Banks, Wall Street head our 2008 Shame List
And the winner is? That's right, folks, it's New Year's Eve and time for Public Eye's Shame List of 2008. Our top award goes, without a fight, to Wall Street and its co-conspirators, the banks. Together they plundered and pocketed the world's wealth. In doing so they killed not only the goose that laid the golden eggs but also the eggs. And when the people came to the rescue, US banks used the public's bailout money to give their top executives US$1.6 billion in bonuses, stock options, country club memberships and other benefits. They refused to say how the rest of the bailout money would be spent to stimulate the economy. Hong Kong's banks, which raked up profits with the people's money during good times, refused to help the people when times got tough. They gave you zero interest on your savings deposits but charged you a fortune on your mortgage and credit card rates. They refused to lend to businesses struggling to stay alive during these tough times. To Wall Street and the banks, Public Eye confers the Greed and Mean Award.
You-know-who wins the Good Riddance Award
Our Good Riddance Award goes, without a second thought, to US President George W. Bush, who polarised America and bullied the world into backing his policies or be banished as rogue states. 'You're either with us or with the terrorists,' he warned the world. During his eight-year reign he and his accomplice, Vice-President Dick Cheney, trampled on international laws, mocked civil rights, condoned torture and locked up suspects without trial in the US gulag known as Guantanamo. No one deserves the Good Riddance award more than Bush/Cheney.
The Tsang team and the Lost Its Way Award
Public Eye is tempted to confer our Incompetence Award on Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, but we won't. We don't believe he is incompetent, and we don't believe he should be blamed for everything that's gone wrong lately. But we do believe the Tsang administration has become a victim of its own blunders. It has allowed its confidence to be so rattled by its recent mess-ups that it has lost its direction. The Tsang administration gets our Lost Its Way Award.
The Heart of Cold Award ... think Caritas
Wall Street greed and the stinginess of banks certainly deserved Public Eye's top award but we wish we had another top prize for the Caritas Medical Centre, its chief executive Ma Hok-cheung and its receptionist after a man collapsed with a heart attack on its doorstep and later died. The patient was taken to the emergency room 26 minutes after arriving, with his son having been told to call 999. Call it the Heart of Cold Award.
To HK's wine industry, the Shame on You Award
No Public Eye shame list would be complete without Hong Kong's profiteering wine industry, which conned everyone into believing a zero wine tax would lead to cheaper prices for consumers. Not only did our greedy wine merchants pocket instead of pass down the tax savings, they also got their government buddies to set aside some of Hong Kong's precious heritage sites as storage cellars for our wealthy wine collectors. Abolishing the wine tax cost the public HK$570 million a year in lost revenue. That's far more than the measly HK$250 a year in medical vouchers the government is grudgingly giving to our elderly citizens, which will cost the public HK$500 million a year. To the wine industry goes our Shame on You Award.
Finally, the You Must be Kidding Award
Our final award doesn't really suit the shame list but, since we don't have a stupidity list, we'll include it. It goes to the US Environmental Protection Agency for reporting that greenhouse gases from livestock flatulence and belching worsens global warming. US farmers are furious over a possible gas tax on cows, pigs and other livestock. To the nitwits who wrote the report, we confer the You Must be Kidding Award. Happy New Year to you all.