As an international commercial hub in Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong is always impressed with prosperous and wealthy. Hong Kong is ranked at the 1st place in the economic freedom status all over the world(News.gov.hk, 2016) as well as the most competitive economy in the world.(News.gov.hk, 2016) The government efficiency and business efficiency was ranked first globally, and economic performance is also improving in 2016.(News.gov.hk, 2016) For a city that have a high status in economic development, no one would think that Hong Kong would linked with poverty.
However, Hong Kong is a city that having a severe income gap problem. Hong Kong’s Gini Coefficient has reached 0.53, which is one of the highest in Asia. One-fifth of the population was defined as poor by the Hong Kong government, which means that their income is under HK$3,500 per month. This shows that the poverty problem is also an issue that need to be concerned in Hong Kong.
Then how about the life of the people living under the poverty line? A typical case for the people living under the poverty line shows that they need to use at least HK$4,000 to live for a month, even the amount could only afford for the basic food, transport and communication, living in a small flat with 30 square feet, and never seeing a doctor or buying new clothes. (The Initium, 2016) It may be unbelievable for having a so serious poor problem in Hong Kong, but it is the truth.
Richest people in Hong Kong earns 29 times of those poorest. (SCMP, 2016) This kind of phenomenon made people dissatisfied with the performance of the government, as the government always promote the economic prosperity of Hong Kong, but the never share the fruit of the economic achievement. Support rate of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong only reached 35% (HKUPOP, 2016), which reflects how Hong Kong people angry with the government. Then how did the government cope with the problem of poverty?
The Commission of Poverty was set up in 2005, but later dismissed in 2007. It was re-setup in 2012,(News.gov.hk, 2012) and set up the poverty line in 2014. Numbers of policies have been promoted to relief sooth the problem of poverty problem in Hong Kong.(Lam, 2016) However, Hong Kong’s poverty figure still hits six-year high in 2016. (SCMP, 2016)
Moreever, many of the poor people actually could not benefit from those policies. Some of the poor people in Hong Kong was called as “N-don’t have”, their income is so low and don’t need to pay taxes, so they could not benefit from tax refund policy. They are not living in the public housing, therefore they still need to afford high rent and could not benefit from the rent-waiver policy for public housing. As they may not the original tenant of the house they live, they even could not benefit from the subsidy for electricity bills. Those people are the poorest people in Hong Kong, but they never benefit from the policies of Hong Kong government. (Oriental Daily, 2012)
Hong Kong would be electing their new Chief Executive in next year. How would the new Chief Executive cope with the issue of poverty would be definitely a key problem that Hong Kong people would concern. Not only for Hong Kong, but all of the developed economies has to think about how their economy was boosted, as well as how is the life of the people in their country/region. Make the economy prosperous is important, but it is also essential for sharing the fruit of economic achievement to the common people.
by Wai Lun SO (M00601209)
HKUPOP, 2016. Rating of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Available at: https://www.hkupop.hku.hk/english/popexpress/ce2012/cy/poll/datatables.html [Accessed 15 December 2016]
Lam, C. 2016. Welcome Message. Commission of Poverty. Available at: http://www.povertyrelief.gov.hk/eng/welcome.html [Accessed 15 December 2016]
News.gov.hk, 2012. Commission on Poverty convenes first meeting (with photos). Available at: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201212/10/P201212100425.htm [Accessed 15 December 2016]
News.gov.hk, 2016. Hong Kong once again ranked first in the world in economic freedom. Available at: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201609/15/P2016091500703.htm?fontSize=1 [Accessed 15 December 2016]
News.gov.hk, 2016. Hong Kong ranked world’s most competitive economy. Available at: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201605/31/P201605310042.htm [Accessed 15 December 2016]
Oriental Daily, 2012. 政情：N無人士預算案中空寶. Available at: http://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/news/20120202/00176_089.html [Accessed 15 December 2016]
SCMP, 2016. Hong Kong government slammed as poverty figure hits six-year high. Accessed from: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2028422/hong-kong-government-slammed-poverty-figure-hits-six-year [Accessed 15 December 2016]
SCMP, 2016. Hong Kong’s richest earn 29 times of what poorest get paid despite government efforts to fight poverty: report. Accessed from: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2027090/hong-kongs-richest-earn-29-times-more-poorest-despite [Accessed 15 December 2016]
The Initium, 2016. 七幅圖告訴你香港窮人怎樣捱. Accessed from: https://theinitium.com/article/20151013-hongkong-povertyline2014/ [Accessed 15 December 2016]