Hong Kong’s paltry coronavirus relief is cold comfort to the jobless and needy
- If officials think that with a HK$10,000 cash handout, they have done their duty, they are sadly mistaken. When bad times hit, the poor are hit the hardest, and many are now in dire straits, with no social safety net to keep them afloat
If you are down and out, you had best hightail it out of Hong Kong. This city of Rolls-Royce and Gucci bags is the only modern metropolis without a social safety net.
I don’t understand how we can have a modern economy without unemployment benefits. These are basic taxpayer rights. But here, if you are out of work, you are basically on your own.
In the old days, officials saw themselves as “parent officials” who took care of their people as a family duty. But today’s officials, with their iron rice bowls, are immune to the pain of the people.
Hong Kong’s handout won’t last the needy a month. A poky subdivided flat alone eats up HK$6,000 per month in rent, plus utilities.
The labour lobby is demanding a bolder bailout plan – giving the jobless HK$5,800 each per month for half a year to help them ride out the crisis. For the army of furloughed workers who live hand to mouth, it’s literally a matter of life and death. With rent at sky-high levels, any relief is only a Band-Aid. The poor need longer-term solutions.
A HK$5,800 monthly subsidy would go a long way in much cheaper neighbouring mainland cities. Hong Kong’s severe housing shortage can only be solved by a regional approach. But thinking regional takes a leap of political imagination.
His folly changed our society forever. That’s the cause of much of the social unrest. Officials must now govern with a little political imagination and a large dose of compassion.
Philip Yeung is a freelance speech-writer and ghostwriter