Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am

Come clean about why cultural head quit

Really? Graham Sheffield really quit as head of the multibillion-dollar West Kowloon cultural project for health reasons? All those who believe that raise your hands. What, no hands? Public Eye hasn't raised ours either. Something stinks. The people have a right to know what it is. Nearly HK$22 billion of public money is going into the project. That's plenty enough to buy transparency. But so far we've had none. Sheffield flew back to Britain over Christmas and never came back. His doctor called the government to say he needed complete rest. He himself then called to say he was quitting. He refused to talk to the media. What so spooked him about the HK$3.5 million-a-year job that he gave it up after only five months? The executive director before him quit after just one week. Other top executives have also left. Why? The government won't say. Maybe Sheffield really is sick. But he came here a healthy man. What was it about the job that made him so sick he couldn't take it any more? Too much bureaucratic meddling? That's what one of his friends said. The project already has a troubled past. Our money-mad government tried to disguise a property development as a cultural project. The people were not duped. Now the government wants to put a lid on Sheffield's departure. It shouldn't be allowed to get away with that. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who is overseeing the project, needs to come clean.

Here's a better idea than hosting Asian Games

So, how's your kid doing? Got asthma yet from the filthy air? Wouldn't it be nice if the government spent HK$6 billion cleaning up the air so your kid could breathe again? But the government doesn't think that would be money well spent. It wants to blow HK$6 billion on hosting the Asian Games in 2023 instead. If it was your money what would you spend it on - clean air or putting Hong Kong in the sports spotlight for a couple of weeks? OK, we hear you. But you know what - it is your money the government wants to blow. It has become so obsessed with bringing the Games here that top officials, from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen down, have been hard-selling it to the public. At least half our legislators have said they won't approve the money. Yet the government continues to push and plead. Have you ever seen our officials work so tirelessly on something before, aside from the pricey railway to Guangzhou for the business elite? Have you seen them work so tirelessly on cleaning up our polluted air? OK, that's a stupid question. But here's a question that's not stupid: if we do host the Games, will the athletes of 2023 want to risk coming and competing in a future Hong Kong where the smog is so thick they can't see the finishing line?

Wong Tai Sin Temple's new pay-to-pray service

Now you can pay to pray. The money you pay will guarantee the ear of the gods. All it costs is HK$100. That will even include a sign from the gods that they have heard your prayers. And if you don't know how to pray, volunteers are available to convey your message to heaven. You can't get a better bargain than that. This pay-to-pray package is being offered by Wong Tai Sin Temple, which has just opened a new HK$100 million prayer hall. It's off-limits to all except paying customers. You can choose any one of 60 gods inside the hall to worship for your hundred bucks. When you finish worshipping the god of your choice, smoke will rise behind it and a lamp will light up. That's the sign that the god has heard your prayer. But what if your prayer is not answered? What if you pray to win the Mark Six lottery and you don't? Does your HK$100 prayer cost come with a money-back guarantee? The temple bosses don't say. Maybe they're still consulting with the gods on that.