with Michael Chugani
Woman's drowning mocks common sense
Her name was Poon Mei, aged 83. It's a name that likely means nothing to you. But it should. She drowned in 30 centimetres of water. Some saw her lying face down in a public fountain. The water wasn't even deep enough to reach the knees. But none went in to help. Maybe they didn't want to get their feet wet. A cleaning worker saw Poon and alerted a security guard. She went to look but, like the cleaner, didn't risk the shallow water to save the old woman. She called the police instead. Poon Mei should mean something to us all, because her death is a reminder of how we've become such slaves to rules and regulations that we've forgotten common sense. Remember the case of the frantic son who rushed his dying father, a heart patient, to the front door of a hospital only to be told by the receptionist inside to call an ambulance? The old man died. Leisure and Cultural Services director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee says since the water in the fountain was shallow, the guard should have gone in to save Poon. She says she will look into changing the guidelines. Look into? What's to look into? When an old woman is drowning in 30cm of water you go in to help. It's called common sense.
Tsang's buddies, not our heroes, get top gongs
Who's a hero? The firefighter who lost his life saving others in a factory fire last March? The voluntary worker who died rescuing Qinghai earthquake victims last April? The Nobel laureate who won for his pioneering work in fibre optics? Or are Hong Kong's real heroes our overpaid bureaucrats who get medals for simply doing their jobs? It seems our chief executive can't differentiate between the real heroes and the pretenders. Public Eye applauds Donald Tsang Yam-kuen for awarding Hong Kong's highest honour, the Grand Bauhinia, to Nobel winner Dr Charles Kao Kuen, who has Alzheimer's disease. But then he cheapens the gesture by giving the same award to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. And to two of his advisers on the Executive Council. He hands out a whole bunch of the second-highest medal to his bureaucratic buddies and friends. And the two heroes who died in a fire and an earthquake saving their fellow human beings? They got the lowly Medal for Bravery.
Why even bother with air quality stations?
Monitoring stations show roadside air pollution is worsening. But the government, which has been promising clean air for years, is defensive. It says the stations aren't the best way to monitor pollution. Well, if they're not, why do we still have them? Why are we being duped every day with inaccurate air pollution index readings? Stop wasting public money. Get rid of the stations. Give us something more accurate.
The mystery of the hand-held escalator sign
Public Eye saw a young MTR worker holding up a sign during rush hour at the bottom of an ascending escalator which read: 'Mind your toes.' Several more lines in much smaller print followed. The advice is sound. You should look after your toes, although we haven't yet quite figured out what they're for aside from giving shape to your feet. Still, Public Eye would love to know what the rest of the sign says. Escalators are meant to move people up or down. Reading a long, hand-held sign in small print is therefore tricky unless the sign-holder obligingly turns it around for you to finish reading as you ascend. She didn't in our case. And quite right too, since everyone behind would then miss the sign and not mind their toes. You can of course keep stepping back down until you finish reading. But then all those ascending rush-hour people would bump into you and each other, causing a huge, domino-like crash. We don't even want to speculate about what would happen to their toes, let alone their fingers. Ah well, guess we'll never know what the rest of the sign says.