Same challenges different responses
Leong Chun Ying has taken over as the new head of Hongkong. His maiden speech was about tackling the immediate challenges facing the island, high property prices, high income gap and social harmony. These are exactly the same problems that Sinkies are facing. And the Today paper has frontpaged the thoughts of Chan Chun Sing on the same issues yesterday.
The problems are recognized but how the govt is dealing with them can be filtered from Chan Chun Sing’s comments. Taking care of the low income and making sure they have enough to get by is relatively an easier issue to resolve. Raising productivity and increasing social transfers to ensure a basic standard of living for low wage earners will do the trick, and they will have enough to buy milk powder and other basic necessities. It is the aspirations of the highly educated Sinkies that are difficult to deal with. To the latter, it is how much more to have, I think, that is worrying. They need to own assets worth several millions before they are satisfied. For the lower income, they have little or no aspirations. Really?
Let me summarise, helping the rich getting richer is difficult, ie, no answers. Helping the poor with their basic needs is easy. Just make sure they have enough to eat and money to buy milk powder. They will survive. Some are doing very well with $2000 a month income. Why should those earning $5000 be complaining? So $2000 should be enough, afterall $1000 can already buy HDB flats. $2000 must be a luxury.
Now I understand why the income gap will not be narrowed. It is relative and matter of perception and lifestyle. Many can live on $2000. So what is the problem? In Hongkong, Leong is going to listen seriously to the voices and complaints of the people. Here, the income gap can simply be explained away as part of progress and nothing can be done. So is housing prices. Now what is the Hongkie govt going to do to narrow the income gap and high property prices? I don’t think they are going to say the same thing, or the problem is too difficult to resolve.
I think the Hongkie govt will have serious problems trying to solve these if the super talents here could not. The Hongkies did not claim to be super talents and are not drawing super talented pay and can be excused for being not so clever.