Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1979

A 'bureaucracy gone mad' is endangering the livelihood of Hongkong citizens and threatening their freedoms, said an Urban Councillor, Mr Brook Bernacchi. In an attack on the Government, Mr Bernacchi told a lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Kowloon East that even inflation is attributable to the Government's refusal to take any action on spiralling land costs.

'Who really governs Hongkong?' he asked. 'Is it the Hongkong Government or are these mighty civil servants mere puppets of big and powerful hongs?'

In his wide-ranging criticisms, Mr Bernacchi also accused the Government of a shocking lack of care for the aged, of sweeping mental illness under the carpet and of not curbing the excesses of the police.

But he reserved his bitterest attack for the Financial Secretary, Mr Philip Haddon-Cave, who is at present acting Chief Secretary, and the effect his economic policies have had on land prices. 'Land prices are going up and up and Philip Haddon-Cave is just rubbing his hands together and saying, 'Ha! Ha! More revenue'.

'But why should the land premium go into general revenue? And if land in Hongkong is so valuable, why is it not controlled?

'Do not let us create a landlord class of corporations with terrific land holdings that they can sell flat by flat to the little man at a phenomenal price which he has to raise by high interest mortgages.'

He went on to attack the Government for failing to provide a working public housing system - something promised by the Governor 10 years ago.

As an ultimate solution to the problem, Mr Bernacchi suggested election of Legislative Council members who will represent the people's wishes, 'irrespective of what the Government or even the Governor thinks of the matter'.

Asked if pressure from China may be the reason the Government has not taken such steps towards democracy, Mr Bernacchi said he had received assurances in an unofficial meeting with Chinese officials in Peking that the matter was one to be dealt with by the British and Hongkong Governments and was no concern of the Chinese.

In Hongkong it's the 14K, in Singapore it was ... Singapore, which already has tough censorship of sex films and even home videotapes has now started clearing up another area of public obscenity - people's chests.

Police are raiding shops in the city's tourists shopping area and have seized hundreds of T-shirts bearing suggestive slogans or drawings. Technically, under the Singapore Indecent Advertisement Act, a person wearing such a garment in public could also be arrested and prosecuted, but a police spokesman said that so far that no such arrests were contemplated and action is being confined to traders.

An executive committee member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals may be voted out - because he wrote an article about dog meat.

In the society's annual report, Mr Michael Webster said that there was no logical reason why dog meat should not be eaten, provided the animals were especially bred and were killed humanely.

The society should concentrate on stopping the cruel way dogs are killed and being readied for eating, and should not chase down people who sell dog meat.

The article produces at least two resignations from the society and a series of telephone calls to its controller, Mr Fred Thomas.

In last week's Slice of Life, the story about a United Airlines crash should have carried a Salt Lake City dateline. Many thanks to the knowledgable readers who pointed out the misleading error.