Wen hears the people, but HK leaders are deaf
It was a case of listening but not actually hearing what the people had to say. That's why Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's budget backfired. We all know that now. It turns out Premier Wen Jiabao knows too. Public Eye is not sure if Tsang listened to Wen's words about Hong Kong at a Beijing conference two days ago. What we mean is we know he listened - he has no choice since Wen is the boss - but did he bother to actually hear? Some of what Wen said may be too deep for our leaders to understand. But we think if they try to combine listening with hearing they'll get the gist of it. Wen talked of the need for Hong Kong to have a long-term vision, to use our vast wealth to benefit the people, to help the underclass and to tackle livelihood issues. Where have we heard all that before? Oh yes, from the people. They've long been asking for all those things. But our leaders were not hearing them. None except Wen, it now turns out. Why is it that Wen can hear what the people want, the people can make themselves be heard by Wen, yet our own leaders - the ones we pay to hear us - are so clueless?
Some are clueless as ever ...
Public Eye wrote last week about one of those clueless people - Professor Lau Siu-kai, who heads the government's Central Policy Unit which tracks the public mood. Lau was at his most clueless in 2003 when he said only 30,000 would join that year's July 1 protest march. Half a million marched. We said last week we didn't know how much Lau is paid. Now we know. The people pay him HK$200,000 a month plus perks to advise top officials such as the financial secretary on the public mood. He has been in the job since 2002 but time has not helped. He is still as clueless as ever. Just look at the angry public mood that greeted John Tsang's budget.
... but still clued in to the fund managers
Our leaders may be clueless when it comes to what the people want. But they're certainly clued in when it comes to what the big boys want. They want your money, and when the big boys speak, our leaders hear. Our money-grabbing fund managers have been taking - Public Eye calls it stealing - 2 per cent of your MPF retirement savings in administration fees. That's what they demanded when the MPF was created. The government listened - and heard. Every survey shows the people feel the fee is obscenely high. The latest one showed 80 per cent of those polled felt they were being cheated. The people have long demanded lower fees and an MPF overhaul. But our leaders like to strike a balance, as they keep saying. They listen to the people but hear the fund managers.
Travel warnings make little sense
Public Eye puzzled over it for a long time, but we just couldn't figure it out. A monster earthquake and tsunami strike Japan, killing thousands and knocking out a nuclear plant where there is now a radioactive leak scare. Our government immediately slaps a black travel warning but only on the worst-hit Fukushima district, and yesterday to three other districts. It issues only a red travel warning for the rest of Japan, meaning you might just want to think twice about going there for now. A Filipino police inspector disgruntled over being sacked hijacks a tour bus in Manila and kills eight Hong Kong hostages. Our government slaps a black travel warning, not only on Manila but for the whole country. That was more than six months ago, but the warning against all travel to the Philippines remains. Could it be that our government believes there are crazed gunmen stalking all of the Philippines waiting to hijack buses and kill Hongkongers, making it a far more dangerous place than the nuclear scare in Japan? We've given up trying to figure it out. Our government, like God, works in mysterious ways.