What should be done about the poverty-stricken street sleepers in Shamshuipo? Restaurant owner Chan Cheuk-ming achieved public acclaim a while ago for giving them free meals. But district officials were unimpressed, accusing him of ‘encouraging’ the indigent, and attracting more of them to come prowling into the neighbourhood. The bureaucrats had been considering a ‘capture-neuter-release’ scheme as a humane alternative to swifter, permanent solutions to the problem. Now this sentimental old man comes along with legions of gullible teenage fans, handing out lunch boxes and leading the homeless and poor to expect regular food.
But Chan has hit back, and the soft-hearted popular mood seems to be with him, leaving the Home Affairs and Social Welfare departments in the humiliating position of having to apologize to the very community they are supposed to be controlling, and even publicly endorsing the Pei Ho Restaurant’s reckless interference in the natural Darwinian order.
There is an obvious echo here with the recent drama over handouts for people living in substandard housing. One minute, officials rule out including residents of illegal dwellings, because illegal dwellings are illegal. Then, under pressure from an over-emotional and mawkish public, they backtrack, giving carte-blanche to people who have a wide choice of perfectly good flyovers to sleep under to move into old factories that the law strictly says may not be used as housing. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam obeys that law – so should everyone else.
For those whose diligence, sobriety and hard work keep them from being a burden on their fellow man, I declare the weekend open.