How the budget surplus is like fiscal bait

What to do with the expected government surplus? Seemingly fringe ideas, if properly executed, can solve several problems that vex us deeply

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 3:44am

The financial secretary is expected to announce another big surplus in his budget next week. A surplus is as embarrassing as a deficit. It shows either the officials got their figures wrong, or they nodded off on the job.

Or could it be that failure in their collective imagination has failed Hong Kong? The saving grace is a surplus is like fiscal bait. We all get hooked on it with one wishful thought or another.


Tit for tat

Hong Kong is a land of milk and money. The recent milk powder scam and scare proves this. Even back in 2008, mainlanders flocked to Hong Kong to buy milk powder because of the melamine-in-milk scare there. The fact that our compatriots love to buy products here is, no doubt, a compliment to Hong Kong's system of law and order and free trade. It is, nevertheless, a backhanded compliment.

Mainland mothers can shop in trustworthy Hong Kong. This is their choice. Where is the choice for Hong Kong mothers? Breastfeeding should be a realistic choice for mothers here. Yet, as every working mother will tell you, they have problems with breastfeeding as crèches and other facilities are lacking. Without the privacy to feed babies outside the familiar home environment, there is always the risk of being leered at by curious colleagues or salacious strangers.

Furthermore, there is still an undercurrent of ignorant prejudices and social stigma against breastfeeding.

The subject of an appropriate infrastructure for breastfeeding mothers and the need for a societal change of attitude towards breastfeeding were debated long ago.

Somewhere along the line we must have dozed off. It's time we woke up to revisit the subject. Breast Is Best! Hong Kong does not take seconds!


The Hanging Gardens of Hong Kong

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were an ancient, possibly mythical, wonder. The United Nations has recently issued a report about the likelihood of a food shortage due to extreme weather which makes food production and storage a problem.

To counter the likely impact of a food shortage on Hong Kong, we need to develop hydroponic cultivation, creating a modern version of the Babylonian wonder.

This means growing food without soil - an attractive solution in a city where agricultural land is at a premium and disappearing fast.

One way to promote hydroponic cultivation is to allow unauthorised structures to be given over to hydroponic use.

Growing food without soil can take place in subterranean rooms, on balconies, in partitioned subdivided flats, under footbridges, on rooftops and even in holes in the wall.

It is conceivable for Hong Kong's so-called "ghost people" - currently burrowed out of sight and out of mind in "caged homes" - to learn the growing skills, which would allow them to be become respectable income-earning, tax-paying hydroponic agriculturalists.

All things are possible.

Hong Kong - like Sleeping Beauty - just needs to wake up.

By a stretch of the imagination, the financial secretary loaded with dough, surplus dough, might just be the proverbial Prince Charming to make all this happen.