Thursday, April 24, 2014

Refugees amid luxury

On my way to a meeting at the Education Bureau today, I saw that a number of refugee claimants continued to camp out on the sidewalk of Queen’s Road East, outside Wu Chung Building.  They are protesting against poor treatment by the Social Welfare Department and alleged corruption by the International Social Services.  

Less than 100 meters away, promotion of luxurious items in celebration of Easter were laid out outside Hopewell Building.  Mind you, these are nothing compared to ostentatious shops on Canton Road, with the long lines of people trying to get in, as if the goods are for free.  Yes,  I do understand many of the shoppers for the luxury good are from China Mainland.  Yet, there are plenty of Hong Kong people among the shoppers. The contrast was simply jarring, when I walked pass them in quick succession.  

If we in Hong Kong are wealthy enough to splurge on unneeded luxury, surely we can afford to treat the refugees among us a little better?  Yes, I understand the usual arguments against making their lives too easy.  That many of them are not really escaping from persecution, political, religious, or otherwise.  That many of them are really economic refugees seeking a more comfortable living.  That if we are too nice to them, it might encourage more of them to come.  There may even be some validity to these arguments. 

Still, we can surely afford to treat them a little better.  For the sake of humanity?

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