Text # 58 Unemployed Getting Raw Deal.

The new Financial Secretary Donald Tsang has said he is committed to the principle and philosophy of financial management enshrined by his predecessor Sir Hamish Macleod. It was really not surprising to hear such a message as our Government has consistently reiterated its non-interventionist policy.

Our Government is proud of the low taxation policy, free market operation and the enterprising nature of the economy, as it believes that all these lay the strong financial foundations that make possible the economic boom in Hong Kong. Hence, the role of the Government is to interfere, as little as possible, in the public sector, for fear of damaging the "normal" operation of the market.

Government spending in money terms has never exceeded 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), since 1945. Many people in Hong Kong are scared by the spectre of unemployment and yet the Government has done nothing to solve the problem, because administration officials do not want to spoil the miraculous market mechanism. There is talk of "self help" by entrepreneurs involved in the market. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is rocketing. I believe the Government should act to combat this problem. Owing to the lack of a comprehensive unemployment security scheme and unemployment insurance which exist in Western industrial countries (for example, the US and Germany), Hong Kong's jobless suffer more psychological and social pressure than their Western counterparts.

The unemployed have a heavy psychological burden to bear. This can lead to them having feelings of low self-esteem and a feeling that they are worthless. Those who seek help from the Social Welfare Department (SWD) have to endure the complicated application procedure and the inhumane and harsh means test. The procedure to apply for assistance is not as easy as one would imagine. This puts the unemployed under great pressure. I do not believe that maintaining a policy of minimal government intervention will stem rising unemployment. The Government should make its "invisible" hand in the market become visible by, for example, creating more job opportunities for the unemployed; ensuring age and sex discrimination do not exist in the workplace, restraining employers from exploiting employees - in the way that some employers do by taking on casual staff and making them work long hours and, finally, bringing under control the "crazy" property speculation of capitalists.


Multiple choice questions.

1. This passage is:
(a) a newspaper editorial
(b) a letter to a newspaper
(c) a newspaper article
(d) an advertisement placed in a newspaper

2. 'Hence'in paragraph 2 introduces:
(a) a cause
(b) an effect
(c) a reason
(d) a question

3. What is the writer's attitude to the new Financial Secretary Donald Tsang:
(a) encouraging
(b) critical
(c) supportive
(d) committed

4. What is the main point ofparagraph 4?
(a) to analyse the problem
(b) to give reasons for the call for action
(c) to describe the pattern of government spending
(d) to describe the operation of the free market

5. What is the writer's attitude to the role of government in the Hong Kong economy?
(a) critical of the new initiatives taken
(b) agreeing that the less intervention, the better
(c) arguing that more intervention is required
(d) arguing that in the past the wrong type of intervention has taken place in Hong Kong

6. In paragraph 1 'it' refers to:
(a) a message
(b) the government
(c) financial management
(d) none of the above

7. In paragraph 4 'endure' could be replaced by which of the following?
(a) enjoy
(b) wait for
(c) put up with
(d) start

8. In paragraph 4 'seek' could be replaced by which of the following?
(a) find
(b) look for
(c) choose
(d) are forced to go for

9. 'as' in paragraph 2 can best be replaced with:
(a) therefore
(b) because
(c) at the time that
(d) while

10. The word 'yet'in paragraph 3 is similar in meaning to which of the following?
(a) in spite of that
(b) then
(c) at the same time
(d) up to now

11. 'Meanwhile' in paragraph 3 can best be replaced by:
(a) at the same time
(b) whereas
(c) in spite of the fact that
(d) although

12. In paragraph 3 'owing to' is closest in meaning to:
(a) because of
(b) due by
(c) caused by
(d) although

13. In paragraph 4 the word 'would' is used to indicate:
(a) a guess
(b) a past event
(c) a hypothesis that is true
(d) a theory

14. In paragraph 4 'This' refers to:
(a) pressure
(b) assistance
(c) difficult procedure
(d) harsh means test


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