Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced his budget on Wednesday, but I do not think it can help poor people at all. It is true that rates have been lowered but that can only save us a few hundred dollars.
The measure that affects me most is the 50 per cent rise in tobacco tax. The increase is really a bit crazy; now each pack costs me nearly HK$10 more. But the increase will not encourage me to quit smoking; after all, I have been smoking for many years. I tried quitting in the past, but in vain.
Many places already ban smoking and we can only smoke at home. Combined with the increased tobacco tax, it is likely that I may smoke less, but the habit will definitely stay.
The government is planning to subsidise internship programmes for university students, but I doubt that can really help them find a permanent job. With the current economic situation, employers are not willing to take on any extra staff. It is very likely that after finishing their internship, the students will still be left without a job.
I think this pessimistic situation will continue for at least another year. Many of my customers have told me their companies have laid off all the temporary contract staff. I heard that one German company laid off more than 1,000 people in Hong Kong, and a lot of expatriate staff were sent to other parts of the world.
Long Hair (legislator Leung Kwok-hung) and his colleagues in the League of Social Democrats again created chaos in the Legislative Council. It is outrageous that they tried to throw bananas at John Tsang. I think they are too impulsive and violent. Surely that will affect the image of Hong Kong. I understand that they are trying to help the poor, but it would have been better if they could talk it over with officials peacefully.
In Paris, Christie's auctioned the bronze rat and rabbit heads taken from the Old Summer Palace. They were sold for HK$144 million. I do not know if the price was a bit too high since the value of relics can not be easily estimated. But I think the French should return the heads without any preconditions, such as letting the Dalai Lama go back to Tibet. It is shameful that they have stolen our relics and now use them to blackmail us. It is possible that the buyers were Chinese and were commissioned by the central government. But we will never know.
The bouncy eggs found in Macau turned out to be real eggs, but I am still very worried. Now I will try to buy eggs from Thailand, and be very careful when I cook them. Almost everything sold on the mainland can be fake now. I have lost all my confidence in mainland brands. When I go shopping, I will definitely try buying Hong Kong brands, even though they might be a bit more expensive.
Edison Chen testified in a Vancouver court, renewing interest in last year's sex photo scandal once again. I don't think the media should continue to report this matter as it was one year ago. Just when people start to forget about the whole thing, the media stirs things up again. This is very unfair to the actresses who have tried to get over it. In my opinion, not many people in Hong Kong care about Edison now.
The most important news happening overseas must be about Gary Locke being appointed as the secretary of commerce in [US President] Barack Obama's cabinet. I think Mr Obama is trying to build better ties with China as the United States is suffering hard after the financial meltdown. It seems they are a bit desperate - just a week ago [Secretary of State] Hillary Rodham Clinton visited China to ask for support. But it was not the current administration's fault - the US would not be in such trouble if the former president, George W. Bush, had not attacked Iraq.
The Consumer Council announced last week that petrol prices could differ by as much as 25 per cent among oil companies. Although all taxis use liquid petroleum gas and so oil prices are not directly related to me, I do hope they go down as soon as possible. It is really unfair that companies increase prices very quickly but are slow to cut them.