Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 July, 2009, 12:00am

Polish off the shoeshine menace

Public Eye has finally figured out why our bureaucrats never found the time to hunt down Hong Kong's murderous minibus drivers. They were too busy dealing with another menace - the eight shoeshiners who've been clogging up the streets of Central. A government needs to know its priorities. And the shoeshiners were clearly more of a pressing problem. They had no business blocking streets just to make a living. That's why the authorities spent so much time and effort threatening them with arrest. The reason why bureaucrats ignored the menace of killer minibus drivers for so long is simple. Bureaucrats don't ride minibuses. They ride taxpayer-financed, chauffeur-driven cars. Where's the urgency if you face no risk of getting killed in a speeding minibus?

A corking idea

Public pressure forced the government to respect Central's shoeshiners. But the bureaucrats still want to show who's boss. Deputy Secretary for Food and Health Olivia Nip Sai-lan said recently it would be unfair to subsidise the shoeshiners, who charge just HK$25 a shine, by scrapping the annual HK$2,500 licence fee. Really, Ms Nip? Then why is it fair for the government to subsidise with HK$45 million any fat-cat businessman who agrees to turn the Tiger Balm Garden into a wine centre?

Nostalgia, such a costly indulgence

If your ageing aunt Ah Chun down at the Tin Shui Wai public housing estate is getting all excited about reliving her childhood at what's left of the Tiger Balm Garden, tell her to forget it. Yes, Public Eye knows she's already moaning about that 19th-century colonial building in Wan Chai which was a pawnshop in her day. There are just a few of those left. But our bureaucrats handed the heritage site over to some snooty restaurant owners to turn into an upscale place called The Pawn. We know your auntie Ah Chun gets shooed away every time she goes there to recapture the Hong Kong she knew. She could get all dressed up and pose as a well-heeled customer. But that would set her back at least HK$500. If only the government had the good sense to factor in a visit to The Pawn as part of its old-age allowance. And yes, we know she's mad as hell our bureaucrats allowed developers to turn the historic Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui into a pricey 'boutique' hotel for the high-society bunch. She was never one for high tea. All she wants is to share a dose of nostalgia with her friends by strolling through the grounds with a pineapple bun and a milky tea. And now, after letting developers destroy much of the Tiger Balm Garden, the bureaucrats want to turn what's left into a 'wine centre' with HK$45 million of public money. What does she know about wine anyway except that the government could afford cutting wine taxes but couldn't afford a higher old-age allowance for her? But never mind. Just tell your aunt Ah Chun to start saving right away if she wants to soak in her heritage before she passes. A few months' worth of her old-age allowance might just about get her into all three places. It'll be money well spent just to catch a glimpse of our bureaucrats who regularly frequent such places with your tax dollars.

Pseudo-models just right for the cultured

Sheer genius! That's all Public Eye can say. Hongkongers are famed for their money-making ingenuity but who would have thought of sexing up a cultural event to make a fast buck? The Trade Development Council deserves Public Eye's admiration for raking in ticket money by making curvy pseudo-models the star attraction of this year's book fair. Gawking at sexy young things should become a feature of all our cultural events. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen should take note. He would be wise to include a pseudo-model attraction with a large gawking arena in his West Kowloon Cultural District blueprint if he wants to promote Hong Kong-style culture.