Cab Chat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 November, 2008, 12:00am

The financial turmoil holds no fear for Sha Tin resident Ho Kiu-shing, 54, who is in the stock market for the long haul despite the chaotic swings

It is really strange to have melamine in eggs. First they found melamine in mainland milk powder, now they have found it in eggs. I guess chicken farmers use contaminated milk powder to feed their chickens, or else how could it be so? You know, no one wants Sanlu milk powder now. It should be cheap. It makes sense if it ends up in chicken feed. It's all right for me. I can just stop eating eggs. Vegetables are my main diet now. They are healthy and good. I have simple lunches. Usually I eat out, since I work from eight in the morning to 10 at night. Beef or pork is OK, too.

The stock market is fluctuating so much, but I don't worry about it. Last Monday, it dropped to about 11,000 points. The day after it was above 12,000 points. I think the stock market plunge has nearly reached its bottom. Countries outside Hong Kong have proposed a lot of measures to save the economy and I think they will work.

I have bought stocks. I am interested in big mainland companies. No, I didn't buy Citic Pacific. I bought China Construction Bank. I didn't sell it when it reached HK$8, and I didn't sell it when it was HK$3-something. As long as you don't need the money and keep the stocks, market changes aren't a big deal.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang [Yam-kuen] has just named a crack taskforce to tackle the financial crisis. They have top bankers on the list and I am confident they can think of something. But it is important that they really do something rather than just talk.

Although stock indices may have hit their lowest point, the problem of unemployment will only get worse. Many more companies will lay off people, I guess. Luckily, none of my friends or relatives has been laid off yet. However, I think it will be toughest when it comes to Lunar New Year at the end of January. Most companies lay off people after the traditional New Year holiday. The sector to be hit hardest will be Chinese restaurants. Just wait and see.

I heard the value of some Lehman Brothers' [collateralised debt obligations] dropped to zero; that buyers can get nothing back. I don't think the government should compensate them unless they were misled by banks. If you have that large sum of money, you should think twice before you invest.

The government cancelled the means test for elderly fruit money. I think giving the elderly HK$1,000 is good. But is the means test necessary? Well, there are some elderly who are so well off they don't need the money. So I support a means test.

Even though Donald Tsang changed his mind regarding the means test, I guess he only did so because there are so many problems that we face now, such as the economic crisis. He just [wanted] the policy address to pass in Legco.

Although the means test is cancelled, I won't thank Wong Yuk-man for throwing a banana at Donald. I don't like Wong. How can a person just do what he likes? I cannot think of a legislator who I really like right now. None of them is much help to grass-roots people, especially now when the economy is bad.

I have been driving taxis for 20 years. Some people suggest that the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak was the worst time for the taxi business, but I don't agree. From what I see it is worse now. During the Sars epidemic, few people were taking short trips, but there were still some people who took long trips. Now, people do not travel long distances any more - I mean, with taxis that charge the legal price. It is totally the fault of those discount gangs. I feel nothing towards the new taxi pricing. Reducing fares for short distances and raising fares for long distances, logically, will attract more long-distance passengers. Fewer people travelling short distances will take cabs.

Big businesses are all wicked. Like the supermarkets, they don't reduce prices of rice even if import costs fall. And the petrol stations don't cut prices when the oil price drops. The oil price is reviewed once a month under current government regulations. The outcome is, we drivers don't benefit as much as the petrol companies do. The government should do something.