Sunday, January 01, 2017

Down and Out on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, many people were having posh dinners and parties, watching fireworks, and otherwise trying to have a good time.  Our family went to a Japanese restaurant for a regular family dinner.  We were turned off by the $1,000+ per person charge.  It would have costed our family of 4 more than $5,000 Hong Kong dollars.  It is enough to put a student in a university on Mainland China for a year.  Or to pay a primary school teacher in many South East Asian countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar for half a year, or a university lecturer for 2 months.  We ended up eating a nice dinner at another Japanese restaurant at a small fraction of the price.  

I recalled I was reminded of the harsh realities of life when I ran into a reminder of a colourful character - the self-proclaimed “Emperor of Kowloon”  九龍皇帝 曾灶財.  He was, in reality, a poor man in poor health who wrote big-character graffiti all over Kowloon.  Since he passed away in 2007, most of his graffiti have been painted over by the government.  This column in front of the Start Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the very few remaining.  I wonder how long it will last.  

Canton Road is lined with posh shops.  But less than 1 kilometre away from those shops, many people were sleeping in the tunnel at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road. 

Further up in Yau Ma Tei, several little makeshift “houses” have sprung up under the elevated highway.  

I know there are similar street sleepers under the highway in Shum Shui Po.  But this is the first time I have seen them here. 

The government have posted notices demanding that the inhabitants evacuate and the structures be dismantled.  

I suspect that the problem would not go away easily.  The reality is that many people simply cannot afford to rent a decent apartment, when a 150 square feet apartment rents for more than $5,000.  

Not everyone is having a happy new year.  

1 comment:

YTSL said...

I went to a wonderful New Year's Eve concert at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre but felt sad both before and after the concert as I passed by makeshift sleeping spaces erected by homeless people in the pedestrian underpass leading to and from it. As much as I appreciate the Hong Kong government doing such as subsidizing the arts, I wish that it would do so much more for the homeless and less economically well off among Hong Kong's residents.