Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2008, 12:00am

NPC heads the Shame List

Forget about new year resolutions - they're made to be broken. Let's have a Shame List instead. We can shame those who shafted us in the past year. Our list is long but space is short so to those who're not on it we say this: there's always next year. First on our shame list has to be the tricksters of the National People's Congress who pulled off the biggest con of the year. They sold us something packaged as a timetable for democracy. The gullible among us thought they were getting a good deal. It turned out to be not a timetable but a time capsule with instructions to freeze democracy for a decade. An obstacle course made to look like a road map pointed a fuzzy path to democratic elections in 2017 for the chief executive. Another obstacle course has us going round in circles until 2020 looking for the right exit for democratic elections for all our legislative councillors. This is how the obstacle course works. Only half of our 60 Legco members are now democratically elected but at least two-thirds - that's 40 members - must agree before we can have democratic elections for the chief executive and for all Legco seats. The trouble is most of the undemocratically elected members are buddies of Beijing. That's why the only clear thing in the NPC's fuzzy road map is this: the half-half ratio between elected and undemocratically elected members must remain but two-thirds must still approve democracy before we can have it. This means Beijing's Legco buddies can hold democracy hostage. Talk about being shafted.

Spineless bureaucrats keep us choking

Next on our Shame List are our own policymakers but they're a shameless lot. They shamelessly bragged that their anti-pollution policies were behind last summer's blue-sky days. But when smog once again smothered the city they shamelessly fed us this worn line: we've done a lot but more needs to be done. It's a line we've chewed and spat out many times before. The only way to shame them is to hit them where it hurts the most. They don't like being called spineless so that's what we'll call them. They lack the spine to ban idling car engines. When engines are turned off they no longer emit noxious fumes. It's an idiot-proof procedure but one that has perplexed our bureaucrats for a very long time. They already know the fumes are choking us but they also know they risk being choked by irate drivers if they impose a ban. So what do they do? They buy time. Spineless.

Letting down half a million people

These same bureaucrats also know half a million Hongkongers earn slave wages of about HK$5,000 a month. They know their voluntary plan to get the bosses to pay a decent wage has failed. But they lack the spine to impose a minimum-wage law. So what do they do? They buy more time to beg bosses to do the right thing. Spineless.

Blatantly lining their pockets

Our honourable members of the Executive and Legislative Councils are a cut above being shameless - they're immune to shame. As a species that's beyond shame they've been able to get away with such things as watering down a ban on smoking in public places, and doing practically nothing to press the government for a minimum-wage law or a ban on idling engines. But since shame is not a word they understand, they saw nothing wrong in using our money to give themselves generous pay rises. Even tycoons such as Timothy Fok Tsun-ting and David Li Kwok-po who hardly attend any Legco meetings are pocketing more of our money. Maybe they'll donate it to our HK$5,000-a-month workers, but don't hold your breath.

The director who oozed greed

No Shame List would be complete without the name of Clara 'I'm not greedy' Chong Ming-wah, former HK$3.8-million-a-year Tourism Board director who clawed an extra HK$177,000 of our money to buy herself and her family health insurance. Even hitting where it hurts - a Legco inquiry into her greed - has not shamed her enough to return the money.