Mr Ng Shui Lai
It is often
seen in history that social welfare expands rapidly in times
of depression and great social needs. It seems ironic that at
a time when resources are scarce, the demands are greater than
ever. History has witnessed that humanity and solidarity in
community prevail at times of hardship.
Hong Kong had been fortunate
in becoming an affluent society over the past 30 years. Resources
allocated in public sector for social welfare has been reasonable
although there is criticism for further improvement. Over the
years, the funding of social welfare in Hong Kong has built
on the assumption that the economic environment grows continuously.
However, this is no longer true. We now find ourselves in a
situation where resources available for social welfare are shrinking
in both public and private sector.
What can we do then? As mentioned
above, material abundance is an essential aid in times of hardship.
However, we often focus on merely the material aspects when
we look at social welfare service. It is easy to take care of
one's material resources. However, it is the non-material resources
that will determine how far a society as a whole can cope in
times of resources constraint. Whereupon, we must rediscover
the role of non-material resources and their positions in social
Promoting mutual help is
another area needs to be emphasized. It has been too long in
Hong Kong that the informal network has not been taken seriously
as it should be. It is time for us to facilitate the building
up of people's willingness and capacity to help one another.
Constant review of priority
and concern about effectiveness is also an important way to
manage the shortage of resources in social welfare service.
This requires all those who are engaging in social welfare service
to reaffirm their commitment; and as an agency to revisit its
Constraint in resources is
a less than favorable reality we must face today. Yet, to triumph
over it depends greatly on whether one determines to move forward
in spite of it or to simply stand still.