An underground route to happiness
Public Eye must say we're impressed with Town Planning Board vice-chairman Greg Wong Chak-yan. He's a practical man who knows how to prioritise. We think he might make chairman one day, judging by his very sound town planning advice about the Hong Kong section of the high-speed train link with Guangzhou. He says the terminus needs to be underground even though that will gobble up more than half of the already astronomical HK$50 billion bill taxpayers must pay for the rail link. 'How would those who live in the luxurious apartments above the site react if it was not underground?' he reasoned. This is exactly the kind of wise counsel Hong Kong needs. Our town planners need to know the poor side of town from the rich. That keeps those living in luxury apartments happy. And if they're happy, the tycoons who sell them the luxury apartments are happy. And if the tycoons are happy, the government is happy. A happy government will continue appointing town planners like Wong. That makes everybody happy. Rich areas will have underground railways whose costs will be offset by putting railways above ground in not so rich areas such as Kwun Tong where the MTR zips past the third-floor windows of thousands of families. But hell, who cares? They live on the poor side of town. Their happiness doesn't count.
The real price of a view from the top
Those happiest with the government's decision to put the high-speed train link with Guangzhou underground have surely got to be the tycoons who run Sun Hung Kai Properties. They recently jacked up the asking price of two penthouses at their luxury West Kowloon residential development the Cullinan by more than 20 per cent to a record-breaking HK$300 million apiece. Would they have dared do that if the view included an unsightly railway terminus? The sucker foolish enough to pay this ridiculous price will at least not have to listen to rumbling trains. But the real suckers are the Hong Kong taxpayers. They're paying for his view.
When heaven had to wait
Public Eye called heaven to inquire if we could make a visit. The lady at the other end, while not rude, was no angel. She told us impatiently to call back as she had to take another call. Well, heaven can get pretty busy, even this particular piece of heaven on earth, which also goes by the name of the Holy Spirit Seminary in Aberdeen. Seminarian William Chow insists the place is indeed Hong Kong's only heaven on earth. He's mad at Public Eye and e-mailed us to say so. He didn't like it that we told the seminary's rector, Father Benedict Lam Cho-ming, to get real. We told the rector it was futile to fret about construction noise from the MTR's South Island Line spoiling the tranquility of the seminary. We told him there's no such thing as tranquility in Hong Kong. But Chow assured us if we took the trouble to visit the seminary we'll find it's as tranquil as heaven. That's why Public Eye called. But the lady at the other end told us in a very unangelic way not to bother knocking on heaven's door. That piece of Hong Kong heaven, it turns out, is not open to everyone. Large groups can apply in writing to visit but they must be Catholic churchgoers. Even heaven has rules, just like trendy nightclubs, about who to let in. But God knows we tried.
Learn a lesson from Letterman
Legislator Kam Nai-wai has got it all wrong. He's denying a sex scandal involving his female assistant. That's caused his popularity to free-fall, along with that of his Democratic Party. When it's a case of 'she says, he says', she mostly wins. So Kam needs to learn from American TV host David Letterman. The popular late-night comedian confessed. Recently re-married and aged 62, Letterman told his huge audience he did indeed do hanky panky with young female staffers. His ratings have since jumped 20 per cent. There's your cue, Mr Kam.