Editorial
2013-01-31 05:01
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(明報製圖)

A Lesson to Learn from the Tin Sau Bazaar

【明報專訊】MANY YEARS AGO, there was a series of family tragedies in Tin Shui Wai, the causes of which, according to experts and academics, were that most of the residents in this remote area of Hong Kong were of the low-income group, and local economic activities and employment opportunities were limited. Moreover, the cost of living there was higher than in other urban areas. All this gave rise to a sense of isolation and helplessness among the local population.

In recent years, with the government working hard to provide more facilities for the inhabitants and many non-governmental organisations committing more resources to the area for the provision of various services, Tin Shui Wai as a community has become more vibrant. However, local economic activities and employment opportunities remain limited.

Last September, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the allocation of a piece of land in Tin Shui Wai for the establishment of a Tin Sau Bazaar. Evidently, the government is trying to further boost the local economy and increase employment opportunities to help the local inhabitants out of their misery. As the rents for the bazaar stalls are very reasonable, the operating costs are relatively low and daily necessities can be sold at reduced prices. This can help relieve the economic burden on the local inhabitants. So the establishment of the Tin Sau Bazaar is very well meant. However, the implementation of the project has led to controversies.

The government has entrusted the bazaar to the operation and management of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs), which was also made responsible for processing the applications for the stalls. As some 3,800 applications were received and there were only 152 stalls, the majority of the applicants were bound to be disappointed. If generally perceived to be fair, the selection results would have caused no controversy. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

In late October last year, the TWGHs published the application details for the Tin Sau Bazaar stalls, stating in the "Application Requirements" section that applicants should preferably be "those in financial difficulty and with referrals from social workers". However, the selection criteria were not established until after all the application forms had been received.

There were altogether six selection criteria with a total of eight marks, including residence in Tin Shui Wai (1 mark), a referral from a social worker (2 marks), being a regular vendor at the dawn market plus a referral from a social worker (1 mark), a low income (1 mark), a business plan that is creative, environmentally friendly, or likely to draw people to the bazaar (2 marks), and experience in operating the proposed business (1 mark).

Applicants that have been turned down are now complaining that the TWGHs failed to show the above scoring scheme in the application details and application form, as a result of which they have suffered. For instance, many simply did not ask for referrals from social workers, which would have earned them two marks. They therefore feel they have not been fairly treated.

So, while the 152 successful applicants have every reason to be happy, there are more people who feel disgruntled because of the problematic selection process. The government may be regarded as a victim in this matter because, as a result of bad planning on some people's part, its well-meant efforts have incurred much disapproval. The government must learn from this mistake so that things like this may not happen again.

明報社評 2013.01.30﹕天秀墟遴選程序惹爭議 須亡羊補牢匡正缺失

多年前,天水圍接連發生倫常慘案,專家學者總結出幾個原因,包括天水圍地處偏遠,居民多是低收入人士,另外,區內經濟活動和就業機會不多,加上物價較市區昂貴,區內居民有孤立無援之感。

近年,政府積極在區內增加設施,開展工作,許多社會團體也投入資源提供服務,天水圍變得活絡起來,不過,天水圍的經濟活動和就業機會仍然未見有轉變。

去年9月,政務司長林鄭月娥宣布在天水圍撥出一幅土地,設立天秀墟,就有促進當區經濟、增加就業機會的用意,反映政府進一步協助天水圍居民走出悲情;另外,天秀墟租金廉宜,檔位營運成本較低,可以較低廉價格售賣日常食用品,減輕居民的生活壓力。所以,政府撥地在天水圍成立天秀墟,實質屬惠民措施,只是落實過程有爭議。

政府把天秀墟交給東華三院營運和管理,連處理申請也由東院統辦,152個個人檔位,吸引約3800份申請,大多數申請者肯定失望而回;若大家認為申請遴選公平,自然會接受結果,若有人認為有不公平之處,就會引起爭議。

去年10月尾,東院公布天秀墟檔位供申請的文件,其中「申請資格」有列明「由社工轉介的有需要居民」的寫法,不過,「遴選準則」卻在完成收集申請表格之後才制訂。

具體評分準則有6項,包括申請人居於天水圍(1分);由社工推薦的申請(2分);由社工推薦的申請,同時恆常在天光墟擺賣,可額外得分(1分);低收入申請人(1分);建議經營的業務具以下其中一項元素:創新、環保、吸引人流(2分);具備相關營運經驗(1分),總共8分。

現在訴說不公平的落選申請人,指當初東院的公布和申請表格,都沒有評分準則,使他們在填寫申請表格時不以為意而吃虧,例如由社工推薦可得2分,不少人因為未充分利用,對落選而深感不值。

單就此事而言,獲選的152名申請人固然高興,但是因為程序有問題而有怨氣的落選者更多,政府可能是受害者。政府惠民,卻吃力不討好,這是人謀不臧的結果。政府要亡羊補牢,避免日後再發生類似情况。

Glossary

referral﹕the act of sending somebody who needs professional help to a person or place that can provide it

incur﹕If you incur something unpleasant, it happens to you because of something you have done

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