CY hits the ground – eventually – gently ambling

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung finally unveils some interim measures to remind everyone that he is here to do a bit of people-oriented government. The mini-policy address he gave to the Legislative Council yesterday contained no radical reforms, but the handouts were more coherent than in the Financial Secretary’s average budget. If John Tsang released a Greatest Hits album it would be like this: only half a dozen tracks, competently done but not especially memorable.

The whole package is worth HK$7 billion – roughly 2 percent of this year’s government expenditure, or a tenth of last year’s budget surplus. Most of the money goes towards doubling the means-tested Old Age Allowance to HK$2,200 a month. To multi-millionaire lawmakers in the Civic Party, this might be a blatant and desperate attempt to divert everyone’s attention from CY’s trellis and carport roof, but for some 300,000 elderly poor getting by on HK$3,400 a month, it’s a major deal. (Such people can apply for basic CSSA welfare support, but are dissuaded by the system’s more rigorous (or humiliating) procedures.)

Medical vouchers that go to all elderly will double from HK$500 to HK$1,000 a year. With public hospital visits often free to poorer over-65s and much private health care costing megabucks, it’s hard to see what the old folk will spend the vouchers on, but they will no doubt find something.

A re-jigging of second-hand sales of subsidized housing and of public housing eligibility criteria gives a glimpse of the mess Hong Kong is in after years of a widening wealth gap and a surge in housing costs. It can be summed up with the Transport and Housing Secretary’s words, “Because we have to accommodate more people within public rental housing…” Why do we have to? Because we’re too petrified to even think about making private-sector housing more affordable.

The rest of the measures are to some extent gimmicky money-flinging, but are at least targeted in vaguely deserving directions.

The plan to provide 3,000 mini-units for up to five years in subsidized youth ‘hostels’ to below-35s earning less than HK$17,000 a month looks a bit silly; you don’t know whether to envy or pity the lucky winners of this lottery. Still, it is another reminder of what happens when you make private housing too expensive for most people to afford, and a credit to the makers of the King’s Cube video, whose satire must have played a role in this.

Also announced by the Home Affairs Secretary: HK$500 million for social enterprises’ micro-financing something-or-other, which sounds all very trendy. Such businesses strive to make a profit while serving a particular cause, like hiring disabled workers. In many cases, public subsidies make them viable because it means they can afford workspace – another reminder of land-policy failure.

It would have been nice to hear CY say something to make people think about what genuine reform could mean. For example: “If housing is expensive, people have less to spend on other things, and as a result we have fewer businesses and jobs. But if housing is cheaper, people have more money to spend on other things, which means more businesses can start up in different industries and provide more jobs. I would like everyone in the community to ask themselves which they think is the better course for Hong Kong to take.”

Maybe later. Maybe not.

Click to hear ‘Revelation in Slow Motion’ by Count Five!


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16 Responses to CY hits the ground – eventually – gently ambling

  1. Gazza Gay says:

    Hostels for young men! All together now:


  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    YMCA – Yeah !

    Same thought occurred to me as to Gazza

    Check out the youtube link below ( if it works), or else just search Youtube for the original Village People 1978 video of “YMCA” . It’s hilarious . ( I just love the cowboy guy)


    But at least I can now see my tax money going to some good causes, especially old people who most need and deserve it. For that cause alone I will more happily pay my dues to the IRD

    Go it CY ! You may yet make a difference for good.

    Meanwhile in stop press news the USA in it’s usual obnoxiously arrogant way has slammed HSBC for blatant money laundering.

    Hark at the pot calling the kettle black !

    Because meanwhile, the USA has just recently become “officially” aware that a critical item of equipment in nuclear centrifuges for uranium enrichment in Iran has all these past few years been made and sold by an American company ( surprise surprise) , despite the fact that pics of this particular American-made item have been available for years on google images – and even youtube. And what does the USA do ? They arrest the Chinese salesman whom the USA manufacturer allowed to sell the things to Iran and make him the fall guy. No mention of his USA bosses being arrested despite the fact it takes an IQ of only room temperature to realize that the thousands of these things being sold to China were obviously being re- exported to Iran ( or N. Korea, or both) .

