More than 50 struggling Hong Kong residents including members of ethnic minority communities and former offenders are appealing to the government to include them in a HK$10,000 e-voucher scheme. The Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), which is behind the appeal, said the rigid rules over the handout went against the spirit of providing financial aid to residents facing hardship amid the city’s fifth coronavirus wave. “To some people, the consumption vouchers are a lifesaver,” SoCO community organiser Ng Wai-tung told the Post . The NGO, which supports the city’s poorest residents, said ethnic minority communities and former offenders were two groups struggling through the outbreak and deserved help. Both groups would benefit greatly from the e-voucher scheme, he said, which provides recipients digital vouchers worth HK$10,000 to spend at restaurants, shops and on public transport. About 6.6 million people are eligible for the scheme, including permanent residents aged 18 and above and new immigrants from mainland China. The e-vouchers are distributed in two rounds, with the first in April and the second in the summer. Ethnic minority groups bear brunt of Hong Kong’s latest Covid-19 blame game Noor Sanna, a 30-year-old housewife who came to Hong Kong four years ago from Pakistan, said she was upset at being excluded even though her family was spending more during the fifth wave. Her husband, a 28-year-old construction worker, earns HK$15,000 a month. The pair live with their two children in a 130 sq ft subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po, paying a monthly rent of HK$5,800. “The price of everything has increased during the pandemic, especially rapid-test kits,” she said. Two former offenders, who declined to disclose why they were jailed, said they were finding it hard to make ends meet, adding the e-vouchers would be a great help if only they were eligible. Nguyen Ducky, 60, a former construction worker who came to Hong Kong from Vietnam 21 years ago, said he was eligible to apply for public housing but not the e-vouchers. He said he had been jailed multiple times, finishing his previous sentence in 2017, but had stopped working two years ago because of work-related injuries. “I don’t have any income,” he said, adding that he spent around HK$5,000 a month with the help of family and friends. “I would buy more daily necessities if I had the HK$10,000 e-vouchers.” Hong Kong property developer first to offer up goodies to e-voucher shoppers Billy Fu, 52, who came to Hong Kong from mainland China 11 years ago and was released from jail three years ago, said he already needed subsidies to cover living costs. “Without financial support from the government, I can’t even afford the rent,” said Fu, a former chef who quit seven years ago because of injuries. Social welfare lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen urged the government to be flexible in implementing its relief measures. “The financial support should go to those residents in most need, which was the original intention of the scheme,” he said. Lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan also called on authorities to ease the eligibility criteria so the e-voucher scheme could benefit more people, including foreigners who had been in the city for years. “A more flexible policy doesn’t mean we are challenging the Immigration Ordinance,” she said.