Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, 12:00am

Blinkers and bureaucrats go together

Something happened last weekend that should have prompted our leaders to remove the blindfolds they habitually wear. But they didn't. They chose not to see. Being blind to a fact allows them to delude themselves. And they like deluding themselves that our property market is functioning normally. What happened last weekend was that thousands of frenzied homebuyers jammed a shopping mall to buy one of Cheung Kong's Festival City flats near Sha Tin.

As day became night the crazed crowd grew thicker. Anxious buyers elbowed each other to get in line for medium-sized flats costing up to HK$12 million each. Deals were being struck in the dead of night. Homes were flying off the shelves, so to speak. Cheung Kong milked the frenzy by releasing the priciest flats first. Desperate buyers, competing with speculators, bought flats well above their budgets. It all adds up to a 'normal' property market. That's what our blinkered bureaucrats want us to believe.

Is this why our leaders aren't listening?

Who do our leaders listen to - the people, or themselves? A political party survey showed 80 per cent of the people want the government to restart the Home Ownership Scheme for families who can't afford the crazy prices our developers charge. But our government - which is anything but for the people and by the people - says no. It's even furious with one of its own - executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung - for wanting to resume HOS flats. Cheung, a member of the Housing Authority, wants to discuss the matter at a forthcoming meeting. But the government doesn't even want him to do that. Why? Our unelected leaders always say they respect public opinion. So why aren't they doing that with HOS flats? Could it be their own internal polls show the people actually want to pay preposterous prices to buy a home? That's not surprising given the government's pollster is Professor Lau Siu-kai who heads the Central Policy Unit. Lau loves to do those internal polls which guide government policies. He did one back in 2003 which showed only a few thousand would turn up for the big July protest march. Half a million turned up. The government probably thought Lau wasn't too far off. Why else would he still have his job? Lau certainly doesn't need a poll to tell him most of our developers would throw a fit if the government built affordable homes for the people. Could that be why the government is not listening to the people? Makes sense.

The ribbons that have got it all wrong

Our government has just spent HK$1.4 million of the people's money on a lie. Actually, it's far more than that but the secretive bureaucrats who control our money are refusing to be fully accountable. They would only say updating the Brand Hong Kong dragon logo had cost HK$1.4 million. They won't give fine details of exactly how many more millions went into researching the change. Let's forget for now the secrecy and the people's money lavished on adding three coloured ribbons to the old logo. Let's focus on the lie. Our bureaucrats say the ribbons symbolise blue sky, sustainable environment and 'can-do' spirit. Blue sky? Do they mean that thing other places take for granted but which we must await as a Second Coming? Sustainable environment? Yes, let's sustain the smog over our city which is permanently locked in by our 'wall-effect' skyscrapers. Can-do spirit? Where is that to be found? Or do the bureaucrats actually mean our no-can-do spirit? They've said no to building affordable housing, to ending property market rip-offs and their big business sidekicks have said no to a fair minimum wage.

When democracy missed the boat

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was unfazed when asked why democracy wasn't included as a core value in re-branding Hong Kong. He replied: 'Democracy is in our hearts.' Is he saying the other core values are not? Are we spending millions to brand Hong Kong with core values that are not heart-felt?