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Whatever the true numbers, poverty is a blight on Hong Kong

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The debate about poverty is mostly a game about numbers. Statistics can tell you something is higher or lower than something else, but they can’t decide for you whether something, say, poverty in our society, is intrinsically high, low or acceptable. That’s a moral conclusion.

How many poor people are there in Hong Kong?

An often reported figure is 1.35 million. That’s staggering, considering our population is 7.4 million. But the headline figure drops to 995,000 if you factor in regular welfare payments that most of them receive. It falls further to below 700,000 if you add in public rental housing, which caters to more than 2 million people.

Where do you draw the line?

There is a war of words – or rather, one of numbers – between the government’s welfare chief, Law Chi-kwong, and........

© South China Morning Post