• Thu
  • Oct 30, 2014
  • Updated: 6:16pm
CY Leung policy address 2014
NewsHong Kong
POLICY ADDRESS

Middle-class feel Leung Chun-ying's policy address neglected their needs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 10:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 3:00am

Middle-class Hongkongers turned up the heat on Leung Chun-ying yesterday, taking to the airwaves to berate the chief executive for neglecting their needs in his policy address.

The state of the middle class was the main topic raised by callers who questioned Leung on a radio phone-in organised by RTHK, Commercial Radio, Metro Radio and DBC, one day after the policy speech.

A poll by the University of Hong Kong found that Leung's address was less well received than his maiden speech a year ago, despite his multibillion-dollar splurge on welfare.

"My family is living on an income of HK$30,000 per month but I have to pay off my mortgage, take care of two family members, employ a maid and pay taxes … while you have handed out resources to the grass roots. Have you ever helped us?" one caller asked Leung.

Another criticised Leung for focusing on poverty, asking: "Do you think the middle-class can take care of themselves?"

Leung said his government had both the ability and a responsibility to satisfy the basic needs of the poor, and the use of income and assets tests would ensure that resources were directed only to those in need.

He said the government would help the middle-class in a different way: by boosting economic development to improve their quality of life and upward mobility.

In his policy speech, Leung unveiled initiatives that would cost taxpayers more than HK$10 billion per year. The measures include the Low-Income Working Family Allowance, which will cost HK$3 billion per year and benefit 710,000 people in more than 200,000 poor families.

Leung expressed confidence the government could afford the spending increase, amid criticism that he had breached the Basic Law by failing to keep expenditure below revenues.

Callers also raised concern over Leung's plan to subsidise the overseas studies of elite students, with one caller saying the government should use the money to help poor children instead.

The HKU poll, taken immediately after the speech on Wednesday, saw the 1,017 respondents give Leung's policy address an average mark of 54.1 out of 100, 2.3 marks less than last year. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 per cent.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

14

This article is now closed to comments

keithkklau@gmail.com
From time to time, middle class complains for lack of care from the government. Well as a middle class, I had received tax rebate for many years but I don't think it is a proper way of spending the surplus. The surplus should be spent to strengthen the economy which will ultimately benefit the middle class with better career prospects but unfortunately nothing had been done since the handover. We should push the government and the Legco members to deliver something in this area. Hong Kong badly needs long term planning in many areas. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong for the government to help those working poors. Government function is about re-distribution of income and the problem in our taxation system is taxing too little on those top earners and big corporations. They are already enjoying the benefits of asset inflation and also the global trend is the top tier is getting a bigger pie at the expense of majority . This affluent class (or companies) deserve to give more back to the society. A progressive income tax system should be implemented.
mkhel
sooner or later someone will have to pay for all these welfare goodies via either higher taxes or a sales tax; given that HK has no dividend or capital gains tax at the moment, middle class working people will end up having to dig deeper in their pockets in the foreseeable future.
22gt7
Let me correct you. It is not "sooner or later". Now, if Tsang, FS, does not extend the tax and other relief as last year, all middle-class taxpayers will immediately be financing all these welfare goodies. We have the so-called provisional tax and if you just look at your tax bill last year, you should realize that the welfare money is in effect billed to the so-called middle-class taxpayers!
HK-Explorer
The government does not need to help the middle class. They just have to stop taking so much away from them. The budget surplus is not the governments money. It is the money the government took from the middle class.
If you leave more money with the middle class they will spend it and also invest in Hong Kong. This will boost the economy more than providing handouts to people who don't deserver it.
dascaldasf
I am not at least surprised that there's no piece of the pie for the middle class ... not even crusts. Yet, the government turns the vice tight on middle income earners every tax year when the coffer slims down just a bit. Tighter on the vice when the financial secretary plays the 'bleak' tune before his financial year report (for each year) even whether or not there is a surplus. Middle class whine because the government is helping the poor? No. The middle class is just sick of being neglected by the government, before and after the handover.
keithkklau@gmail.com
The middle class is a a wide spectrum. For the lower middle class and even to mid middle class, their disposable income is very limited after paying off the rent/mortgage and taking care of the children and/or elderly needs. the threat they are facing is job stability and stagnant income in a flagging economy. The government say to boost up the economy is right but it takes long time to restructure it. Middle class deserves more immediate attention from the government but not in the form of cash subsidy. One area the government needs to focus is education. Most lower to mid middle class probably can't afford their kids international school or studying abroad and they are calling for a better local education system in terms of quality and fairness. . The parents and kids are now far more stressed than before A P3 student at the age of 9 ( in some extreme case, training starts at P1) is now forced to train up for TSA. Students are trained to be multi-talented to prepare for primary/secondary school interview and clearly this trend is putting those students with less resources and family support in a big disadvantage. Very unfortunately, the government does not dare to address the shortcomings of current system which is more politics driven rather than addressing student's need.
hk_kennethho@yahoo.com.hk
I don't agree. The main problem is government didn't consider the situation middle class are facing.
daily
You can never please everyone...........help the poor and then the middle-class complains.........help the middle class and vice versa..........You know what the biggest problem is?............HK people are whiners and complain about everything............I mean everything..........I'm starting to feel that the problem is not only on CY. The problem is the HK people itself.............
kcwp
Yeah, because people in other countries don't complain about their governments when they are being screwed over by big businesses. Lol. Travelled much?
sipsip1238
My partner and I are on over 150k a month and we still don't use a maid or even help around the house...I don't see why someone on 30k needs to, for the elderly, maybe...but some people really need to consider their budget before spending.
kcwp
Maybe it's because most families don't earn half that amount but have to look after their parents, children, high rent, etc. That they might be working two jobs to get the best for their children, where they have to compete with wealthy mainland money. But I don't expect a couple on 150k a month to understand that.
sipsip1238
I am not denying that families on 30k a month have it tough, I'm more noting the point that people should live within their means. When you're on 30k, most likely you shouldn't have a servant/maid right? I don't deny that this city is harsh for lower income people, but to me, maids sounds extravagant.
My partner and I live way below the average consumption of our peers, renting a very small apartment which makes it easy to clean given our work demands. We are fortunate to have a decent income, but it also means that we need to be frugal while we have the income, meaning cutting back on maids, dry cleaning, massive flats, and cooking ourselves so we don't have to constantly eat out (healthier too).
When you're on 30k a month, should you really be spending more than 10% of that on a maid? Just seems a bit expensive to me, and just because your next door neighbor has one doesn't mean you need to.
impala
You really have no clue about Hong Kong, do you?

