Government gifts make tourism sector a Liberal Party fiefdom

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2007, 12:00am

There will be gifts for some of those who voted for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in last Sunday's election. James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Liberal Party, has been appointed the Hong Kong Tourism Board's new chairman. And Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said immediately after the poll that his party had plenty of members who were suitable for ministerial appointments.

There has been speculation that former DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing will be the next head of the Education and Manpower Bureau or the Home Affairs Bureau.

Cronyism is alive and well. Are we really willing to be governed by these sycophants? Are we willing to hand Hong Kong's future to them?

Simon Ho, Tsuen Wan

The outgoing chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee thought it was a good idea that another member of the Liberal Party be appointed to the position after she stepped down.

But there are many in the community who believe that the Liberal Party has far too much influence in this sector already.

Then, this week, Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun was appointed the board's new chairman.

Liberal party member Vincent Fang Kang, a legislator who represents the wholesale and retail sector, is also on the board. Howard Young is the functional constituency representative for tourism in the Legislative Council and Miriam Lau Kin-yee represents transport, with close links to tourism interests. In fact, the tourism sector has become a Liberal Party fiefdom.

Despite the countless extra millions allocated to the tourism sector in recent years, the most promising and profitable in-bound market is that of trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences, now sporting the twee label MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions). This sector has flourished without any assistance from the tourism representatives who are now belatedly recognising its potential.

The recent short and controversial visit of the Queen Mary 2 to Hong Kong and the revelation that passengers of large cruise liners spend only a few hours in port while sleeping, taking their meals and doing most of their shopping on board, should certainly raise questions about the proposed cruise liner terminal at Kai Tak, a pet project of the Liberal Party. We should also look at whether the substantial costs the community will bear with its construction, and the loss of land revenue, will be justified.

No sensible business visitor will go to Kai Tak to sit in the shadow of a large cruise liner with noisy helicopters taking off in the background.

Neither will local residents. Instead, this prime site should offer well-planned resort-like facilities that will attract well-heeled business visitors, provide imaginative function space currently in short supply and encourage Hong Kong people to relax and spend their cash at home instead of heading to the airport for every holiday.

Hopefully the powers that be will at some point take the opportunity to remove the tourism board from the control of the Liberal Party by appointing an independent chairman who will guide the tourism sector in a manner that benefits the community in general rather than advances the objectives of a political party and the vested interests of the large businesses and developers it represents.

Andy Lau, Wan Chai