Hong Kong prides itself on being a caring society. Various social welfare programmes have been put in place over the past decades to widen the safety net for those who cannot stand on their own feet. While robust economic development continues to enhance the quality of life, the gap between the rich and poor, as shown by statistics, continues to grow. In recent times, bitter sentiments and voices resentful of the rich and powerful have been heard loud and clear. Against the background of growing discontent in the community, the chief executive announced in October a controversial move to set up a HK$10 billion fund for various social programmes, to be equally financed by the government and business. The Community Care Fund aims to help people with economic difficulties, in particular those who fall outside the social safety net. While the intention is commendable, the list of programmes recently hammered out by the steering committee led by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has called into question whether the initial batch of HK$730 million is being spent on those who are most in need of help. It is disappointing that the biggest handout will be used to sponsor 240,000 students from low income households to join study tours, a common school activity for middle-class families. People in favour of the initiative argue that the HK$3,000 per head subsidy gives the underprivileged kids the equal opportunity to broaden their horizons, a worthy social capital investment. The benefit is also spilling over to the travel industry which expects an 80 per cent surge in business with study tours tailor-made for this budget. While few would dispute that it is a positive learning experience, it warrants stronger justification to earmark the lion's share on this before meeting more basic and pressing needs for underprivileged schoolchildren. Similarly, a one-off rent subsidy of HK$1,000 and HK$2,000, depending on the family size, will be dished out to some 23,000 households in private housing who are already on the dole, an initiative which the government says can help ease their burden arising from cyclical rental increase. If the existing comprehensive social security system fails to cushion any seasonal economic changes, the government should make every step to improve safeguards. Any attempt to use the fund as quick fixes to institutional flaws is ill-conceived. Unjustified handouts for those already covered in the safety net will only defeat the purpose of the fund. The clock is ticking fast for the government to secure the matching HK$5 billion from businesses in the run up to May 6, when the legislature will be asked to approve the government's share. Regrettably, lawmakers close to the government have already warned that officials still cannot meet the target despite seven months of preparation. Some members even threatened to withhold support for the funding if business donations fall short of the target. Failing to convince the public that the fund reaches the right target will only discourage tycoons and businesses from loosening their purse strings. A fund with misguided use is not just a waste of community resources and unfair to the contributors, it also gives false hope to those with genuine needs and could further sour the public sentiment. The chief secretary has pledged that this is just the beginning. And these measures may be turned into regular services. Every effort should be made to critically examine the priorities and ensure that the Community Care Fund is one that lives up to Hong Kong's reputation as a caring society.