Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2009, 12:00am

Making sure Hong Kong stays noisy

Did you know that you, Joe Public, are supporting more than 30 iron-rice-bowl bureaucrats whose job is to sit at their desks assessing noisy Hong Kong? They carry the impressive title of 'assessment and noise' officers with the highly efficient Environmental Protection Department. Some are more senior - and better paid - than others. But they are all doing valuable work. How else could Hong Kong have kept up its status as one of the world's noisiest cities? To make sure we hang on to this boast these officers diligently beaver away - during office hours and five-day weeks of course - 'assessing' Hong Kong's noise under their top boss, the very capable Anissa Wong Sean-yee. Their many years of assessing have borne much fruit - Hong Kong has not had any new noise-control legislation for a very long time now. This allows the big-time developer constructing a monster building next to your home to have dozens of workers in hard hats (but without ear protectors, of course) jack-hammering away from 7am to 7pm six days a week. This also allows your upstairs neighbours to 'renovate' their home by having workers gut the place with jack-hammers, drills and any other ear-splitting tool they can find 12 hours a day, six days a week. If your toddler suffering from swine flu needs to nap you could try reaching the assessment officers to 'assess' your situation. Public Eye is considering 'renovating' too. This way we can do to our downstairs neighbours what our upstairs neighbours are now doing to us. It's for the worthy cause of contributing to Hong Kong's status as among the world's noisiest cities. The assessment officers will be pleased.

There's no pleasing the fat cats

The rich folks are restless. Sometimes it's hard to figure them out. You never really know what they want. The rich folks at Shouson Hill don't want a new MTR line swinging through their swanky neighbourhood. If it must be built for the ordinary folks in housing estates, then put the whole thing underground, the rich folks say. That will cost an extra HK$2 billion and a delay of three years. But spending HK$2 billion is nothing to the rich folks - when it's coming out of the public's pocket. And the three-year delay? Well, that's no big deal either. They all drive cars anyway. Public Eye can almost hear the ordinary folks impatient for a train service yell: 'Delay no more!' But the rich folks at the opposite end of town, at Old Peak Road, do care about wasting public money. They don't want the government to spend big bucks on a speed-enforcement camera in their posh part of town. Why waste good money on something as silly as stopping them tearing down the hill in their fancy Ferraris? Now you see what Public Eye means about how tricky it is to figure out these rich folks? You can never tell when they think it's right to waste your money and when they think it's wrong. Maybe it's got to do with how it affects them.

Bomb first and ask questions later

From the air, all Afghans look alike. All are turbaned, bearded terrorists. That's why it's best to bomb first and ask questions later, or not even bother to ask questions. After all, they're just Afghans. It's not like they're Germans or anything like that. Reports say up to 100 Afghans, many of them civilians, died when a German commander ordered an American air strike against militants who had hijacked two fuel trucks. Civilians were scavenging fuel when the bombs rained down. The Americans expressed remorse, admitting the Germans had erred. But German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung scoffed at that, saying in effect German lives were worth more than Afghan lives. The Taliban might have used the trucks as suicide bombs against German soldiers, he said. Might have, so let's kill all the Afghans first, guilty or not. Who are the real terrorists here? Public Eye is confused.