Talking Points: what can the government do to stop the elderly fighting over cardboard?

Compiled by Jamie Lam

Two women were arrested last Thursday for fighting over cardboard boxes, which many elderly in Hong Kong collect to exchange for money. What can the government do to prevent them from needing to do this?

Compiled by Jamie Lam |

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Some elderly subsist on money earned from collecting cardboard which sells for less than HK$1 per kg.

Tammy Mok, 17, Law Ting Pong Secondary School

The government should allow different groups of elderly people to collect cardboard. For example, people with the surname “Chan” should collect cardboard every Monday and Tuesday morning. Then the “Lees” would get their chance on Monday and Tuesday afternoon.

This will be fair for everyone and then nobody will fight over cardboard.

Thomas Kwan Ying-fung, 16, Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School

If the government wants to stop these fights, it should increase the old-age allowance. When the elderly get more money, they will feel more secure.

The authorities can also ask some charitable organisations to help the elderly, for example, by giving them free lunchboxes.

What’s more, government officials should talk to the elderly who are fighting over scraps of cardboard. When the government knows what the real problem is, it can introduce better policies to help the elderly.

Talking Points: does freedom of speech mean you can say whatever you want?

Anson Liu Hong-yau, 16, Wa Ying College

Hong Kong is an international city, but it is shameful that the elderly are fighting over scraps of cardboard in the streets. It’s time the government did something about this problem.

I think it should raise the old-age allowance, so the elderly would no longer have to sell cardboard to make a living. Also, old people should be offered better health care because they can easily fall ill and there’s nobody to take care of them. This would make their lives less stressful, and there wouldn’t be any fights.

Maybe the government could even launch a comprehensive pension scheme for elderly people so they could retire and lead a happy life.

Natalie Yu, 16, Leung Shek Chee College

Nowadays, many elderly people do not have a proper income or savings. So they collect and sell cardboard for a living. They get very little help from the government. Apart from food and rent, medical expenses have become a huge burden for them.

I think the government should offer better medical facilities for the elderly and extend the retirement age. Many elderly people are still very strong and can work. Even the government could offer them some work so they could earn some extra money.

If they have a stable income, they wouldn’t have to sell cardboard any more.

Elton Jim Man-hei, 16, St Louis School

Old people fighting over scraps of cardboard shows there is something clearly wrong in society. The root of this problem is the ageing population. It’s not that there are too many old people; the fact is there are too few youngsters who can help to take care of the elderly.

I believe the government should take steps to promote the birth rate and ensure a more balanced society. This way, elderly people can enjoy the final years of their lives without having to do dirty, back-breaking work.

This is a long-term solution, but as they say, better late than never.

In our next Talking Points, we'll discuss:

Should babies be given gender-neutral toys to prevent stereotypes from being formed at an early age?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to [email protected] by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne