Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am

Time to fight for political reform

Public Eye is really disappointed with the two legislators who nearly came to blows last week during a televised Legco discussion on the high-speed railway. We're disappointed they didn't actually come to blows. A punch-up would have been the natural next step in our democratic development. Wong Yuk-man, who calls himself Mad Dog, is already credited with furthering free expression by pioneering banana-throwing in Legco to shut others up. And Chim Pui-chung has demonstrated how convicted fraudsters like himself who served jail time can still win a Legco seat unopposed. Simply run in one of those small-circle elections with just a handful of privileged voters. But the pair squandered their chance to take us further down the political high road. After a torrent of obscenities and name-calling they kissed and made up. Now we're stuck with just banana-throwing. Maybe they felt we should abide by the principle of gradual and orderly progress in our political development. A punch-up should be the final goal.

Counting the cost of a decent wage

Public Eye is not sure if David Wong Yau-kar knows the price of rice. As president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association he probably needn't bother with such trivialities in life. He can afford domestic helpers to handle them. Maybe that's why he thinks you can live life in Hong Kong on about HK$150 a day. He thinks it's fine to pay our lowest-level workers just HK$22 an hour or about HK$4,500 a month. He believes a minimum wage, if we ever get one, of about HK$5,000 a month is plenty to get workers started on developing their careers. Developing their careers? That's an interesting point. If you're a middle-aged cleaner on a minimum wage with a family to feed what career are you developing? To become head cleaner, maybe? If you're a high school dropout living with your parents what career are you developing? To become chief French fries fryer at McDonald's? That should earn you enough to move out, get married, have kids and buy a shoebox flat from one of our property tycoons for a few million dollars. If you're a college graduate should you be paid just HK$22 an hour to get started? We suggest Wong gets started on developing his understanding of the realities of Hong Kong life before he pontificates about a minimum wage.

Singled out by double standards

Here's something to mull over. In December 2001, British-born Richard Reid tried to blow up a US-bound plane with explosives hidden in his shoe. In July 2005, four British Muslim youths carried out suicide attacks on London's public transport system killing 56 people. In August 2006, British police arrested two dozen mostly British-born suspects for plotting to blow up US- and Canada-bound jetliners with liquid explosives. British nationals can still visit the US visa-free without special scrutiny. In December, a Nigerian man tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with explosives hidden in his underpants. Nigeria has no recent terrorist history, but its 150 million citizens now undergo body and luggage searches before boarding US-bound planes. If you ever wondered what double standards meant, this is it.

The good, the bad and the unequal

Public Eye is puzzled. How exactly will airport security staff around the world single out all the nationals of the 14 countries who must now undergo full searches before getting on US-bound planes? Will there be two separate lines - one for the bad guys from these 14 countries and one for everybody else? Or will they use megaphones asking all those from the 14 countries to identify themselves. Actually, history has quite a few instances of people being separated from the rest due to their ethnic origin. Hitler did it. So did Uganda's Idi Amin.

Obama's blacklist

Here's something else to mull over. The order to officially sanction the separation of passengers at airports based on their ethnic origin came from America's first black president. Who would have thought?