Chief executive’s policy address failed Hong Kong’s elderly and stressed-out students
Just before Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying delivered his policy address, we learned that his support rating was at its lowest ever. The University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme reported a support rating of only 37.5 points, the lowest since he assumed office in 2012. Not surprisingly, his policy address failed to win over his many critics.
However, despite the widespread public disappointment, we should judge him based on his actions, rather than perceptions. So, what exactly did he fail to accomplish in his policy plan?
In my view, it failed in two major ways. First, it lacks sufficient support for the elderly. Hong Kong is ageing quickly; by 2041, one in three Hong Kong peole will be 65 years or above. The government has no choice but to step up its efforts to prepare us for this future. Elderly people need better prospects.
In the policy address, the chief executive announced that the government will provide about 70 additional subsidised day care places between now and 2016-17. This is hardly enough, as Hong Kong currently has about 1.1 million people who are 65 years and over.
Not too long ago, Hong Kong people were outraged by the callous treatment of some elderly residents in a nursing home. Thus, in his speech, Leung pledged to increase the supply of subsidised residential care places, improve their service, and strengthen their monitoring, such as by enhancing inspection and supervision. The move is laudable, but the plan remains vague and he did not specify what kind of measures would be taken. Hong Kong needs a sustainable plan to help the elderly.
Two, the policy plan did not address problems in our education system. It is true that everyone loves learning, but few of us like the education system. Just like other secondary students in Hong Kong, I feel like I am studying in a “pressure cooker” instead of in a school. Due to our tight schedule of extracurricular activities and the dreaded Diploma of Secondary Education exam, we have to push ourselves very hard.
And we’re not the only ones to suffer. Some Hong Kong parents are campaigning to end the stressful Territory-wide System Assessment tests for Primary Three students.
Although I appreciate the announcement of a new scholarship programme, where are the needed reforms? Providing scholarships can act as an incentive to study, but Leung did nothing to solve the root of our problem, which is excessive pressure. Leung should scrap the TSA and loosen the tight schedule of schooling.
No doubt Leung is doing a good job on alleviating poverty and the shortage of affordable housing, but it’s time he heeds the will of the people.
Jason Lui, Kwun Tong