Tsang has chance to beat Goliath
What - our leaders are actually siding with the little guys? Don't they always cosy up to the big boys instead? Go on, scratch your heads. But a real showdown is shaping up: our government versus big business. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen himself is leading the charge, deriding our two powerful electricity companies for greedy price rises. CLP Power and Hongkong Electric already make billions a year in profits. Tsang wants them to search their consciences. He wants them to behave responsibly at a time when inflation is biting the little guys hard. But the power companies have told him to shove off. They say they will not budge from their demand to fatten their profits further. And there is little the government can do. CLP Power has a monopoly to supply electricity to Kowloon and the New Territories. Hongkong Electric's monopoly covers Hong Kong Island and Lamma. The government does not have the guts to smash this arrangement. Not only that, its monopoly agreement with the power firms guarantees them a yearly profit of 9.99 per cent of assets using conventional resources. And it allows them to impose price rises to achieve that. It is more than just a monopoly. It is perpetual manna from heaven. Who will triumph in the showdown? The little guys or the big boys? In Hong Kong, big business has no regard for biblical tales. David always loses to Goliath. But this showdown offers the government a chance at redemption. It can shame the power companies into backing down. It can threaten to kill their monopolies. It can slash their guaranteed profits. Or it can buckle to big business. Who is the real boss in Hong Kong, the government or big business? The answer lies in who ends up winning the showdown.
Yau threatens deal he crafted
Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah was in a huff last week. Taking a cue from his boss, Donald Tsang, he accused the power companies of social irresponsibility by profiteering. He threatened to re-do the deal that allows CLP Power and Hongkong Electric to maximise profits through price rises. Before he thinks his bluster makes him out to be a tough guy, Public Eye would like to remind him of one thing: he offered the deal that allows the two firms to profiteer. He is now questioning the deal he crafted. Stop huffing and puffing, Mr Yau. Show the power companies who is boss.
Stalking journalists under threat
It stinks - that is what Public Eye thinks of the government's proposed law to criminalise stalking. Star-crazed loonies who stalk celebrities, or dirty old men who stalk children, should be punished. That much we agree. But the proposed law as it stands could target reporters who trail newsmakers. Adeline Wong Ching-man, undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, says the media need not worry. Reporters can use reasonableness as a legal defence. But how do you define reasonableness? A reporter would consider it reasonable to stalk a powerful politician who cheats on his wife. But the politician would think it unreasonable to be hounded. Would the police arrest the reporter or tell the politician to shove off? Would the judge jail the reporter or tell the politician the public has the right to know about his secret sex life? Would you care to answer, Adeline Wong?
Democratic splintering continues
Enough already. How many political parties do we need? The latest to pop up is the Labour Party - a new party with the same old faces. We now have the Democratic Party, DAB, New People's Party, League of Social Democrats, People Power, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, and God knows what else. The Labour Party - headed by legislator Lee Cheuk-yan - is yet another group sliced off from the democracy movement. Don't they know that by splintering the movement they not only confuse their supporters but also weaken their base? Haven't they heard of united we stand, divided we fall?
CLP Power's planned average tariff price rise for next year
- Hongkong Electric has reduced its 2012 price rise to 6.3 per cent