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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 6:47am

Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am

It's only persecution if US politicians say so

When is it religious persecution and when is it not? That's easy. Religious persecution is when right-wing Republican politicians in the US say it is. When China suppresses its Christians, mistreats Tibetan monks, and roughs up Muslims in Xinjiang - that's religious persecution. When right-wing Republican politicians try to deny Muslims their right to build a mosque near where the September 11 terrorists struck - that's not religious persecution. It doesn't matter that the mosque will be on private land, has met all city requirements and won't even look like a mosque. The same Republicans who bash China on religious freedom say they'll use upcoming congressional elections to bash the right of Muslims to build the mosque. Supposing Iranian leaders bashed Christianity in an election campaign. That, of course, is religious persecution and will end up in the US State Department's annual religious freedom report. But right-wing Republicans bashing Muslims, why, that's not religious persecution at all.

A victory for the haves over the have-nots

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen likes to say it. His underlings like to mimic him. And now the Housing Authority's Anthony Cheung Bing-leung has said it too: we mustn't drive down property prices too much. But why not? Tsang worries that driving down prices would drive down the main asset of the tens of thousands of people who already own flats. So? Why should protecting the assets of flat owners be more important than making flats affordable for the many thousands who have been locked out by preposterous prices? If you live in your flat, what does it matter whether the price goes up or down? If your purpose is to make money out of it, why should protecting your greed be a priority over making flats affordable for others? But that's exactly what the government is doing by refusing to drive down prices - protecting the greed of speculators, investors and landlords. It's placed the haves above the have-nots.

Mean bosses should rail at indecent rents

There they go again - the scaremongers. Hong Kong's business lobby has been relentless in spreading scare stories that a decent minimum wage would cause mass sackings of low-skilled workers. Public Eye has heard these scare stories spun so many times in so many ways that it's time to ask this question: why is the business lobby so shrill in fighting decent wages but mute when it comes to indecent rents? We all know in Hong Kong high rents cause business failures, not high pay. Why do bosses loudly warn of going bust if they must pay HK$5,000 a month to workers but stay silent when their rents are doubled? How come we don't have top business leaders warning publicly about indecent rents ruining Hong Kong in the same way they warn about decent wages ruining Hong Kong? Pro-business Liberal Party leader Miriam Lau Kin-yee was on the radio last Sunday with the same old scare story of decent wages leading to lay-offs. She wants the government to top up the low pay of workers with handouts. That means you, the taxpayer, must supplement the incomes of workers whose bosses are too mean to pay them a decent wage. Sure, why not? Workers should be able to put food on the table in prosperous Hong Kong. But let's put a condition on Lau's plan. Let's raise the business tax to cover the handouts.

A puzzling letter of the law

So, why did the judge handling the case of a transgender who wants to marry her boyfriend order that she be identified as 'W' and not 'M' in court? 'W' was born a man and underwent sex change surgery. But the government says she's still a man when it comes to marriages and so can't wed her boyfriend. We all know 'woman' starts with 'w' and 'man' starts with 'm'. Was the judge trying to send the government a message in ordering that she be identified as 'W'?

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