In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images
In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Jason Wordie
Opinion

Opinion

Then & Now by Jason Wordie

Denied an education in the name of ‘free market’ economy, the elderly, semi-literate Hong Kong cleaners and sweepers betrayed by its earlier administration

  • Neo-liberals venerate former Hong Kong financial secretary John Cowperthwaite, with his non-intervention creed, as the architect of city’s post-war ‘miracle’
  • Yet his opposition to compulsory free education left the children of poor families semi-literate at best, condemning them to menial service jobs in later life

In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images
In wet markets like this, swimming pools, parks and on the streets in Hong Kong is an army of underemployed and elderly cleaners and sweepers. They are the victims of colonial officials’ opposition to free compulsory education, which left those from poor families semi-literate at best. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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