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|August 8th, 2005, 06:22 AM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
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Tackling Kwun Tong's Poverty
Old boomtown faces new woes
August 8, 2005
Hong Kong Standard
Over the past four decades the once-thriving community of Kwun Tong has become one of the poorest districts in Hong Kong. With no immediate plans for urban renewal, the area of 570,000 has now become the focal point of the Poverty Commission, a government body set up earlier this year and headed by Financial Secretary Henry Tang.
Kwun Tong is one of three districts targeted by the commission for a pilot study assessing the level of help needed to alleviate poverty.
Kwun Tong, which lies opposite the old Kai Tak airport runway, was one of the first satellite towns in Hong Kong and the first to have a District Council in 1982.
However, the district traces its roots to the Song Dynasty, in the twelfth and thirteenth century, when it was a boomtown. The area around Kwun Tong's foothills, including Kowloon Bay, was dotted with saltpans which became an important source of government revenue through the production of salt and the collection of taxes from salt producers.
Today, the area is facing rapid urban decay, dotted with old factory blocks and housing estates which were developed in 1960s, a time when large-scale reclamation was carried out along the coast of Kowloon East to provide land for industrial development. The aging population, the decline of manufacturing and decreasing jobs saw the area slip into poverty, according to Ho Hei-wah, director of the Society for Community Organization, a non-governmental organization.
The "old and poor'' image is not only demonstrated by the town's appearance but also by the government's statistics.
The median monthly domestic household income of the district in 2004 was HK$13,100, the third lowest in Hong Kong, compared with the territory-wide monthly income of HK$15,500.
The unemployment rate in the district was 8 percent in 2004, ranked sixth highest among the territory's 18 districts.
The district also has the second highest number of old people. The elderly comprise 16.3 percent of the district's population, which is well above the territory-wide average of 11.7 percent. Only one other district, Sham Shui Po, has a larger percentage of elderly people.
Kwun Tong has the highest number of old-age Comprehensive Social Security Allowance cases in the whole of Hong Kong. One resident, Chan Yue-man, 68, is now receiving HK$4,000 from the CSSA monthly which he shares with his wife who emigrated to Hong Kong 18 months ago and who is not eligible for the dole.
He limits his daily spending to no more than HK$50 each day. "It's been many years since I bought any clothes or major article in Hong Kong for the home,'' Chan said. "Instead, I wait until I get the opportunity to go to the mainland where goods are much cheaper.''
Alarmingly, Kwun Tong is now the district with the third highest number of domestic violence cases - both child and spouse abuse.
A Kwun Tong Social Welfare office spokeswoman said the violence was possibly triggered by financial hardship. "Most family violence victims are housewives who were not locally born, and more than 70 percent of the families receiving welfare services for domestic violence involve mainland-Hong Kong couples who rely on the CSSA or have low incomes,'' the spokesman said.
Currently the Social Welfare Department is carrying out an 18-month trial scheme by holding regular forums on family violence.
Although the government denies it is neglecting the area, authorities have been slow to act to upgrade poverty-stricken neighborhoods through urban redevelopment.
An Urban Renewal Authority spokesman said that although no plan has been started, a five-hectare project will commence in early 2007 involving "dozens of billions of dollars.'' This project was first announced by the predecessor to the URA, the former Lands Development Authority in 1998.
|August 8th, 2005, 04:07 PM||#3|
Join Date: Apr 2005
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i think kwun tong is not too middle class
cos many public housing in there
but its at least richer than sham shui po and kowloon city
|August 13th, 2005, 04:32 PM||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2005
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i lived in Kwun Tong when i was young, about ten years ago
the accommodation is very poor, especially hygiene problem
the buildings are too old
I'm not a native speaker :D
If I make some mistake in English, please correct me