This household earns 30k a month. That actually already makes them well off by HK standards. They absolutely not 'lower income' as you call it. 30k a month puts them solidly in the Hong Kong middle class. Lower income in Hong Kong is a household income of <10k (that would be roughly the bottom 25% of households). The median household income is 24k; this 30k household is actually in the top 35% of household incomes. Depending on where you draw the line, they can classified as upper middle class, since 65% of households are worse off than them.

Perhaps each partner earns 15k. Not bad either since median per person income in HK is just 13k a month. Or maybe one partner earns 20k and the other 10k, who knows. Either way, they obviously can't afford to give up one of those incomes.

How do you expect them to have or take care of a child when both are working, daycare is virtually non-existent, maternity leave is 10 weeks (if you're lucky), paid holidays probably no more than 12 days a year, and flexible work hours are never heard of? Or how do you expect them to take care of an elderly parent in the absence of a universal pension?

Having a domestic helper is not a luxury. I am sure they would rather not have one, and enjoy (slightly) more living space. For most of the HK middle class, a DH is a bare necessity since living on a single income is simply impossible given the cost of in particular housing and schooling.
sipsip1238
How do you claim that I don't know a single thing about Hong Kong when my partner and I spends 2-3 nights after work volunteer at charities helping both the homeless and underprivileged families. If anything, we are sadly too aware of how bad things here are.
Yes, it can also be likely that this person (and many others) have a particular need to have a domestic helper, but the fact that this person is able to employ someone and are making do means that their complaint is that they don't have enough left over after all expenses.
Compared to the people receiving assistance, this family is multiples better off when there are families who are getting by on less than your help may get paid.
I am not denying that people even considered "Middle Class" are having it tough in HK, but there are plenty more people below that deserves the assistance before we should be screaming foul.
The truth is, it is not fair, none of this is ever fair, but I truly believe that people should ask themselves whether they would rather switch places with the people receiving the new benefits just to get benefits before we raise our hands and complain.
In all honesty, its not fair that my partner and I make as much as we do, what we can actively do is not to squander it but instead try to help others in need, there are millions much worst off than the 30k family who deserves assistance before them, because the help affects life or death, not how much is left.
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or