Cab Chat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am

While So Wai-kin, 39, fears corrupt officials take a cut of earthquake relief donations, he says it is still worth giving because some will get to the needy

I try not to read and watch news stories about the devastating earthquake in Sichuan. It is so sad. As a father I really feel for parents who have lost their children in the quake. When I put myself in their shoes, I just feel heartbroken. I cannot imagine what I would do if I lost my children in a natural disaster. It is a nightmare. I want to cry when I read news stories and watch television news about the quake victims. All those news stories make me feel very upset and depressed.

It is really frustrating to see all those schools being flattened by the quake and burying children. These children are so small. It is really sad to see all those tiny little ones being buried alive by tonnes of cement and broken walls.

Stories about rescuers saving lives and teachers sacrificing their lives to save their students really touch my heart. I just cannot help feeling teary when I watch these news stories. I have donated money to help the quake victims, though I do not earn a lot of money. I really want to help them and do whatever I can to help them rebuild their homes.

Many night shift taxi drivers told me business had dropped a lot after the Sichuan earthquake. They said it seemed that many people were just not in the mood to hang out and have fun at night any more. My mates suspect maybe it is because people want to cut down on expenses and save more money for making donations to the quake victims, and that is why the taxi business at night has dropped so much after the quake.

If you go to Jordan and walk around the area after midnight, you can see lines of taxis queuing up waiting for customers. I think you can see maybe a dozen taxis waiting in line. We think that the situation might last for a while, as Hong Kong people will surely continue to make donations to help the quake victims to rebuild their homes.

We find that the number of solo travellers from the mainland has also dropped, as we used to have more mainland customers. Maybe they are cutting down their expenses on shopping and travelling, and making donations to the victims.

I have also cut down my expenses on dining out and taking my boys out during holidays so that I can save up more money to make donations to the victims. I guess many Hong Kong people are trying to save up money for the victims too, and that is why it is so quiet at night and taxi drivers can hardly find any customers.

But when I do make the donation, I feel worried that the money we raised might be pocketed by corrupt government officials on the mainland. I guess it is better than making no donation at all. Let's say, if I donate HK$10, and maybe half of it will go into those corrupt government officials' pockets, the victims can still get HK$5. So I guess it is better than doing nothing.

I am quite worried about China. I am not a very patriotic person and I don't have very strong nationalistic feelings about my country. But I am really worried about China. The country has to face so many challenges posed by a series of natural disasters - snowstorms, the earthquake and now maybe floods. On the other hand, China has to get ready for the Olympic Games this summer. I really don't know how China can handle so many things at one time.

I felt very happy when I learned that China won the chance to host the Games. But now I feel worried. Apart from natural disasters, China also has to deal with those Tibetans and protesters around the world. I think we should not mix the Olympic Games and politics together. This is a time for athletes around the world to show off their skills and show us how hard they have been practising for so many years. This is not a time for violent acts.

Some taxi drivers are looking forward to the Games as Hong Kong will host the equestrian events. We all hope that more tourists will come to Hong Kong so we will have more business. But some drivers have reservations and are worried that traffic arrangements for the equestrian events might hurt their business, as many roads might be blocked for security reasons.