Raymond Wong Yuk Man

Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 October, 2008, 12:00am

Why there's no point in whining

Don't grow grass for the people, let's have a vineyard instead. That's right, folks. That's the word from your chief secretary, Henry Tang Ying-yen, the No 2 man in government. You see, wine is artistic, it's got culture, not like lowly grass. It's kind of like, forget about bread, let 'em eat cake. That's why Mr Tang wants the new West Kowloon cultural centre, which you're all paying for with tax dollars, to cut back on grass so he can build a vineyard. Since he's the centre's chairman, loves wine, and spends big bucks on his collection, maybe we should all try to see it his way.

So what if the cultural centre is Hong Kong's last chance to finally have real grass in the urban area? Let's not fret about the kids not being able to roam around the grass when it's built. They can always romp through the vineyard, assuming they'll be allowed in. We all have to wonder if we're allowed in public places nowadays, or if they're there for the property tycoons to squeeze more money out of us, given our experience with Times Square.

But here's a question: will Henry Tang's vineyard actually produce wine? If not, why waste taxpayers' money to satisfy his fantasy? If yes, how pricey will a bottle be, given that it's hard to produce wine in a tropical climate? So pricey that the little guy can't afford it, or such lousy wine that the little guy won't buy it? Either way, you lose. But that's the way Hong Kong is - the little guy always loses.

We're ruled by bureaucrats so obsessed with wine that their policies revolve around it, even when financial markets are crumbling and global recession looms. They abolish wine taxes, give up our heritage sites to the trade and now they even want to sacrifice valuable harbourfront land for a vineyard in an arts centre. And you wonder why our ivory tower-dwelling officials are so out of touch with the common people. Never mind, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Heading for fruitcake politics

In Africa, they have banana republics. In Hong Kong, we have banana politics. It can be practised in many ways but central to this kind of politics is the innovative use of bananas. Banana politics is quite different from other kinds of politics, such as democracy which requires you to defend what others say even if you disagree with what they say. In banana politics, you can hurl a bunch at the chief executive if you disagree with what he has to say, like legislator Wong Yuk-man did. Or you can hold up a few and challenge the chief executive on whether he knows the price of bananas, as legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung did.

If you would rather be frugal during these tough economic times and use only a single banana, then you can simply shove one in the mouth of legislator Lee Cheuk-yan if you disagree with what he says, like a disgruntled man tried to do. This tactic has the added advantage of actually choking the person you disagree with. As banana politics evolve, we can expect new tactics. The Legco president, Tsang Yok-sing, could, for example, have his own supply to hurl at any legislator who tells him to shut up, as Mr Wong did. When we reach the stage where everyone is throwing bananas at everyone, we can then call it fruitcake politics.

An observation that's down the toilet

Right-wing New Zealand politician Lockwood Smith has certainly sent Public Eye's imagination running with his observation that Pacific Island workers are clueless about how to use western-style toilets and that the small hands of Asians make them ideal for grape pruning. We're trying hard to imagine how long New Zealanders - whose Caucasian frames mean they're rather large - would last squatting over one of those hole-in-the-ground Asian toilets and what would happen if their legs suddenly gave out.