Two Miles Apart
- 13 Posts
Two Lives/Two Miles Apart
One of the main problems in Hong Kong is the massive wealth gap that exists between the rich and the poor. As it is an international financial centre, Hong Kong is the home of Asia’s richest man (Li Ka Shing), and a surging number of millionaires. A recent statistic shows that one in every 38 people in Hong Kong is a US millionaire. Glancing at Hong Kong’s towering skyline, modern buildings, high class shopping centres, and technological development, it is shocking to see that one fifth of the Hong Kong population is living in poverty. Around 1.3 million people are living below the poverty. Growing inequality between the rich and the poor poses a massive problem to the government. Housing prices are sky high, having doubled since 2009, with tiny apartments being sold off for millions of dollars. Hong Kong’s median home price is 12.6 times the annual median household income. Achieving balanced economic development is crucial for Hong Kong. But to take action against the wealth gap, we must first understand what the wealth gap truly looks like, instead of taking cursory glances at one dimensional statistics and numbers.
Severn Road, a winding street of mansions and apartments, is the priciest address on the planet. Properties here cost more per square foot than everywhere else. Properties are valued at US $78,2000 per square meter. Today, prices continue to rise. People live in luxury- luxury cars, luxury clothes, luxury foods. Money is no object, and youth live in absolute security. There is no worrying for the future- their parents have ensured that they are secure for life. To many, there is no such thing as an unfulfilled want.
Close to Severn Road, tens of thousands of Hong Kong’s poorest live in 6 ft by 2 ft “cage homes”. 2007, there were approximately 53,200 people living in cage homes. They live in metal cages, but still have to pay USD $170 to live in these degrading, inhumane "homes". Reports from the Legislative Council of Hong Kong found that the people who lived in cage homes were those who did not qualify for any form of social welfare, subsidised rent or electricity. The conditions are cramped, dirty, and unsafe. High housing prices have forced people to take refuge in these homes. Because living spaces are so congested, people feel desperate and depressed. The youth living here have no security- many drop out from school at early ages to work in low paying jobs with little mobility or chances of improving their current life. It is impossible to save up enough money to move out for better conditions- many are stuck, powerless to lift themselves out of poverty.
These two communities are so very close together, but paradoxically, they are also so very far apart. The rich are untouchable, shrouded in luxury, while the poor are continually suffering. This isn't a phenomenon unique to Hong Kong- it happens all across the world, as industrialisation, technology, and development has often made the rich richer, and the poor poorer.
Have you experienced anything similar? Does your community have a wide wealth gap? What can be done to alleviate this wealth gap? I'd love to read any comments you have!