Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 April, 2010, 12:00am

A cautious type, it's no exaggeration to say ...

Whenever our top bureaucrats want to measure the public mood they turn to Professor Lau Siu-kai. He heads the government's secretive Central Policy Unit, a think tank which does all kinds of internal opinion polls that you never hear about even though the public pays for them. But there's something you should know about Lau: he's not a man of exaggerations. That's why he pooh-poohed a Chinese University survey showing Hongkongers to be so disillusioned that a growing number now favour radical action to fix social injustices. He dismisses as an 'exaggeration' the fear that anger over such things as the rich-poor gap could spark riots. Lau likes to dismiss public anger as an exaggeration. Remember how he did that in 2003? He laughed off predictions that public fury with the government would trigger a mass turnout for the July 1 protest march that year. Using his secretive polls he assured his bosses the turnout would number only in the thousands. The actual turnout was half a million. Public Eye is not sure how he explained this to his bosses. Maybe he told them he didn't want to exaggerate. Or maybe he used more of our money on a poll to find out why his earlier polls were so under-exaggerated.

... but he may have overdosed on happy pills

Professor Lau admits more people are becoming disillusioned. He admits a growing number now feel the rich-poor gap, the power of the tycoons and poor governance have made Hong Kong an unfair society. But he insists happy people outnumber unhappy people. And he insists most people still consider Hong Kong a fair society. We don't know where he got all this from. Maybe from one of his internal polls. Maybe he's still using the one from 2003 which found most people were too contented to take to the streets. In any case, what's he telling us? That the government should only take seriously warnings of violent unrest when there are more discontented people than happy ones? Doesn't he know it'll be too late by then? If you want to know why our government always misreads the public mood just look at cloud-cuckoo land. Pollster Lau lives up there.

Can you see through our expensive new dragon?

We stared at it again and again, from every angle. We wanted to make sure we weren't missing anything. But no matter how many times Public Eye looked, all we saw was a tiresome dragon drawing with three tail-like ribbons, one of them flowing from the creature's backside. We've seen cooler dragons on the front doors of US Chinatown restaurants and kung fu schools. This one wasn't even breathing any fire. Aren't dragons supposed to do that? But Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah says this particular one is special, with a deeper meaning. It's our updated HK$6 million Brand Hong Kong logo. So we fixed our eyes on it until we started seeing a double vision. We thought maybe that way the deeper, double meaning would become apparent. But no, still just a plain old dragon. We got really frustrated. How come we couldn't see all that wonderful stuff Tsang was talking about - the core values of quality living, a caring society, a greener Hong Kong, the 'can-do' spirit signified by one of the ribbons resembling Lion Rock, etc, etc, etc? Where were they all? We concluded the deeper meaning must be hidden too deep within the dragon for the naked eye to see. We put on our 3-D glasses left over from Avatar. But then everything became so dark we couldn't even see the dragon.

Let's shoulder the burden of our history

What's all this fuss about our old folks having a hard time if there's no escalator going up historic Ladder Street? Public Eye says no to an escalator. It'll destroy the heritage value of Ladder Street. We say bring back the sedan chair. That'll revive Ladder Street's past glory. And it'll help the old folks remember the way things were as they're being hauled uphill.