John Tsang Chun-Wah
John Tsang Chun-wah has served as Hong Kong’s financial secretary since appointed to the position by former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2007. He was secretary for commerce, industry and technology between 2003 and 2006. He chaired the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December 2005.
Tang's crew pulling in all directions
Could it be that Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen lives in cloud cuckoo land? He says we're all in the same boat steering in the same direction. And that's why we should all support the government's new HK$10 billion Community Care Fund. Let's see now, are you in the same boat with the property tycoons steering in the same direction? They want to sell you 275 square foot flats for HK$6 million. We're sure they'll gladly give you an oar if you want to row along with them. Is dockyard worker Lee Shing-leung - who lost a leg in a work-related accident - rowing in the same direction as our bureaucrats? He wants a disability allowance. They won't give it to him. Do our bureaucrats even know how to row? Every time Public Eye sees them they're in chauffeured cars, not a boat. Are all those 7-Eleven workers on less than HK$20 an hour rowing happily alongside their billionaire Jardine Matheson bosses? Maybe Tang meant we're all in the same boat rowing in different directions. He's probably confused. That happens when you live in cloud cuckoo land.
Real estate lunacy defies explanation
Public Eye would like to thank Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah for enlightening everyone about the perils of buying a flat. But we can't quite figure out his point. He warns in his blog that a family earning HK$23,000 a month would have to pump 54 per cent of this into mortgage payments alone for a HK$1.8 million flat if interest rates returned to normal by rising 3 per cent. What's he saying? Property prices are too high now? Or wages are too low? Since he doesn't explain, we'll tell you. Hong Kong has gone haywire. Property-sector greed has combined with stagnant wages to make homes unaffordable under normal interest rate conditions. Imagine yourself bouncing on a sinking trampoline trying to reach an ever-rising sky. That best describes the growing gap between wages and property prices. How did we get into this black hole of absurd abnormality? Our financial secretary doesn't say. He does say prices for larger flats have surpassed their 1997 lunacy level and smaller flats are nearing that peak, too. Just last year he and other top officials were glibly advising everyone to calm down, since prices were still below 1997 levels. He makes no mention of that in his blog. Maybe he forgot.
Curb canines and keep beaches beautiful
Public Eye doesn't like dogs. Regular readers know that. They poop everywhere. And they howl at night. We loathe that. We particularly hate accidentally stepping on their mushy muck. We don't think it's cute when the little fur balls with their floppy ears and big brown eyes yelp around our ankles. But every time Public Eye takes a shot - not literally - at the dog population the city's canine defenders rise up against us. Well, we would now like to point them in the direction of Shek O Beach. Mutt muck is everywhere - not just from strays, but also from dogs with owners. So watch your step if you decide to stroll barefoot along the golden sands of one of our nicest beaches. Public Eye calls on all hound-huggers to do the right thing. If you adore those creatures so much, go and clean up their mess. You can even wrap the mess up with this column. Just make sure you recycle the rest of the paper.
Heritage sites belong to the people, too
They just don't get it, do they? Even as the people revolt against the rich, our rulers want to turn yet another heritage site into a playground for the privileged. This time it's the Haw Par Mansion - all that's left of the cherished Tiger Balm Garden, which bureaucrats allowed to be destroyed for luxury flats. A historic Wan Chai pawnshop is now The Pawn - a pricey restaurant. And Tsim Sha Tsui's former marine police headquarters has become an upscale hotel and shopping mall. Our planners now want to make the Haw Par Mansion a haunt for the wealthy. And they wonder why there's an anti-rich sentiment.