Retirement protection is not a handout, but a basic human right

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 December, 2015, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 December, 2015, 3:24pm

I must say I have been left quite disappointed by the government’s response to a proposal for universal retirement protection.

It seems obvious that the government will adopt whatever tactics it can to try and convince the Hong Kong public that a universal retirement pension scheme is unattainable.

I believe the government is manipulating the statistics that came from the study on pensions led by University of Hong Kong social work professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun to meet its own ends.

Despite recent comments on this matter by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, I do not think the government is giving a fair and clear explanation of how it has arrived at its projections of the cost of such a universal scheme. But, most importantly, and as Professor Chow has pointed out, universal retirement protection is more than just talking about the cost.

It is also about social responsibility and what is ethical, and about basic human rights. It is about so much more than mere poverty assistance.

The government says, of two proposed retirement plans, one is a proposal for “those regardless of rich or poor”, versus one for “those with financial needs”. This is a very cheap tactic, which is aimed at diverting the attention of the public away from the real issue.

Every Hong Kong citizen hopes to have and is entitled to have a minimum level of retirement protection in their old age, whether they are rich or poor, and whether they need it or not.

It is their basic human right, in a developed society like Hong Kong, for people to be able to live the rest of their lives in a dignified way. This should not be seen as another poverty assistance scheme.

George Ngo, North Point