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The Corner for Political & Business Views — Disorders Originated from Hardship of Living


 “Five key demands, not one less” has been the slogan of many youngsters in the midst of the frequent social disorders we witnessed during the last few months. Many criticized that these people are “disrupting Hong Kong”. Others, on the contrary, said, people went onto the street because they are “having a hard time to survive”. I cannot help but ask, is it not true that people are “having a hard time to survive” in spite of the prosperity of Hong Kong?


When I said people are having a hard time, I am not saying they are in rags or like those who are living in third world countries. Instead, they are in an international city but they have to live hand to mouth. The starting salary of an ordinary university graduate is usually just a bit more than 10 thousand dollars, which is very much the same with the salaries of those graduated a decade ago. Yet, they still have to repay their student loans and take care of huge expenses related to transport, accommodation, food, medication and insurance. For those who are lucky, after working really hard for a few years, their salaries would have been increased to 30 to 40 thousand dollars. That is when they start planning for marriage and thinking how they can purchase one of those shoebox “starter homes” that costs a few million dollars — which probably is an unreachable dream. Trying to break free from the chains, some decided to start their own businesses but ended up gloomy because of the competition online and high rents.


Imagining these issues alone is an extremely tormenting experience, more than a million young people in Hong Kong, however, are really facing such pressure.


I believe this is the consequence of Hong Kong’s application of the “big market, small government” principle. The results are monopolies by large companies, a lack of diversity in economic development, wealth disparity in the society and overconsumption of resources. At the same time, the government still “holds onto” the non-intervention policy, which allows the deterioration of various imbalances.


Take property prices and rents as an example. The governments of China and Singapore have been trying their best to prevent the overheating of property markets because accommodation is very much related to the livelihood of people. It appears what they did is more forethoughtful when compared to the Hong Kong government, which allowed home prices to be out of control, to an extent that most of the population cannot afford their homes. Moreover, free market economy is not always advantageous. In the face of different issues in the market, the government should be more flexible because each policy has its own characteristics. It is advisable to take the benefits of a policy and compensate the disadvantages.


Chairman of Asia Allied Infrastructure


Dominic Pang

(This is a Chinese-to-English translation by Corporate Communications Department. The original article has been published in Headline Daily on 9 September 2019.)

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Mr. Pang Yat Ting, Dominic


By Mr. Pang Yat Ting, Dominic


Executive Director