Urban planning

Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am

Let obscene pay and perks exit with Yam

Public Eye doesn't care who will replace Joseph Yam Chi-kwong as Monetary Authority boss. But let's make one thing clear: there is no way the new chief executive should get the same preposterous pay. The government pays Mr Yam about HK$9.6 million a year, plus bonuses. That's obscene. He's by far the world's highest-paid central banker. But that doesn't mean he's the world's best. His palatial office is on the top floor of the International Finance Centre, again, compliments of the taxpayer. From that height it's probably hard to see the struggling masses being swept away by the economic crisis. Well, it's time for officials such as Mr Yam to come crashing back to Earth. That is already happening on Wall Street and elsewhere. The happy days of obscene exuberance are over. The people's money can no longer be squandered to finance lavish pay and perks. Mr Yam's expected exit opens the way for change. The government must make his successor accept less or show him the door. Public Eye will be watching.

No walls in our own backyard, the tycoons say

What do our property tycoons really care about? Stopping the 'wall effect' of monster skyscrapers, or making monster profits? It all depends on the view. Whose view is being destroyed, that is. If someone is destroying their view, then they care about the wall effect. If they're destroying someone else's view, then to hell with the wall effect. Profit is more important. We're being cynical, you say? Well, then maybe you can explain why it took two planned medium-rise buildings that will partly ruin the IFC's view for the owners to suddenly care so much about the wall effect. And why Swire is virtually saying to hell with the wall effect in pressing ahead with its 50-storey monstrosity in Mid-Levels. Town planners warn the 'toothpick tower' in Seymour Road will be an eyesore, worsen traffic conditions and hurt the area's environment, but Swire fought ferociously in court to build it anyway, and has won. It's a simple case of putting people or profits first, and we know Swire's answer to that. Are we cynical? You betcha.

Pray tell the judges what town planning is

Didn't Public Eye tell you time and again our judges live in a different dimension? They must be completely removed from all earthly realities, judging from the reasons our appeal court judges gave in siding with Swire in the 'toothpick tower' case. The judges ruled the Town Planning Board was wrong to have rejected the 'toothpick tower' on the grounds it would worsen the visual clutter and traffic congestion in an already overbuilt part of Mid-Levels. Those are not valid reasons? Then what are? Isn't that exactly what town planners should do, factor in traffic congestion and visual impact? Excuse us, judges from another dimension, but what part of 'town planning board' don't you understand? Maybe Public Eye can help.

Kudos to the patriot for protecting the relics

Public Eye applauds Cai Mingchao, the mainland art collector who sabotaged last week's auction of two Chinese relics looted by the French and British when they burned down Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860. Mr Cai bought the two bronze animal heads for HK$153.8 million each but never intended to pay up. What a stroke of genius. That'll teach Christie's auction house! That'll teach owner Pierre Berge. His obnoxious offer to trade looted national treasures for Tibetan freedom insults all moral values. The French stole the relics in a government-sanctioned destruction. They must now return them. French President Nicolas Sarkozy likes to make a big show of being a moralist. He brags about human rights, having even threatened to boycott last summer's Beijing Olympics. Well, Mr President, put your money where your mouth is. Buy the relics and return them. It'll make your future human rights boasts believable.