With trust evaporating, we face a very grim Year of the Ox

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am

There are a variety of organisations in Hong Kong, such as, for example, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which go a long way towards protecting us against exploitation of one sort or another, but there seems to be no protection against the so-called 'professionals' who were once regarded as the pillars of society. I am referring to bankers, lawyers, auditors and brokers.

When I was a young man, auditors used to earn their fees as guardians of society.

They would never sign off on an account unless it was squeaky clean. The assets of any company, large or small, were given a thorough going over and scathing comments were made in annual reports - but what of today [and the economic crisis]? Where were the alarm bells of inadequacy or insolvency? Where were the warnings to shareholders? Such warnings seem to have been hidden in some meaningless qualification, leaving the general public totally ignorant.

You have to ask yourself what is the point of an auditor if he doesn't audit, and how do they justify the huge fees that they demand, and how do they then explain the extra money they will now obtain as the 'receivers' of collapsed companies which they failed to warn us about in the first place?

What about the bankers? Bankers were once the most trusted people on Earth but, today, their moral judgments can't compare to that of a used-car salesman. And then there are the lawyers. If you mention due diligence, most lawyers will laugh in your face.

Today, they seem to earn more money defending alleged guilty parties than they do for standing for justice for the aggrieved.

One could mention insurance men, brokers, rogue reporters, analysts and forecasters, as many of them seem to have taken the public for a ride over the past few years. But there is little point, as it would serve no purpose in the greedy world we now all seem to be part of.

It is going to be a very painful Year of the Ox, which will bring more news of evaporating pensions and bank accounts, as the consequences of credit card abuse come home to roost.

A. E. Gazeley, Tsim Sha Tsui