Shame On You Award
And the winner is? That's right, folks. It's time again for Public Eye's annual Name and Shame Awards, a proud tradition now in its fourth year. We alone are judge and jury in deciding who gets on the list - you have no say. It didn't take us even a second to decide who should top the Shame List of 2010. The winner is Cafe de Coral boss Michael Chan Yue-kwong. He's the scrooge who gave his underpaid staff a paltry pay rise then took it away by cancelling their paid meal breaks. He's the meanie who paid cleaner Ms Lau HK$22 an hour for 17 years without a pay rise. He made half a billion dollars in profits but opposed even a modest minimum wage law. He reinstated paid meal breaks only after days of public ridicule. To Michael Chan we confer the Shame On You Award.
Heart of Cold Award
Finishing a close second is another meanie - legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan. He viciously fought against a minimum wage law even though Hong Kong's low-end workers in particular are exploited by bosses who pay them slave wages. When a minimum wage law became inevitable, he said the level should be no more than HK$20 an hour. That's about HK$4,000 a month. Only public outrage forced him to eat his words. But he was unrepentant. He backed Cafe de Coral's cancellation of paid meal breaks. To Tommy Cheung we confer the Heart of Cold Award.
Gods of Greed Award
No shame list is complete without our property developers. They topped our list last year and would have again this year had it not been for the shameful behaviour of Michael Chan and Tommy Cheung. Greed continued to guide our developers during the year. Henderson Land boasted it had sold the world's priciest flat at HK$439 million, plus 19 others for sky-high sums. Then it confessed the sales never went through, arousing public suspicion that the whole thing was faked to drive up prices. It marketed the top floor of a 40-storey building as the lucky 88th floor to jack up the price. But even more shameful was the stomach-churning greed of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), which teamed up with developer Nan Fung Group to force 16 families out of five low-rise buildings in Wan Chai. They used the land to build Queen's Cube, where flats with just 275 square feet of living space were priced at an eye-popping HK$6 million - almost five times more than the paltry compensation they paid to the families they drove out. To the URA and other developers we confer the Gods of Greed Award.
Cloud Cuckoo Land Award
Someone has to be shamed for all those bad air days we've had throughout the year. The award rightfully belongs to Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah. Public Eye confers on him the Weak-Kneed Award. He talked tough, telling us he would impose a ban on idling engines. Then his knees began to give way. When taxi and other commercial vehicle drivers confronted him, he blinked, exempting them from the law and so making it meaningless. His weak knees are also why the bus companies still dare to use outdated, filth-spewing buses and why the power companies still use dirty fossil fuels. But it's not fair to just shame Yau. All our top bureaucrats should be shamed for not even being able to understand why the people are furious over the rich-poor gap, the property market rip-offs and the manipulation of workers. They can't understand because they live in a different world. On all the city's bureaucrats we confer the Cloud Cuckoo Land Award.
Our final award goes to the policeman who let loose an 'aargh' and fell to the ground after being slapped on the face by Amina Bokhary. A burly cop floored by a slap from a small woman who was stopped for drink-driving? That surely deserves an award. We were going to give him the Weak-Kneed Award but that's gone. So he gets the Wimp Award.