23 February 2019
Bunny Chan (inset) says young people should not simply give up on owning a private flat. Photo: HKEJ
Bunny Chan (inset) says young people should not simply give up on owning a private flat. Photo: HKEJ

Govt youth adviser gets flak over housing comment

A government adviser on youth affairs has sparked a social media firestorm after saying it’s sad to see young Hong Kong people applying for public housing right after college graduation.

Commission on Youth chairman Bunny Chan said young people are quick to assume they will never be able to afford a private flat, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

He said they should not simply give up.

“I managed to pay the down payment on my flat after saving money for five to six years,” Chan said. “This is what I call vitality of young people.”

The remarks, which went viral on social media, triggered a public backlash, with netizens accusing Chan of being out of touch with the very people he represents.

They criticized him for “failing to understand” their hardship.

Many netizens said Chan’s time frame is off because it now takes longer to save for private housing, with a tiny flat easily costing HK$4 million (US$515,836).

Chan, 56, worked as an apprentice at an embroidery factory after graduation from high school in 1976 and went on to open his own textile factory in 1980.

In Chan’s time, home prices were lower and business opportunities more abundant, the netizens said.

By contrast, a 300 square foot flat typically costs HK$4 million today, with 30 percent or HK$1.2 million paid upfront.

A prospective buyer has to save HK$16,000 each month for five or six years just to cover the HK$1.2 million down payment.

A buyer would then have to start paying mortgage of HK$12,500 a month. Under bank lending regulations, a borrower must earn at least twice the mortgage to qualify for a loan.

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