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Hong Kong's Government Explains Money Troubles... With Cartoons

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

In Hong Kong, government-provided public services are considered pretty good. Supposedly, the social welfare net is also pretty good. Technically being part of China but with a passport that is accepted by many western countries, Hong Kong is overall a pretty good place to live.

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However, in recent years, the local government's pockets have been stretched thin with a "booming" population. To explain the hardships of the government and to educate the people, The Principal Offices of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region put out a series of cartoon shorts on YouTube featuring a character named Johnny. The shorts are called Johnny 财政博客, which roughly translates to Johnny Finance Blog.

So far, the four released videos feature Johnny explaining a hypothetical scenario where Johnny has need for more money. Then, after about 30 seconds of Johnny explaining or going through a scenario, like saving his wife or his mother from drowning, the government explains where the government's finances go and how someone such as Johnny can make more money.

Basically it's Hong Kong's government putting out a series of cartoons explaining how hard it is for them. Which is kind of funny, since Hong Kong's government regularly boasts a yearly surplus in funding. Despite claiming to be stretched thin in terms of social welfare, the HKSAR posted nearly $8 billion in surplus funding in 2012. This surplus has led to some public outcry that the videos themselves acknowledge.

Hong Kong's expected to post another funding surplus for 2013 through 2014. It's unclear what Hong Kong will do with the money, whether they will give it back to the people like they did in 2011 or if the money will just be kept by the government and spent on ridiculous cartoons explaining the difficulties of managing the money of a semi-autonomous region.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Eric is a Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @FatAsianTechie@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.

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DISCUSSION

I live in Hong Kong after moving here from the UK a few years ago. To be honest everything apart from living accommodations here are the best I have seen. Okay, most HKers have no real medical safety net like you have in the UK with the NHS, but the government truly does look after its people. If you are ill you can go to a public hospital and for around HK$100 they will cover your medical needs.

Despite the high standards of living, the one thing that really bugs me is that while the HK government is doing a relatively good job on the economic front compared to the US and Europe, the poor public has suffered over the years from lack of low cost and affordable housing, starting with the antics of Tung Che Hwa, who through his time had allowed blocks of housing estates to sit empty for over a decade instead of being occupied because of developer greed. Apart from the high cost of property and no rental capping like we do in Europe (which means landlords can charge whatever the hell they want), we also have the high income inequality between the haves and the have-nots, which is now widening ever more. I have (sad to say) during my time here literally seen poor old ladies huddling out in the cold in the park, sleeping on benches in the middle of winter with just two shopping bags beside her with nowhere to live. I saw this...in super-wealthy Hong Kong! It makes me feel ashamed sometimes that despite I live in a country that has supposedly everything, there are some people who literally have nothing... :(
Nope the government is certainly not doing enough...