Kenji Fujimoto was accepted into Kim Jong-il's inner circle during a 13-year stint serving North Korea's first family. The Japanese sushi chef gives Julian Ryall his take on the communist dynasty'...
Why not dock the finance chief's pay?
What do you get when you multiply 281,666 by four? Don't bother with your calculators, Public Eye will tell you. The answer is 1,126,664. That's how many dollars the people will save if pro-democracy legislators win a vote to cut a month's pay of four top officials for failing in their jobs. Think of what we could do with HK$1.12 million. We could easily feed for a month all those old ladies who scavenge cardboard boxes for a living. That would give them a nice break from their long hours of toiling. We could use the money for the entertainment expenses of our top officials. At least then they'll be paying for their own long lunches, although we're not sure if HK$1.12 million is enough to cover a month's worth. But why vote to dock the pay of only four top officials? The legislators are mad at the government for handing out short-term budget sweeteners instead of fixing long-term social problems. It's Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah who hands out the sweeteners. So why is he not among those to be punished? Tsang's monthly pay is higher than the HK$281,666 the four targeted officials make. Add that to the docked pay of the four and you just might have enough to cover all those long lunches for a month. Well, maybe.
Let's not be idle with the rich on engines ban
Government officials have finally gathered the guts to ban idling vehicle engines. But how far will those guts go? Far enough to go after all those rich guys whose chauffeurs leave their car engines idling while their bosses linger over long lunches at overpriced restaurants? You'll have no trouble finding them all over Central and Wan Chai. Or will they just go after the little guys trying to keep cool on a hot summer's day? What if the rich guys instruct their chauffeurs to simply pay the HK$320 fine? They give more than that in tips during their pricey long lunches.
Will our government then have the guts to raise the fine? Or will it dilly-dally for another few years?
Property plea fails to measure up
If you buy a suit or a dress you're allowed to try it on for size first, right? And no furniture store will stop you from whipping out your tape measure to check the width, length and height of a sofa. Ikea even provides free tape measures. So how come our property developers won't let you measure a show flat before you hand over your life's savings on a home? What are they hiding? Stewart Leung Chi-kin of the Real Estate Developers' Association wants potential buyers to register with developers before being allowed to measure show flats. And he wants you to measure them only during off-peak hours when few other buyers are around. Ask yourselves why he so wants to discourage buyers from measuring show flats. But you already know why, don't you? You already know about the trickery and deception in our property market. And you know why our officials have done little about it. You know they're a gutless bunch.
This ferry subsidy doesn't hold water
Big business, small government. How many times have you heard our top officials use that as an excuse not to help the little people? They've used it against building affordable housing for families who can't afford private- sector homes. They've used it to turn a blind eye to trickery by property developers. They've used it to dither over minimum-wage and anti-monopoly laws. Yet they're willing to give the big boys HK$120 million of the people's money to subsidise big business. Among the ferry companies benefiting will be New World First Ferry, owned by the property tycoons of New World Development. Why should taxpayers subsidise ferry services run by big business? If residents of outlying islands don't like fare rises, they should move out. They're mostly well-off locals and expats who've chosen a quieter lifestyle. They should pay for their choice, not the people.