As the government’s long-awaited consumption vouchers were finally available for collection Sunday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam set her sight on one thing: apples.
The leader purchased pounds of the fruit—over 200 apples, she said—at a supermarket to give out at a local sporting event at Che Kung Temple Sports Center, according to Lam’s Facebook page. In a photo of her holding up the bagged fruit, she captioned: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” wishing citizens good health.
Lam’s splurge came as Hongkongers spent Sunday morning lining up at convenience stores and MTR stations to collect HK$2,000 (US$257), the first payment as part of the government’s $5,000 (US$643) handout.
The electronic consumption voucher scheme, a government initiative meant to boost Hong Kong’s pandemic-stricken economy, were first announced during the annual budget speech in February. Registration for the handouts started in July.
The money is being distributed via e-payment channels including Octopus, Alipay and WeChat Go.
Lam, however, said that her registration to receive the money in her Octopus account failed to go through, presumably because her card had been locked due to a prolonged period of disuse.
“These days, I’ve gotten used to using cash,” Lam added. “Even without the e-vouchers, I’ll continue to support consumption.”
(The Chief Executive once said that she has “piles of cash at home” and that does not “have a bank account.” Her comment came after the US last year slapped sanctions on her and other officials over the imposition of the national security law.)
At the time that the consumption vouchers were announced, many citizens questioned why the government couldn’t just hand out cash, like they did last year when they distributed HK$10,000 (US$1,286) to ease the impact of the economic decline brought on by protests and COVID-19.
Referring to Lam’s remark about being accustomed to cash over digital payment, one person renewed the criticism on her Instagram post: “We are also used to using cash, why don’t you directly give out cash handouts.”
This article, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam spends HK$2,000 on apples to pass out as consumption voucher collection begins, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.