• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 9:32am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 3:46am

Special coffee for the financial secretary

BIO

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.
 

On behalf of all you middle-class people out there, Public Eye says this to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah: "Phooey. You're not one of us. You're a pretender." Over and over again we've told you our bureaucrats live in la-la land. Tsang has now proved us so right that Public Eye feels totally vindicated. Anyone who makes over HK$300,000 a month, resides in a huge mansion, has a chauffeur and flies first-class - all paid for by taxpayers - but still says he belongs to the middle class doesn't just live in la-la land, he lives in another dimension. And anyone who defines middle-class people as those who drink coffee and watch French movies - not by how much they earn - must be high on never-never land coffee unknown to us earthlings. We have a financial secretary who is completely clueless about how to define the different classes in society, yet is in charge of the people's money. The forgiving will find a way to laugh off Tsang's offensive remarks as foolish gaffes. But it was not a slip of the tongue. It exposed the total inability of our overpaid officials to understand the people. And they sit in their ivory towers wondering why the people so disdain them.

 

An iron rice bowl is not a perk of the middle class

What if the US Treasury Secretary or Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer said people who made HK$300,000 belonged to the middle class because they drank coffee and watched French movies? The outrage would be so great they would likely be fired. Tsang didn't even bother to withdraw his remark. Yet he still has his job. Unlike finance chiefs in true democracies, whose elected bosses are accountable to the people, John "middle-class" Tsang does not have to answer to the people who pay his huge salary. He can say what he wants and spend the people's money however he likes. He can stash away billions for his feared "rainy day" while the rest of us suffer. When they kick up a fuss he can tell them to shove off because he knows best what's best for them. He won't lose his job, because it comes not only with high pay and perks, but also an iron rice bowl.

 

Property owners and landlords richer

Who are Hong Kong's richest people? Property owners and greedy landlords, of course. And who are among the poorest? Those at the mercy of exorbitant rents. So what does John "middle-class" Tsang do? He further fattens the wallets of property owners and greedy landlords. In budget after budget he has waived property rates. And he did it again this year. That means land owners won't be taxed even though property values have shot through the roof. Same goes for greedy landlords who are ripping you off. And what about you, the long-suffering renter? You get nothing.

 

Earn under HK$300,000? You poor, lower-class thing!

If John Tsang, who makes over HK$300,000 a month, says he belongs to the middle class, then surely we are not the wealthy society our government so loves to brag about. Only a tiny fraction of Hongkongers make that kind of money. If they're middle class, then the rest must belong to the poor class by Tsang's definition. That means Hong Kong has a whole lot more poor people than the 1.2 million estimated by welfare organisations, since the median monthly wage is only about HK$12,800. So, if you live in a HK$6 million flat, have a HK$40,000 monthly income and think you're middle-class, think again. You're in the poor class. But you can always climb the mobility ladder with coffee and French movies.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

mskelly
Reasonably said this time but I still have a problem with your use of 'greedy'. Opportunist I feel may be more accurate but then so too would 'rational owner of capital' or ' market participant acting rationally in their own self interest'. I don't agree with broad brushing those who own capital as, by definition, greedy. If however you wish to identify that attribute with John Tsang then I again would say its unfair to brand those intellectually handicapped as greedy.
Byebye
Academics, Universities, Researchers, please do some facts finding on Middle-class according to Hong Kong standards. From then we can reevaluate the salary scale of Mr John Tsang who professed to be "Middle-class", and other overpaid government officers.
tomonday
boy, our total household income is around $60 grand and both my kids goes to ESF schools, we rent a 750 sq ft apartment, takes a holiday once a year...blaa blaa blaa and I always thought we are middle class. dang, I'm actually poor by HK standards, and those earning less than me, poor souls. what can our rich government do to help them?
 
 
 
 
 

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