Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am

With a listener like John Tsang, why speak?

Didn't Public Eye tell you it was all bull poop? Now Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has proved us right. Remember being bombarded with that government TV advert showing Tsang eavesdropping on what people hoped for in his budget? Remember how he faced the camera to say he would listen to their views. Public Eye knew it was bull poop. We knew he would listen with one ear and let it flow out the other. That is what our bureaucrats do. We have told you that, too. If Tsang had really listened to the people, why would everyone think his budget stinks? Why would legislators threaten to vote it down? Here is something you should know: our bureaucrats always do what they think is best for the people, not what the people think is best for them. We have told you that before, too. Tsang proved us right. He said he would 'humbly listen' to all the public criticism but would not budge. Instead, he would tell the people the budget was good for them. It took a near-revolt by pro-government legislators for him to promise a rethink. So remember this word: bull poop. That is what you tell yourself whenever a bureaucrat tells you your views are important.

At least one group's happy with the budget

Public Eye got it slightly wrong. Not everyone thinks John Tsang's budget stinks. Fund managers think it is manna from heaven. They are right. If Tsang's HK$24 billion injection into MPF accounts goes ahead, they will get HK$500 million in management fees. A question for the fund managers: will you donate this manna from heaven to the frail old men and women who collect cardboard boxes for a living? We hear silence, so we will ask again: will you? More silence.

Come clean on the Sheffield affair

Let's get this straight. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen will re-examine Graham Sheffield's job contract to see if he broke any rules? Re-examine? Doesn't he know what is in it? It is a multimillion-dollar contract, for goodness sake. And it came with pricey perks paid for by the people. Didn't Tang, who is chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, examine the contract when Sheffield abruptly quit as chief executive after just a few months? Sheffield blamed ill health but Public Eye said at the time something stank about the messy affair. Sheffield came here a healthy man but then claimed he had quickly become so ill he could no longer stay. So sick was he that he could not even fly back from his Christmas break in Britain. But the gravely ill Sheffield managed to muster up enough stamina to apply for a British Council job 12 days before informing his Hong Kong bosses he was too sick to return. He is now fit and raring to go after winning the British Council job. Well, miraculous recoveries do occur. Even the dead can be raised. You can read all about it in the Bible. What is not in the Bible is if too much bureaucratic meddling made Sheffield ill. Or if his illness was faked. The facts show he applied for a new job just before saying he was too ill to continue as our arts chief. Sheffield's perks included a pricey harbour-view flat. Did the people pay the penalty for him breaking the lease? Did we also pay the refund penalty for the unused part of his presumably first-class ticket to Britain? Tang needs to do more than re-examine whether Sheffield breached his contract by taking up another job. He needs to remove the stench of secrecy that shrouds the affair.

Ban on idling engines just a sick joke

Legislators are expected to finally approve a ban on idling engines today. Do not applaud. But if you must, clap with just one hand. Today's vote to ban idling engines does not represent successful policymaking to clean our filthy air. It represents failure. The ban is a sick joke. Our gutless government took years to get it moving. Our legislators bowed to vested interests. There are so many exemptions that today's vote should be seen as the burial of the ban rather than its birth.