Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 March, 2011, 12:00am

It's hard to find any leadership

Public Eye would like to say that environment secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah has shown leadership, but we won't because it's not true. Lack of leadership is what he has shown. Japan's nuclear scare forced responsible governments everywhere to rethink their nuclear energy strategy. The US, Europe and even China swiftly reassured their citizens by holding off on more nuclear plants until they took a fresh look at safety. But our government remained mute. It ignored questions on whether it would rethink buying mainland nuclear energy to supply half of our future power needs. Officials hid behind a wall of silence even after the mainland, our only nuclear energy supplier, suspended approval of new plants. Public Eye knows our leaders always second-guess Beijing, never daring to do anything they think could upset their bosses up north. But there was nothing to second-guess this time. Beijing's decision to rethink its nuclear energy strategy was all over the media. So why was it so hard for our government to say it would follow world and Hong Kong opinion? Yau was finally forced to announce a rethink under pressure from legislators. That's not leadership. That's follow the leader. It's yet another example of how our government is always dragged kicking and screaming by public opinion rather than shaping public opinion.

Are we Asia's stupid city?

Isn't it time to stop promoting ourselves as Asia's world city? Surely, we should now rebrand ourselves as Asia's stupid city. Public Eye thinks that's a more accurate description. World city inhabitants would not rush out to buy bags of salt on the rumour that it'll protect them from nuclear radiation. Stupid city inhabitants would. Mainland cities saw a salt rush, too, but none claims to be Asia's world city. Note that we didn't see a salt rush anywhere else, not even in Japan where the nuclear scare is playing out. Public Eye doesn't know what our leaders mean when they say we are Asia's world city. But we presume they mean we are the region's cultural and economic paradise inhabited by smart and sophisticated people. Smart and sophisticated people do not rush out to buy salt. Buffoons do.

Black travel warning just politics

There's no two ways about it. Our government's black travel warning to the Philippines is pure politics. Ask yourself this: why has our government flatly rejected demands by legislators to issue the same travel warning to all of Japan, not just to the four districts around the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant? Ask yourself this, too. What is more of a threat right now: another Philippine gunman killing Hong Kong hostages or being exposed to radiation in Japan through air and food? While you're at it, try making sense of this: security undersecretary Lai Tung-kwok told legislators the government's advice for Hongkongers to leave Tokyo was for fear radiation could quickly worsen, leaving them no time to flee. But he said a black travel warning was unnecessary since Tokyo's radiation level was still normal. Is he saying the government will act only after danger strikes? Won't that be too late, Mr Lai?

Finally, an admission about developers

Have you ever heard a top government official say our property developers are rich and powerful people from whom flat buyers need protection? No? Neither has Public Eye - until now. This is what Raymond Young Lap-moon, home affairs permanent secretary, said in announcing legal aid for flat buyers who sue developers: 'We think we should help those who are misled and cheated by developers... on the grounds of social justice, as developers are rich and powerful.' We had to read it three times to believe it. So, developers are rich and powerful people who cheat homebuyers. Everyone has long known this - everyone except our bureaucrats. What took you so long, Mr Young? And now that you know, will you do more than just provide legal aid? Will you dare toughen our laws - really toughen them - to make it harder for these rich and powerful developers to cheat the people?