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Hong Kong housing

How ‘autocratic’ Singapore trumps ‘free’ Hong Kong on true liveability

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018, 5:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018, 5:03am

Mr David Dodwell is right to call out the bias in the ranking methodologies of many “liveability” studies (“Hong Kong is the place to be – flawed surveys on ‘liveability’ have got it wrong”, August 18)

However, he is just as “blatantly biased” – to quote his self-characterisation on this issue – in glossing over the harsh realities facing the average Hongkonger.

The city’s wealth gap is widening, and this stratification is compounded by the hollowing out of many industries to competitors in the Pearl River Delta region and elsewhere.

Housing remains the most unaffordable in the world, pigeon holes appear to be the growing norm for new property launches. Congestion is rife in many homes, as well as on the streets and pavements of Hong Kong. Air, noise and light pollution are rampant – no thanks in part to an urban planning quirk, which consigns the vast majority of the city’s 7.3 million population to live, work, play and buzz about on around 250 sq km of land, or about a third of Singapore.

Throw in the daily arrivals from the rest of China, and nowhere else in the world can one witness such a concentration camp of homo sapiens living cheek by jowl with the wild boars, Burmese pythons, 240 species of butterfly, and other wildlife that live in the city’s vast and expansive country parks covering a total area that is about 50 per cent more than the sum which has been set aside for human habitation.

While this sharp juxtaposition between the density of a man-made concrete jungle and the spatiality of the natural environment does have its charms, it is of little consolation to those who have to make do with living conditions that are an absolute disgrace to any civilised society, let alone one that proudly calls itself “Asia’s World City”.

One in five women in Hong Kong subdivided flats claim to have been sexually harassed

I am shocked that Mr Dodwell can consider arm-wrestling one’s way around Tokyo’s “inscrutable” city rail system such a challenge – it is always a breeze for me – compared to the growing opacity of decision-making affecting liveability in Hong Kong.

Should he not be used to negotiating a madding crowd by now, given his deep and extensive experience living in a vastly superior urban metropolis?

Who does Hong Kong exist for? The Communist Party? The high-net-worth individuals, families and businesses? Or its people, regardless of income status, race, language or religion?

It is always amusing to hear some Hongkongers and other liberals hype the so-called “freedoms” the city enjoys over “autocratic inferiors” like Singapore, when they are increasingly being oppressed by a socio-economic-political cartel.

John Chan, Singapore