Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am

Setting the building collapse record straight

Can you hear clapping? That's us, Public Eye. We're applauding the government's emergency inspections to make sure all rundown buildings are safe. Better late than never. So let's not be harsh on our officials for having waited until after four people died. It's only four, after all. Besides, they were just faceless people who lived on the poor side of town. Our busy bureaucrats have many other things on their minds. And they have to work within a tight budget. Should they line the pockets of developers with a showcase HK$67 billion express railway or build homes for the homeless? Cut wine taxes for wealthy collectors or increase the old-age allowance for the poor? You wouldn't believe the exhausting hours our bureaucrats spend in their chauffeured cars agonising over these tough choices. But Public Eye would like to set one thing straight. The record now states the four who died were crushed by a mountain of rubble when their building collapsed. That's wrong. The rubble did bury them, but that's just a detail. What really killed them was something else. They were murdered by the fact that they could only afford to live in a rundown building. Many others like them can afford even less. They live in caged bed spaces, or in tiny flats subdivided into numerous cubicles. They're invisible to the profit-minded Urban Renewal Authority, which prefers building swanky high-rises in upscale areas for rich mainlanders than modest homes for the needy on the poor side of town. They're invisible to the government, too. Officials dare not build affordable homes for them for fear of angering our tycoon developers. So now you know why they died. Let's not blame the rubble. By the way, don't worry if you can't hear us applauding the government's emergency inspections. We're only clapping with one hand.

Has our police chief got the nerve?

There is anger out there, lots of it and much more than Public Eye had expected. We heard from lots of angry readers about what we wrote last week. They angrily told us they, too, had been manhandled by the bodyguards of our tycoons. These bodyguards block pedestrians when their bosses enter or exit the Fook Lam Moon Restaurant in Wan Chai - nicknamed the canteen of the rich. Those who wrote to us want to know why the police look the other way when tycoons double park outside the restaurant. They want to know why there's one law for the rich and one for the rest of us. Maybe Police Commissioner Tang King-shing can tell us. He's got time to take personal phone calls from his Legco buddies when they throw tantrums. He's got time to intimidate young protesters with threats of arrest. Maybe he'll make time in between this heavy workload to also intimidate the rich folk who double park. It's actually quite simple. All he has to do is to post a couple of constables outside the restaurant every lunch hour. Dare he?

A whole new meaning to anger

One reader let his anger get the better of him. He substituted a couple of letters in the first word of Fook Lam Moon to make it sound quite different. We won't go into details since we're sure you know what he changed. And we also won't be suggesting anger management. You all have a right to be angry.

It's time to blow bad air out of town

How many times have you woken up and put on the news only to be warned that it's going to be yet another bad pollution day? Too many times? And how many years has this gone on for? Too many years? Does that make you wonder just exactly what our highly paid environmental officials have been doing all this time? Do you get mad that they still get fat salaries? But don't you then just stifle your anger, shrug your shoulders and go about your business, breathing in the filthy fumes? Maybe that's the reason why you're still waking up to foul air every day.