Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2011, 12:00am

Time for police chief to come clean over access to vigil

Our police chief needs to come clean. Why did officers close some Victoria Park entrances last Saturday when thousands were still streaming in for the annual June 4 candle-light vigil? Did they have an ulterior motive? Organisers say, yes. They say officials didn't want a large turnout. Public Eye has yet to hear anything convincing enough from the police to counter that claim. The usual nonsense about crowd control won't do. This is not about the rights and wrongs of the Tiananmen crackdown. It's about the right to free speech. People expect the police to protect this right, not manipulate it. The vigil has been held peacefully every year for more than two decades, so why restrict entry this time? To paint the protest as a failure? It's easy to believe the police want to project politically sensitive protests as failures. They always give far lower turnout numbers than protest organisers. They did that again for Saturday's vigil - 77,000 versus 150,000. But now the police stand accused of deliberately trying to keep numbers down. This charge will bolster the public belief that our police, under new commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung, have become more heavy-handed. Tsang's arrogant swagger since taking over has only fuelled this belief. The public is owed a credible explanation. Did the police deliberately violate free speech by stopping people from attending the vigil?

Government edges ever closer to the self-destruct button

Is our government about to self-destruct? It's lurching from one crisis to the next. Forget about the old ones - absurdly high property prices, a widening wealth gap, worsening air pollution and so on. Just consider the new ones. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah couldn't even get his budget right. Public outrage forced him to give a HK$6,000 bribe to every adult citizen. But, four months later, he still can't figure out how to give away this money. Is giving away money really that difficult? Then we had the crisis of illegal structures. It turned out even our top leaders had illegal add-ons at their pricey private homes. And now the former government's information technology chief, Jeremy Godfrey, is claiming Tsang politically meddled in the awarding of a multi-million dollar internet learning contract. What next? Tsang handing out even more money to sidetrack the masses?

Flat-out madness is a sure sign of an inflating housing bubble

Step right up, folks, flats for sale. Lousy location but great prices. Just HK$5.19 million for 297 sq ft. A bargain for sure. Going, going, gone. Yes, you're reading this right. A one-bedroom 297 sq ft flat at the i.UniQ Residence, located in Shau Kei Wan's dumpy side, really did sell for HK$5.19 million last month. If that's not enough lunacy, a 581 sq ft flat at the same place went for nearly HK$10 million. Agents said virtually all the buyers at the launch were mainlanders. Our leaders keep saying they'll roll out cooling measures when the time is right. What are they waiting for - the next bubble? This one is ready to burst.

Judge's ruling could be a breath of fresh air for all of us

Judge David Lok Kai-hong has Public Eye thinking. He's the district court judge who fined a family HK$75,000 for polluting a building corridor by burning incense. A neighbour had sued the family for causing her breathing problems, stress and headaches. Do those symptoms sound familiar? They're the exact ones that doctors say our filthy air causes. The judge also ordered the family to use less polluting joss sticks, burn them only twice a day and for just 30 minutes each time. If you can win because smoke gets in your eyes from joss sticks, can you win if filth gets in your lungs? That's what got us thinking. What if everyone sued the bus companies, power firms and vehicle owners for making them sick with air-polluting buses, coal-burning and idling engines? And what if everyone also sued the government for doing nothing about it? How would any judge dare throw the case out if you cite Judge Lok's ruling as a precedent? Surely, filthy air is worse than joss stick smoke. Isn't it worth thinking about?