  3. Mary Hinge says:

    He did OK, I’ll admit. The fruit money increase was a good move. Something a bit more ‘root and branch’ on the property front (as alluded to in your closing, Hemmers) would have really been good to hear.

    In your picture, I like his apparent posture to the legislators: “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”.

  4. FB3 says:

    Does anyone have a link for a Chinese translated version of the YMCA dance.

    I’d pay good money to see it.

  5. Stephen says:

    Boy did good yesterday.

    Contrast this with Donald – who made building Tamar his first objective. We should have known then how the next seven years were going to pan out.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Mary Hinge

    I like your last comment 😉
    To me it was more like a Dirty Harry:
    “Go on shoot me. Make my day ”

    Or maybe Cool Hand Luke’s :
    “I think what we got here is a little case of misunderstanding”

    @ FB3

    1. google ” YMCA lyrics ”

    2. cut n paste to google / options / translate / english – chinese

    ( that’s for free)

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Sorry : I mis-quoted Cool Hand Luke

    Here’s the actual quote which if anything seems even more apt the way everyone is beating up on Cool Hand Leung


    The phrase “What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate” is a quotation from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, spoken at different points in the movie first by Strother Martin (as the Captain, a prison warden) and later Paul Newman (as Luke, a young prisoner).

    The context of the delivery of the line is :

    Captain : “You gonna get use to wearing them chains after a while Luke. Don’t you never stop listening to them clinking, they gonna remind you about what I been saying for your own good.”

    Luke : “I wish you’d stop being so good to me Captain”

    Captain : “Don’t you ever talk that way to me” NEVER!” (hitting him)

    Captain : “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”


    Later in the film, Luke fires the same line back at the Captain and his men, after being caught while escaping and just before being gunned down


    (This does indeed sound uncannily like a Legco meeting)

  8. Pcrghll says:

    Strewth. No more coffee for RTP

  9. So, So Thirsty says:

    Strange that someone else has a ‘movie’ moment when it comes to our CE.

    In my minds eye, I see a scene from a Bond movie with a mysterious, inscrutable & malevolent villain named CY. He is played by Louis Jourdan (a striking resemblance I feel), wearing a black silk Mao jacket, buttoned to the neck. The villain has just dismissed a group of lowly petitioners – Albert Ho, Tanya Chan & Lee Cheuk-Yan – and they are being ushered out by a creepy, fawning, obsequious, hand-wringing minion, played by Jasper Tsang Yok-Sing. As the door closes behind his erstwhile guests, he turns to his loyal henchman (played by Andy Tsang) and, in a low, calm and thoroughly chilling voice, whispers “Kill them”.

    No, I wouldn’t like to live in my mind either.

  10. Gazza says:

    Can only find the Japanese version…close enough?

  11. maugrim says:

    Young man, HK’s not a cheap town
    where a podium’s one foot from the ground.
    I said, young man, 10 million in a new town
    There’s no need to be unhappy.

    Young man, there’s a place you can go.
    I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough.
    You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find
    Many ways to have a good time.

    It’s fun to stay at CY’s place
    It’s fun to stay at at CY’s place

    They have everything for you men to enjoy,
    You can hang out with all the boys…

    More lyrics:

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    ….and there’s also a Red Indian version !

    Try this link or else search Youtube for ” YMCA Amazing Christopher”

    (this one really has to be seen to be believed : I reckon that’s how there are so many Kwok brothers )

  13. Caroni Ma says:

    And Rita Fan would play the lush Bond girl who walked out of the surf onto the beach with nothing on but the sound of calypso….. (cue ‘Bond’ tune)

  14. FB3 says:

    Thanks but I was thinking more along the lines of using Chinese characters for the hand & arm movements of Y M C A instead of romanised style

  15. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Gazza Already

    LOVE IT !

    Made my day !


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