[some words/information of original letter are omitted here for protection of privacy]

Mr Andrew K P Leung, J.P.
Director of Social Welfare
Social Welfare Department
Wu Chung House, 8/F,
213 Queen's Road East, Wai Chai,
Hong Kong
(fax: 2838 0114)

sent by fax only
c. c.
Ms Y, Assistant to Clerk to Social Security Appeal Board,
  Social Welfare Department (c/o fax 28335821);
Mr P, SSO II, Mongkok Social Security Field Unit,
   Social Welfare Department (c/o fax 23934499);
Ms A, SSA, Mongkok Social Security Field Unit,
Social Welfare Department (c/o fax 23934499);
Hong Kong Council of Social Service;
Society for Community Organisation;
Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong;
Chairman, Church Workers Association;
Mr. Lau Chin Shek, Legislative Councillor;
Mr. Lee Chek Yan, Legislative Councillor.
29th April 2000
Dear Sir,

Ref: X's social security application, Case no: MKKC37XXX
(to protect privacy, X's full name is concealed in this letter)

I am so sorry to bother you, but it is a matter of life and living, I sincerely hope that you and your department could help this miserable youth and let her to live a basic dignified material human life.

Ms X, aged around 30, has received a month total subsidy of $2700 (which includes $1260 as handicap subsidy) for more than one year until last month, and will received a much reduced subsidy of only $1260 from April/May onwards. She is jobless for over one year, facing the great number of jobless in our society at present, anyone can understand it is not her fault only that she fails to find a job, and she is very eager to seek job, but fails every time, and she is much less competitive to other job-seekers since... [someinformation of original letter is concealed here]. Before, she managed to survive with great hardship with the monthly grant $2700, that is, she can only spent $90 a day, don't you think it was a very poor living standard already for an adult? Now, even much worst, with $1260 a month, that is $42 daily, this is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE and SHE JUST CANNOT SURVIVE with this FOURTH-TWO DOLLARS in each single day!

Yesterday I have talked about X's case over the phone with Ms  of Social Security Appeal Board, and Mr P and Ms A of Mongkok Social Security Field Unit. The reply was horrible. I was told that since X is living with her parents, therefore there is no problem with her two meals and lodging. Upon asking what about X's breakfast, travel expenditure for job-seeking, clothing, etc, I was told that this is not their concern and would not be considered in details! Your staff just failed completely to address my simple query that what X should spend daily and how much money she could get. This is not surprising since your staff and myself fully understand that the poor lady just could not live without more subsidy. Your department is not concerned with the daily living of an actual human being, but only deals with policies, your department just let people suffer helplessly! Do you expect X's parents, of age about 70, with monthly income of about $10,000 (as said by X) which is just enough for the couple's living, can have spare money to give to X? If your are really thinking this way, which I feel very shameful, then how much do you expect X's parents to give her each month? X cannot find a job and therefore cannot give money to her parents is already a disgrace to her, since she cannot show her gratitude to her parents after they took care of her living since she was born. And now you ask her to get money from her OLD and POOR parents? Did your staff ask X's parent whether they are willing to look after X's daily expense? Did they agree or not? I feel very horrible indeed. Because of the high unemployment rate, one youth has already suffered of being jobless for a long time and her human dignity is severely damaged, and your department now put two more old persons to suffer more by cutting their barely enough basic income to save the jobless. Is your department helping the poor, or making more poor people? I wonder!!

X is now receiving only the handicap subsidy of $1260, but not the normal standard subsidy for daily expense. If X were not [information concealed], she got even NOT A SINGLE DOLLAR from your department, despite the fact the she is jobless over one year! And the $1260 should be extra expense due to her partial physical disability, and should not be counted as her normal daily expense, this means that your department don't care about her daily life, and leaves the poor jobless X in a almost totally helpless situation. Please show more mercy!

The more surprising answer I got from your staff is this: If X rents a room else where hence living separate from her parents, I was told that she can get an extra grant on top of the existing handicap grant of $1260, plus subsidy of rent. (Hence I guess she will get at least $2700 as before plus about $1000 rental expense.) Therefore indirectly you encourages X to live separately with her aged parents thereby damaging the three persons' family life, and wastes public money on X's rental expense, in order to let her to get normal standard subsidy so that she can survive. Is this ridiculous?

What if X's parent make a statement in court that terminating their parent-daughter relationship legally, and they make a vow that they will not take care of X's living? Will your department give more grant to X? Your staff could not answer this query, but could you, being the highest decision maker in your department?

You don't have to re-state your department's policy to me, your staff has explained it clearly, please give me concrete answer how to deal with X's daily living and to save her? A youth's live is in your hands. Please.
This letter is going to be posted in my personal website at http://fungchiwood.tripod.com/ for the concerned people to understand more about the deteriorating condition of poor people in an affluent Hong Kong society.

Looking forward for your reply.
Thank you for your kind attention, but I wonder whether you have the intention to read this letter thoroughly.

May God bless you and your department, and especially the poor and helpless.

Yours sincerely,

FUNG Chi Wood