In Hong Kong 1 in 7 people are millionaires, but as the least affordable housing market in the world, 20% of its population lives below the poverty line.
This week on Dateline Marc Fennell uncovers Hong Kong’s wealth divide from the richest of rich to those on the bottom of the poverty line.
Why does Hong Kong breed the ‘crazy rich’? And how do those living in poverty survive?
Two of Hong Kong’s ultra-rich – heir to one of the city’s oldest jewellery empire Dr Sze and young socialite and influencer Mabel Lau give Marc intimate access into their lives.
Influencers like Mabel get paid by luxury brands to promote the ‘crazy rich’ image on social media. While Mabel can afford to live in one of Hong Kong’s most expensive suburbs, where 3 bedroom apartments cost about AUD $10 million, in other parts of the city there are multi-generational families living in apartments no bigger than an average Australian bathroom.
Thirty percent of Hong Kong’s total population live in public housing5. But there’s a wait list of around five years which means many of the city’s poorest have to reside in squalid, dangerous and illegal living conditions.
Elderly widow Auntie Har is on the public housing waitlist. She can only afford a tiny sub dived flat “I hope the government can improve the life of people in the lower classes. They should be given basic living conditions”
With 1 in 5 children living below poverty line6, school education often takes backseat, meaning many generations are stuck in perpetual poverty.
People like Dr Sze are trying to break the poverty cycle by using their wealth. Dr Sze funds a project called The Hub, providing education to under privileged kids. “The world will not be stable when you have too many poor people as opposed to rich people. That’s my belief. With education, people have a much higher chance to be successful”,
Sadly, 9-year old Cherry, one of the students at The Hub is well aware of Hong Kong’s alarming inequality. Even at this tender age, Cherry realises the importance of education and the need for equal division of wealth in Hong Kong. “If the rich can share the wealth with poor, then the poor will become equally wealthy as the rich. Then they can work and keep making money together”.
Without serious reforms, Hong Kong’s crazy rich price tag could continue to come at the expense of the mega poor.
9:30pm Tuesday on SBS.