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Carrie Lam is wrong to cut elderly welfare, but will she admit it?

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Another day, another piece of warped thinking. Some government policies are the product of a small mind and a cruel heart. To this ignoble list must now be added another ingredient: intransigence, and you have the perfect recipe for misgovernance.

The latest act of folly is the bizarre decision to push back the age of eligibility for elderly welfare recipients, from 60 to 65, on the twisted logic that Hong Kong must prepare for an ageing population. The chief executive cited her own case to prove her point that people are expected to keep working longer because they now live longer. If she can work 10 hours a day, why can’t other senior citizens, she reasons.

The problem with that argument is that only 44 per cent of the affected age group are gainfully employed. The rest can’t find work. Coddled policymakers forget that those pushing 60 are basically unemployable, if they are uneducated or eking out a living with their declining muscle power.

Even if work is available, the pay is pathetic. The secretary for welfare has said in the government’s defence that it will ease the rules for those in poor health and that, for the truly needy, there are still other Comprehensive Social Security Assistance schemes for the non-elderly. But it’s likely that for many, losing the elderly subsidy means losing about HK$1,000 per month, or one-third of the elderly........

© South China Morning Post