23 May, 2013
In a Hong Kong Autonomy Movement (HKAM) seminar, Claudia Mo Man-ching, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Charles Peter Mok and Horace Chin Wan Kan exchanged views on Hong Kong’s population. The data provided by Gary Fan was particularly frightening, which depicts the plight we are facing. According to his data, including the fixed quota of One-way Permit, which has been implemented for a long time, there are over 70 million immigrants in Hong Kong since 1997, accounting for 10% of Hong Kong population. According to statistics, 58% of new immigrants reside in public housing, 19% are granted Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), which is the highest rate in the recent 15 years.
Both China patriots and believers of free-economy think that introducing new immigrants from China can ease off the ageing population and boost economy. However, the data Fan provided have exposed the scheme. In 1998, the median age of new immigrants in Hong Kong was 13, but recent years the median age has reached 36. How is this going to resolve the ageing problem of Hong Kong? The data also revealed that the educational background of these new immigrants is limited in general: around 70% of them hold secondary school qualifications, whilst more than 10% hold primary and around 10% hold university qualifications.
A total of 150 citizenship permits are given out to Chinese immigrants every day. However, the Hong Kong SAR government has no right to determine who will be granted with these permits, and it does not seem concern either. Hong Kong SAR government has no immigrant policies, and allow Chinese government to bully it over. Over 700,000 new immigrants in Hong Kong, of whom 50% of them are living in public housing with limited education qualifications, drives the growth of grass root population. However, the government has not established new population policy to adapt and failed to provide more benefits to the poor. For example, there has long been a shortage of public housing in Hong Kong, the local young generations worry for their future. However, they will not have the luck to live in public housings because these new immigrants will compete with them*.
When resources are limited, the population must be regulated. The Hong Kong SAR government is reluctant to take up the responsibilities by providing more benefits, and at the same time refuse to resolve the issue by accepting the influx of China new immigrants. By accepting these new immigrants, the government should have increased resources accordingly and should not have left the locals to bear the consequences caused by the influx. Otherwise, conflicts between locals and new immigrants are unavoidable.
The Hong Kong SAR government ignores the dramatic change in Hong Kong’s population structure and continues to practice British’s prudent financial management philosophy. After the brain drain in the 90s, the society almost collapsed. With the massive influx of grass root new immigrants after 1997, Hong Kong needs more social benefits to help these new immigrants to migrate into Hong Kong’s society. Or else, this is not simply re-colonisation, assimilation and homogenisation, but causing the downfall of the livelihood of local Hong Kongers. With such limited resources and continuously rising population, we will not have sufficient resources to help these new immigrants to migrate into the society. In return, the cost of integrating different people will raise and worsen the locals’ anxiety.
Many celebrities still hang up with the 60s and 70s old Hong Kong and insist that we need a large population and cheap labour to continue to develop. The truth is these people refuse to think and talk about the issue – the majority of us already knew what the problems are.
There is no point to regret for what has happened. The Hong Kong SAR government should immediately tighten the immigration policy and improve the people’s livelihood, so that the local Hong Kongers can afford to have children and raise them properly, and readjust social benefit policies. Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen (last Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR) once said that Hong Kong’s population should go up to 10 million, is this really a good thing? As the joke goes: “if one thinks a place can support eternal economic and population growth, he must be either an idiot or an economist”. These idiots in Hong Kong have already made their wealth, they have no idea about the problems grass roots face.
*There are numerous reports over the past decade that new immigrants from China apply for social benefits as soon as they arrive Hong Kong, which gives them priority to get public housing. However, for the locals who refuse to take benefits and prefer to take up a low paid job will not pass the income test (around US$1,400 a month for a family). With a low paid job, these youngsters can not afford to live in their own (rent for a 300 sq. ft. flat in Hong Kong could cost at least US$1,500 a month), let alone being able to have a family or further their studies. Hence, many are left with no choice but to live with their parents.