Chambers of commerce out to protect their own vested interests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2011, 12:00am


The solicitude displayed by Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, with regard to use of public funds almost brought tears to my eyes. He said that 'the four major business chambers have reached a consensus to plug the loophole, as holding [unnecessary by elections] is a waste of public money' ('Legco by-election forum gatecrashed by protesters', September 2).

Then I began to wonder why he and the chambers had raised no objections to the disbursement of HK$6,000 to all permanent residents, regardless of their means, that will cost twice as much in various bank and other fees as last year's by-elections did. The capital sum could have been better spent on alleviating deep-rooted problems in the community.

Nor have we ever heard him or the chambers questioning why the estimated costs of infrastructure projects are constantly being inflated at rates much higher than that of increases in wages and sundry construction costs. Here we are talking about billions of additional costs to the community, not millions.

If Mr Wu and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce are so concerned about preserving community funds, then why are they, while purporting to support the introduction of a competition law, nit-picking on each and every detail in a blatant attempt to emasculate it, in a similar manner to the reduction of the idling engine legislation to an irrelevant joke? Check out on its website the 14-page letter of objections forwarded to the Bills Committee on Competition Bill on March 8.

Our government outsources more services than any company, so the Treasury would benefit enormously from a competitive environment.

But, of course, an open market is the last thing the chambers and their vested-interest members want. As for elections, the chamber has functional constituency representation. Controlled selection is therefore its preferred option.

Mr Wu and fellow chamber members are not fooling anyone when they claim to be acting on behalf of the community and only show how completely out of touch they are when they profess to anything but blatant self-interest.

Free elections give more power to the voters to engage in the decision-making process, while the chambers prefer a system that allows their members to have disproportionate representation and influence.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan