Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2010, 12:00am

How many heads were asleep at the wheel?

Every scandal produces a scapegoat. But let's not feel sorry for Octopus boss Prudence Chan Bik-wah. Her head deserves to roll for denying, then confessing she had sold the personal details of 1.9 million cardholders to telemarketers. But if heads are to roll, why should it only be hers? The MTR Corporation, which owns most of Octopus, admits it sought and got assurances the data-selling was legal. But why ask unless the MTR Corp felt something was wrong? If it felt uneasy, why settle for a simple assurance from Octopus? Four top MTR Corp officials sit on the Octopus board - Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen, Andrew McCusker, Daniel Lai and Jacob Kam Chak-pui. Leong and McCusker are also MTR Corp board members. Did they closely question the Octopus board on the MTR Corp's concerns? Surely, with such cross-board attendance, alarm bells should have sounded unless everyone was asleep at the wheel, leaving Prudence Chan to steer the ship. And don't forget the MTR Corp, owned mostly by the government, has three bureaucrats on its board, including Transport and Housing Secretary Eva Cheng. Were they asleep too?

With logic like that, inmates would run jails

Public Eye likes the logic of our new privacy commissioner. Allan Chiang Yam-wang says the government was right to appoint him because he's learned from his mistake. As postmaster general he installed secret surveillance cameras at a post office, triggering an inquiry by the agency he now heads. But Chiang says that episode opened his eyes, making him passionate about protecting privacy. We suggest the government applies Chiang's logic when making future appointments. The next time a rapist expresses remorse, he should be appointed the head of a girls' school.

Conscience buried beneath the millions

Do you know what the doubling of HSBC's first-half net profit to US$6.76 billion made Public Eye think of? Minimum wage, that's what. Hang Seng Bank's first-half profit is HK$7 billion. Hutchison Telecommunications made HK$361 million. More corporations will soon announce earnings. Think of all that money they've made. Then think of how the business lobby keeps on insisting companies cannot afford to pay a decent minimum wage. Think of Cafe de Coral boss Michael Chan Yue-kwong, who frets that a decent minimum wage would hurt his HK$500 million in profits. Then think: do any of these people have a conscience?

We can save property tycoons the trouble

What's all this about the property tycoons hiring a PR firm to find out what the people think of them? Why pay big bucks to a PR firm to find out what everyone already knows? Public Eye will gladly tell the property tycoons for free what the people think of them. The people can't stand them anymore. They feel they've been duped for too long by dishonest developers who've been allowed by the government to use sales tactics no other advanced society would tolerate. They feel the developers are too powerful and too greedy. They feel the government doesn't dare confront the developers. That's what the people think. And if the survey findings show anything different, then you know exactly up where to shove those findings.

Equality before the law? Stop laughing, Auntie

Our Auntie Ah Chun with the toothless cackle at the Tin Shui Wai housing estate has cornered Public Eye again to asked the difference between ice-cream vendors and a rich man who defaces our countryside with a private retreat. We shrugged, telling her we couldn't see the point of her question. But Auntie Ah Chun is a sharp old lady. Why, she asked, did the authorities take an ice-cream vendor to court for selling candy sticks as well but did nothing about a rich businessman whose bulldozers trespassed and dug up government land for his villa? We replied that in Hong Kong everybody is equal before the law. She stared at us for a moment, then slowly broke into a loud toothless cackle as if we had just said something funny.