Cab Chat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am

Wong Yau-ming, 62, feels the criticism of the pay packets of the new political appointees is unjustified

I wonder how well the Buildings Department is checking on sign posts and the outer walls of buildings during the rainy season. There are quite a number of building-structure collapses these days. We need to know how many signs are being inspected every month, the number of staff and technicians responsible for inspections, their qualifications and grades, and the inspection procedures. Right now we don't know anything about it. The inspection may, for all we know, be naked-eye observation only. Until we have more information, we can't comment on the Buildings Department's capability in ensuring building safety.

We have always known the Building Ordinance does not prevent people from erecting structures in areas they don't own. But we can't blame the Buildings Department, because their job is to ensure building safety. The infringement of property owners' rights is another matter, and owners should take action. They should complain to the police and ask them to trace the contractor and applicant for unauthorised structures. It is up to the owners to take action. Then they should take the name and number of the police officer and keep a record of the complaint they have filed. By then the contractor should have stopped the construction work, but if they carry on you may ask someone else to destroy the structure and send the bill to the contractor, with the help of the police.

There are loopholes and imperfections in every system, but one can't just sit here and complain. One should take action and try to use the system for one's own interests. Why complain against the government for no longer offering home ownership loans or sales of public housing units? If you want to buy a flat of your own, you should find a way. And why should old people complain about having to wait for months before they can get a place in elderly homes? They could get in within a week if they would end their dependence on their sons and daughters. Then the Social Welfare Department would take care of them and admit them to elderly homes right away.

Yes, this sounds callous. But isn't it just the same for the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance? If a person really needs the money for his parents, he will have to declare that he is not supporting them any more.

Everyone sees the US economy is getting weaker and weaker, while the yuan is getting stronger because of China's strong economic growth. One asks the old question - why the government won't consider delinking the HK dollar from the US dollar. But how do you know that the central government is not taking this opportunity to narrow the difference between the HK dollar and the yuan, so that the living standard will more or less be the same across the border in some 20 or 30 years?

Why do people say the political appointees are being overpaid? I, for one, think they are being underpaid because there is no security in a political career. The appointees don't get permanent positions in the government but are only contract staff. Also, being an assistant means that you are always the one who does the dirty jobs, the one who gets reprimanded or fired when something goes wrong. And when that happens - who dares to hire an ex-undersecretary or ex-political assistant? They may not get a good replacement job unless they have secure ties with the central government. This is pretty much a career gamble, and I seriously think that people should not criticise the size of their salaries.

I think people are getting dumbed down - older people like me have great common sense, but younger people are unable to think for themselves. That's because there are more and more regulations in education, in knowledge and in everything in society, so that decisions are always about being right or wrong, but not about problem-solving any more. You need to listen to the news all the time to know what is going on around the world in order to make sense of the things happening around you, and find a way out. What I say could be wrong, but I don't trust what the people are saying because they are just part of politics.