Intelligent, thinking, inquiring laymen should have no problem reviewing all the information accessible to them and accepting that the overwhelming majority of highly trained and equipped scientists who accept the theory of evolution do so for good reason. Much the same can be said about climate change, even if the mechanics of what is happening are less well understood than DNA and natural selection, so things are a bit hazier. But when it comes to Hong Kong government statisticians’ population forecasts and the Great Aging Society Menace, we are entitled to be skeptics.
You don’t need a PhD in number-crunching to know that a straight-line extrapolation is often meaningless, but that is how the last government of Chief Executive Donald Tsang, in particular, did demographic forecasts. Although the scarier predictions seem to have been toned down, the latest figures still lead to alarming reports that ”…growth in our gray-haired population will strain medical, housing and welfare services and probably increase the waiting time for a place in a care home.”
This doesn’t have to be true. We could have a higher retirement age, youthful immigration from the Mainland or the Philippines (or Burma? – we’re talking 2041 here), encouragement for the old to retire offshore, robots that wash the dishes and do hip replacements, a comet that wipes the whole planet out… Anything could happen.
But that’s not the message that the residual propagators of Sir Bow-Tie’s thinking in the bureaucracy want to spread. Their agenda is: keep recurrent spending down (so we will have some spare when 90-year-olds are flooding the hospitals) and meanwhile devote lots of funds to infrastructure, so all those extra people will have roads and bridges to drive on. In short, give our wealth to Donald’s tycoon friends.
In the CY Leung era, it would be nice to think that some politicians would stand up and question the Census and Statistics Department’s stale scaremongering. Chances are, they will be too busy flinging mud around.
With nominations for September’s Legislative Council elections now closed, there will be an average six candidates fighting for each geographical constituency seat. Although Legco has been enlarged, the number of GCs remains the same, so a constituency can return up to nine members, meaning we will probably see people get in with below 10% of the vote. The pro-democrats, when not abusing each other, will accuse the pro-Beijing folk of supporting national education brainwashing; Beijing officials based in the Liaison Office will leak all the dirt they can find about the pro-dems’ illegal structures and Mainland mistresses. It will be terrific fun.
But before that, we need to get a bit of dullness out of the way. First off the blocks this morning on the Mid-Levels Escalator – a transport system almost purpose-built to funnel voters past campaign workers – was former Security Secretary Regina Ip’s exciting New People’s Party. Soho was festooned with bright banners featuring the lady, plus a slightly gullible-looking candidate called Dennis Wong. He won’t win a Hong Kong Island seat, but Regina presumably will. Funny thing: you will never meet anyone who admits to voting for her.