Wrong tack: government policies jeopardise social harmony

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 March, 2016, 12:16am

The recent riot in Mong Kok has been roundly condemned. Under no circumstances must Hong Kong condone any civil disturbances, especially the Occupy disturbances, let alone a riot. The culprits must be brought to justice and deterrent punishments meted out. To forestall another riot on a grand scale, let us fathom its causes.

Firstly, the youths of today have been placed in educational and extracurricular pressure cookers even before they were born. At the same time, they have been spoiled and mollycoddled since birth. Raised with lax discipline, they are immature, impetuous and irresponsible. Not possessing any marketable skills or qualifications on graduation, many are completely disillusioned. With pent-up frustration and seeing no future ahead of them, they can easily become a powder keg of unrest.

Secondly, the government’s policies enrich the already very wealthy plutocrats (1 per cent of the population), reduce the size of the economy-driven middle class and impoverish the already very poor section of the population. For over 30 years, the Hong Kong dollar has been pegged at incorrect exchange rates. Based on incorrect rates, the city maps out its financial, monetary and economic policies, prepares its budgetary and economic forecasts and assesses its financial situation. Thus, the policies so mapped out are faulty, the forecasts are way off the mark and the financial situation grossly distorted – an act of self-delusion.

The zero-interest-rate policy spells economic and social disaster for the city. Businesses pay little interest on loans and people receive zero interest on deposits. If interest rates were determined by the market, many retirees with savings would receive interest incomes to maintain their livelihoods – an effective measure to alleviate partially the serious problem of poverty. Importantly, if interest rates were determined by the market, they could stifle the widespread speculation of the city’s property market – an effective measure to prevent the bursting of the housing bubble.

It is tempting to suggest that the government adopts a “let them eat cake” attitude towards the 99 per cent of the population. However, it is worthy of note that the contentment of the 99 per cent of the population is crucial to a harmonious and prosperous society.

Alex Ng, Sham Shui Po