Hongkongers pay a price for their low taxes through the world's most expensive homes and smallest living space. Here's why

By
Peggy Sito and Eugene Tang peggy.sito@scmp.com
,
eugene.tang@scmp.com
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September 26, 2019 10:38 AM SGT
For two hours a day in the past fortnight, Edward Chan hung around after work at the Prince Edward metro station in Kowloon.
Teenagers continued to gather at the station, and Chan, who works in logistics, found himself acting as their counsellor, dispensing advice to the youth.
Hong Kong "is rotten to the core, with many issues affecting our livelihood, even if the city has a great international image on the surface", according to Chan, who lives in a 350 sq ft flat with his wife and their 13-year-old daughter.
Chan, 39, is among the tens of thousands of Hongkongers who have been expressing their collective grievances in street rallies in one of the world's most prosperous urban centres.
What began on June 9 as a peaceful march by an estimated 1 million people has deteriorated into mayhem on the streets, with police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse vandals and rioters in almost daily clashes with protesters.
The spark that ignited the city's worst political crisis has shifted from a controversial extradition bill to general rage against the local authorities for their ineffectiveness in addressing some of the most pressing issues affecting life in Hong Kong: housing, job satisfaction, education and future prospects.
Unaffordable homes, and having to wait a decade to gain access to subsidised public housing, are just two of the myriad of problems confronting Hong Kong, Chan said. "There really is no opportunity for young people at the bottom of the social structure to climb up," he said.
While he abhors the violence and vandalism that have made daily headlines for three months, Chan's comments go some way to explain why two weeks after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor caved in to public rage and withdrew her unpopular bill, rallies continue to draw protesters by the thousands to the city's streets.
Hong Kong's economy has taken a beating, with declining property prices, shrinking visitor numbers and plunging retail sales all pointing to a technical recession in the final three months of 2019.
The unprecedented protests, entering...