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Ageing society

Imposing a ‘penalty’ on Hong Kong’s jobless elderly is simply offensive

  • Civil servants who back the idea should get a taste of their own medicine
  • This and other missteps by Carrie Lam’s cabinet colleagues are making the chief executive’s job more difficult
PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2019, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2019, 5:04pm

I suggest that all civil servants in Hong Kong who subscribe to the logic that our impoverished elderly who do not try to find a job should be slapped with a “penalty fine” of HK$200 (US$25) should, in all fairness, impose on themselves a similar penalty so that they – our public servants – could do some useful work instead of spouting such offensive, warped logic (“Look for work, or get less cash, government tells preretirement recipients”, January 25).

Since HK$200 is about 10 per cent of the HK$2,525 that CSSA recipients of between 60 and 64 years old are expected to be collecting monthly from February 1, let us deduct 10 per cent of these civil servants’ six-digit salaries as symbolic punishment – just to be fair!

I sincerely sympathise with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. When she was second in command to an unpopular chief executive who could not get anything past the strong opposition, she single-handedly got things moving. Now that she is the chief executive, she just has no able secretaries in the government to help her and continues to do everything single-handedly. I would be thankful if her subordinates did not mess things up!

Carrie Lam must remember who her friends are

Her finance secretary produced a first budget rated as leaning towards the sandwich class (which pay the highest taxes as percentage of income but receive the least welfare benefits), did not have the guts to defend it, then devised a scheme to dish out HK$4,000 per qualified head – a scheme so complicated as to deter application.

Then the secretary for welfare, who smuggled through the item in the policy proposal to raise the eligibility age for elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance from 60 to 65, explained that after cutting the subsidy for the 60-64 age group by about HK$1,000, those who do not join a job-seeking scheme will lose HK$200 more. Amid a storm of protests, he has relented and postponed this penalty by six months. That is seen as fair action towards this group of people, defined as being only middle-aged by him for a 120-year lifespan he dreamed up.

Then there is the secretary for justice whose professional judgment the chief executive asks us to respect when large numbers query that judgment. Poor Mrs Lam.

Rupert Chan, Mid-Levels