become “worse” or “much worse”.

People care about the quality of government, the quality and cost of housing, and education. And they are far from satisfied with how these issues are being addressed.

Quality of life in Hong Kong worsening with political struggles and astronomic housing prices, research finds

There has been nothing but bad news of late in the political, social and economic spheres, it seems.

Hong Kong has lost out to Singapore for many years as the destination for foreign and Chinese companies to set up international headquarters due to its lower tax regime. Hong Kong’s long-awaited plan to halve the corporate profit tax rate for eligible organisations only became effective on June 10. It might take a few years before we catch up with the Lion City in attracting firms to set up here.

Another bone of contention among educated young people in Hong Kong is that few university graduates can find a good job.

A recent Legislative Council secretariat survey found that fewer than half of graduates take up top managerial and professional jobs and they make less money than older graduates. The mismatch is because the creation of high-end jobs cannot keep pace with manpower supply.

Housing eats up record 34pc of spending by Hongkongers

According to the research, from 2008 to 2015, 26 per cent of the additional workforce with a degree ended up as clerks, service workers or shop sales staff, more than twice the 12 per cent from 1994 to 2001. It also reveals that graduates born in the mid-1960s could attain median monthly employment earnings of HK$33,500 by the age of 35 to 39. However, a graduate born in the mid-1970s could make only HK$26,100 at the same age.

It seems that the government can do a better job in matching the creation of professional jobs with the supply of graduates. Or else, more unhappiness will ensue.

Allow Hong Kong provident fund beneficiaries to use money to buy flat, says regulator

Many Hong Kong people are also unhappy about housing. High property prices have rendered many people, old and young, unable to own their own home. One solution might be to allow Hong Kong people to use their Mandatory Provident Fund savings to buy property. (I have HK$500,000 in my account but I can only use the money when I am 65. By then, property prices may have gone through the roof!)

Of course, at 65, owning large amounts of cash would make us happy. Nevertheless, owning both an apartment and some cash would make us happier.

Although these are only small steps, they would undoubtedly benefit many people in Hong Kong, hopefully leading to a return of smiling faces on the streets.

Victor Fung Keung is a veteran journalist and an adjunct professor at Shue Yan University