Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2010, 12:00am

How many more die before government acts?

When will we stop killing our children? How many more must die before we say enough have died already. We grieved for the eight Hong Kong hostages killed in Manila. But how many cried for little Choi Wai-ying? She's dead too. But do you even know who she is? She was just six years old when she lost her life last week. She fell out the window of her 37th-floor flat when her mother left her home alone. She landed on a laundry rack several floors down, where she hung briefly screaming for help. What must have gone through her mind during those terrifying moments? The thought of a little girl crying for help while dangling outside a high-rise building before plunging to her death ought to stab our conscience. But it hasn't. Little Wai-ying is just another statistic. Our grief has been reserved for the Manila dead, leaving only her family to grieve for her. We have a sorry record of home-alone children dying. But every time a child dies needlessly we hear the same worn advice from our officials that parents should not leave their kids home alone. They've played this broken record too many times. Parents are not listening. The government has got blood on its hands for rejecting the pleas of concern groups for tougher measures. Why does it so fear harsher measures that impose greater responsibility on parents to protect their children? Other advanced societies have them, so why not Hong Kong? How many more children must die?

At some point we have to let go of the anger

Is it just Public Eye or do you also feel our fury with the Philippines is starting to lose focus? We've been mad for days but it seems the anger has become directionless. We just want to stay angry. You'll see that tomorrow when legislators again spew venom at Manila for the deaths of eight Hong Kong hostages. Try to spot the political grandstanding. There'll be a lot of it disguised as moral outrage. We were right to be angry 10 days ago when the hostages died. But staying mad won't bring them back. The comically amateurish way the Philippines police handled the hostage crisis incensed us. So did President Benigno Aquino's snub of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen who tried to call him. But it seems we want to cling on to our anger for the sake of it, as if it's our duty. It's no longer about the dead, it's about us. We're unsatisfied with Manila's remorse. Protesters and politicians at the march on Sunday demanded a formal apology. Does that mean Aquino going on national TV with head deeply bowed to say sorry? Will that satisfy our anger? Everyone's demanding a full and fair investigation. The findings will likely show what we already know - that the security forces screwed up. Will we let go then or will we still stay angry? What's fuelling our fury is not just that eight Hongkongers died but that they died due to incompetence caused by a broken system in a failed state. But staying mad won't fix their broken system. Only the Filipino people themselves can fix it.

Maids' pay freeze a political dirty trick

Decision day on minimum wage legislation is nearing. Dare Filipino domestic helpers demand the same minimum wage as locals? They did before. There was even a plan to sue the government for discrimination. But it's a whole new ball game now. Their cause had little public sympathy to start with but even that's evaporated with the Manila massacre of eight Hongkongers. Why do you think the government announced a pay freeze for maids just two days after the tragedy? It knew the maids wouldn't dare protest for fear of further enraging the public. It was a well-played political dirty trick. The pay freeze sent a message that it's OK to bash maids. It's going to be a very long time before Filipino helpers dare be assertive again.