Once the door is open it becomes hard to close again.
Hong Kong has never been the most generous place on earth if you want a handout! And I for one, in general, have no problem with that concept. There are far too many people we read about in other parts of the world who expect to live on handouts from the Government, as if it is an "entitlement" and this needs to be kept under control. BUT, there are always genuine and deserving exceptions. You can and should be prepared to assist those who are not so fortunate as you. Humanitarian acts, although sadly even these are often open to abuse, should be the basis on which we live.
We also need to live in a world where we are prepared to open our doors to others, but with appropriate safeguards for our own people, although this too can eventually become a sore point for local residents. In Hong Kong, for example, there were concerns raised about the growing numbers of Vietnamese Boat People we took in during the 1970s and 1980s. A humanitarian act to be sure, but it lead to violence. Today, we have a burning issue over the cost of accommodation. Properties here have been bought up by people from Mainland China for whom cost seems to be less of an issue for them as it provides perhaps a “bolt-hole” in a different location to their own. We now have hospital beds being booked in advance by Mainland mothers-to-be because they want their children to be born in Hong Kong. But this makes maternity beds scarce for Hong Kong residents.
The trade off, if there is one and despite the negatives of our “open door”, is that many businesses in Hong Kong would not have survived unless Mainland Chinese had not been allowed over the border to come and support the Hong Kong economy, by spending money here.
So, open the doors appropriately by all means, but maintain the controls so that the ability of people to obtain an unfair advantage over the local population is at least kept in check.
Okay, by now with and with some justification you may be saying, where is all this leading? Well, to a cautionary tale for other countries, including Hong Kong.
It was, quite simply, a newspaper headline that caught my eye from the United Kingdom that read, "You're a soft touch" “There’s no chance we’re leaving. British benefits give me and my daughter a good life.”
The Lithuanian lady concerned is receiving HK$3,400 a week in benefits (not including a fully furnished two bedroom apartment - free). She lives well, and spends her money on designer clothing and other luxuries. And even she admittedly finds the system "strange", although she did think that the benefits should include paying for a nanny to look after her daughter.
To me, that's nuts. No wonder that people in Britain are deserting the main political parties, and giving more time to fringe parties like the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). A party fiercely opposed to the European Union or rather, the UK's membership of it, because it is EU laws that allow this sort of benefit abuse to happen. And it therefore does become an "entitlement". One of the trends in our world today is this growing sense of "you owe me", without the "me" making any contribution whatsoever. In fact it is better for some people to be on "benefits" in Britain, than working. And somewhere, some time, a line is going to be drawn that will make people unhappy.
But the door is open. Try closing it now!