‘7K for a home like a cell’ was one of the slogans painted on walls in Hong Kong during the riots.
I found out that it means you pay 7,000 Hong Kong dollars (812 Euro) a month for a tiny apartment, like a cell.
Obviously the concerns of many Hong Kong workers are as much about living conditions as democratic ideals. However they know the two are closely linked – the local Hong Kong government may be to blame for the housing, education and medical care problems in the city but those who caused the problems were appointed by Beijing in the first place and so the problem starts there.
Recently Leo Goodstadt, the highly respected Hong Kong scholar, wrote ‘A City Mismanaged’ in which he describes how the city has deteriorated since it was united with the mainland in 1997. He traces the mistakes of the four Beijing-appointed Chief Executives who were in charge. They gave more attention to big business and balancing the budget than to social needs.
In Hong Kong most people live in apartment buildings ranging from 10 storeys to 40. In Mong Kok, near the Columban apartment and the scene of many of the riots, they say that if all the people came down to the street at the same time there wouldn’t be room for them. Most of the apartments are tiny and in disrepair.
It was this, and also the limited possibilities for third level education and medical treatment, that brought Hong Kong’s hard-working people out on the streets and swung the recent local elections in favour of the anti-government democrats.
They have sent a clear message to Beijing, now we wait to see what response will be made.
Photo 1: slogan in Hong Kong
Photo 2: the people who voted