Why Hong Kong should pause before cheering ‘ultra-rich’ win over New York

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 1:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 4:57am

I am writing in response to the article, “Hong Kong ultra-rich rise to take the crown” (September 7).

The report said how extreme wealth in Asia has seen Hong Kong surpass New York and take over its crown of “ultra-rich city”. That is because the number of people in the “ultra-high net-worth” category, that is, with at least US$30 million in wealth, increased 31 per cent last year to 10,000 in Hong Kong. All these statistics are surely proof that Hongkongers are becoming wealthier and the economy is seeing decent development.

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This should be good news to Hong Kong. However, it is ironic that, while the number of Hong Kong people owning enormous assets is steadily rising, a number of its citizens have to struggle to make ends meet and to afford basic necessities such as two square meals a day and a roof over their heads.

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The label “ultra-rich” seems to be a compliment, but it hides an indictment of the wide disparity between the poor and rich in Hong Kong, and the government’s half-hearted attempts at alleviating poverty while largely ignoring the destitute.

The government might believe that healthy economic development should be able to narrow the glaring wealth gap. Rest assured that poverty and income inequality will be the scourge of the foreseeable economic development of Hong Kong.

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It is hoped that the government will pay heed to the criticism or opinions it receives in this regard, or ignore them at the city’s own peril.

Natalie Lam, Tseung Kwan O