The miserably rich Hong Kong people

June 16, 2021 10:48
Photo: Bloomberg

In Hong Kong, money can’t always buy happiness.

That was the latest observation by the city’s top fund manager Cheah Cheng Hye, who attempted to explain the irony of why one of the world’s richest city is also one of the least happy one.

In an opinion piece contributed to The Star and Ming Pao Daily, the Malaysian-born journalist-turned fund manager said Hong Kong isn’t short of money but short of happiness.

He cited a South China Morning Post survey of young people that close to 60 per cent of respondents wanted to leave Hong Kong, which is among the richest in the world by GDP per capita.

So what has changed? The national security law, which has been in force for nearly a year, could be the dividing force, I reckon, given that it sent a few dozen democratic leading figures to jail and scared off many who have or are planning to immigrate to the UK via their British National (Overseas) Passports for a better live with more freedom.

On the flip side, the law also brought peace and restored law and order. According to Cheah, the national security law has provided some breathing space but it cannot cure all the ills of Hong Kong society, including widespread frustration over high living costs, unaffordable housing and an economic system that benefits a privileged few but leaves out ordinary people.

Despite the exodus, the local home market price was at near record high. But other countries such as Canada and New Zealand are also at record high, according to Bloomberg.

Well, Hong Kong has always been a tiny place. Even multi-millionaires, most concentrated in Hong Kong, had to live very humbly, and many complained they had difficulty buying a flat.

That perhaps explains why some 455,000 people reportedly signed up online within the first 12 hours for Grand Central's Covid-19 vaccination lucky draw, hoping to win the HK$10.8 million one-bedroom flat.

Think about it, that’s about 37 per cent of the 1.22 million who have received two jabs in Hong Kong.

Who doesn’t want to be rich in Hong Kong? The city makes sure you do this summer. Hong Kong Jockey Club, for example, is resuming Mark Six for three times a week. There will be the HK$5,000 shopping coupons to be dispatched next month, on top of the HK$180 million vaccination jackpot, thanks to the big corporates.

Money makes the world go round. However, happiness greases the axle, as they said. So it is more important to be happy than rich.

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EJ Insight writer