The phrase "let sleeping dogs lie" regularly comes to mind when I come home from work at night.

Often slumped over his desk in the lift lobby is the security guard everyone calls Uncle Fook, a man who, when he is awake, is friendly and spritely, jumping up to press the lift button or hold the doors.

At first, I get angry that my management fee helps pay for such slackness. Uncle Fook is 78 years old and a younger person should be doing his job. If a gang of baddies dropped by, he wouldn't be of much use. But then I think of his situation and my temper dies down.

Uncle Fook didn't get a good education, so never made much money. He was never married and has no children. When he turned 60, he became a security guard. Every two years, he has to get a doctor's note saying he is healthy for work.

He should be enjoying his twilight years, but the government's old-age allowance of just HK$1,090 a month isn't enough to live on. What happens when he becomes too frail to work is surely on his mind; he needs to be prepared for that eventuality. So Uncle Fook continues to work, and fall asleep towards the end of his shifts. It's not good for security or safety, but no one has been cold-hearted enough to complain as yet.

Anyway, it's not Uncle Fook I should be angry with. It's the government and its disregard for the poorly paid people who helped build this city. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has promised to raise the allowance known as "fruit money" to HK$2,200, but even that's a joke. A joke with a punch-line as tired as poor old Uncle Fook.