Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am

Axe feeble watchdogs in tough times

What does it take for a noisy, law-breaking bar to lose its liquor licence? No, it's not a trick question. There's just one simple answer. Bars in Hong Kong never lose their liquor licences whatever law they break. They can spew loud music until dawn, serve alcohol to youngsters, let customers block streets outside their premises, build food trays on government-owned traffic railings and even ignore liquor licence conditions and still have their permits renewed. Public Eye is not making this up. We have evidence. Just last week the Liquor Licensing Board routinely renewed the permit of a Wyndham Street bar even after the police had taken it to court four times in one year for breaching the board's own condition that all doors must be shut in the evening to protect residents from noise. Not only was the permit renewed, the board actually bowed to the bar's demand to loosen noise-control conditions. The police supported the renewal despite complaints from district councillors and residents. There is more. Another nearby bar received a police visit last weekend for having a live band blasting away at 3.30am with all doors wide open. That's right, 3.30am. Will it lose its licence? Silly question. Here's what Public Eye thinks: get rid of the licensing board and the Environmental Protection Department. They are wasting public money. We can't afford to throw away money on iron rice bowls for people who don't do their jobs, especially during these tough economic times. As for the police, don't waste time chasing away hawkers and stopping innocent youths for identity checks. Go after the real bad guys.

Warped logic of apologists for plunderers

Do two wrongs make a right? No, you say? But apparently two wrongs do make a right in the minds of those who see no reason why France should return looted bronze head relics to China. Apologists for the plundering French and British colonialists who burned down the Old Summer Palace argue China doesn't deserve to have stolen treasures returned because Red Guards too had stolen or destroyed artefacts during the Cultural Revolution. By that logic India shouldn't get back Mahatma Gandhi's auctioned glasses and other possessions because the independence leader was no saint. It is a known fact he slept with naked young women. African-Americans shouldn't feel wronged by the enslavement of their ancestors, either. Their communities are so crime-ridden they do not deserve any apology for the atrocities inflicted on their forefathers. And since Aboriginal and native American communities have such a high rate of alcoholism, let us not think it was wrong for colonists to have slaughtered their ancestors and stolen their land. But if this logic is to make any sense it has to work both ways. Since European colonialists trampled on the rights of so many back in the old days, they now really should stop preaching human rights.

Are the league legislators wimps?

Remember the gutsy Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former US president George W. Bush at a Baghdad press conference? And the German student who did the same to Premier Wen Jiabao at Cambridge University? Both probably knew they would be arrested. But that didn't scare them. So how come our three lawmakers from the League of Social Democrats only throw stuff at top officials inside the safety of the Legislative Council where, as legislators, they enjoy some protection from legal action? Does that make them wimps?

Jockey Club should keep its hands off

Who should act as guardian of what's left of Hong Kong's heritage? The people or the Jockey Club? The answer would seem simple enough to most, but apparently not to the Jockey Club. It intends to ride roughshod over the views of 13 heritage and green groups that oppose another towering monstrosity on the old Central Police Station site. The club says it will not put a height limit on the cultural complex it plans to build. Public Eye says the government should take the site back from the club.