Homeless by choice in Hong Kong: freedom maybe, but happiness?

  • The life former tutor Simon Lee has chosen seems very lonely. Hopefully he can use his learning to contribute to society
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2019, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2019, 5:01pm

I am writing in response to the article on Simon Lee, the homeless man who lives on leftovers from McDonald’s and handouts from a Sikh temple, and says he gets by just fine (“Perhaps the happiest homeless person in Hong Kong: ex-teacher Simon Lee”, January 26).

Mr Lee’s self-imposed life of living rough on the streets has released him from the pain of relationships and burden of material things. He said people often think of homeless people as dirty, battered and impolite. But the homeless have their own way of living and can have a very decent life.

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I appreciate Mr Lee’s determination to renounce his comfortable middle-class life. While many homeless people in Hong Kong are unable to rent a place because they are unemployed or have other financial difficulties, Mr Lee has chosen to be homeless. He holds a degree in chemistry and used to have a stable office job, but white-collar stress has made him quit the rat race. And, although he is now homeless, he still craves knowledge and frequents the library. He has attained the freedom many Hongkongers can only dream of.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have the courage to choose to be homeless as I wouldn’t be able to abandon my family and friends and live alone. Although being homeless affords much freedom and the possibility of a life free from pressure – no workload, no family disputes, no financial burden­ – it seems like a very lonely life. If I were him, I would make good use of my knowledge to contribute to society.

Chak Man Ting, Kwai Chung