• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:43pm
PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 9:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 1:40am

MTR madness: overcrowding and the politics of Cheung Chi-kong

Michael Chugani says Cheung Chi-kong's gaffe about overcrowding has not only made him out to be a fool but also hurt CY Leung


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Last Wednesday I took the MTR from Central to Kowloon Tong at 7.40 in the morning for a radio show. Most passengers were early bird local commuters but I did hear some Putonghua. I took the MTR back to Central at around 9.30am. This time I heard far more Putonghua. A sizeable chunk of the passengers in my packed carriage were mainland tourists who had streamed in from the border on the East Rail Line and were making train connections in Kowloon Tong.

At 12.15pm I took the MTR again from Central to Admiralty. This time, I heard more Putonghua than Cantonese.

Whenever I travel back and forth from Central to Tai Po for my TV shows, mainlanders with wheeled suitcases and other bulky baggage overwhelm the East Rail. Unscientific as this poll may be, it does show that mainland visitors worsen congestion on our MTR trains. That means Cheung Chi-kong is either blind or an idiot, or he doesn't ride the MTR.

Cheung ignited public fury last week when he told a forum that the flood of mainlanders does not add to MTR overcrowding. Such an inane remark would normally be dismissed as the uninformed opinion of a fool. But Cheung is a member of the Executive Council and a trusted adviser of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. As such, you wonder what kind of advice he has been giving Leung on growing tension between locals and mainlanders.

Cheung is also the head of the pro-Beijing One Country Two Systems Research Institute. I couldn't help but think political expediency made him blame locals. Cheung sits on the side of the fence where it is a no-no to say anything negative about the mainland.

The public rightly ridiculed him for being a dunderhead. Anyone who thinks 40 million mainland visitors a year do not worsen congestion on an already overstretched MTR system in a city of seven million can't be thinking straight. In fact, studies show the bulk of mainland visitors use the MTR.

He tried to explain away his gaffe with the clownish excuse that he was speaking off the cuff in Putonghua, which he claimed he's not very good at. He must think we're all fools. A Beijing loyalist with lousy Putonghua who heads a pro-Beijing think-tank but can't do without prepared speeches? Now I have heard everything.

It is people like Cheung who give a bad name to the so-called loyalist camp. His inane remark added to the public perception that that group puts Hong Kong's interests second. What else should long-suffering MTR commuters think when told by a trusted adviser of the chief executive that they only have themselves to blame for overcrowded trains?

Not only did Cheung make a fool of himself, he also hurt Leung in the process, and he helped the cause of those activists who dub mainland visitors "locusts". What policy message is the government sending when the chief executive now admits too many mainlanders visit but his adviser blames locals for congestion? Or when the commerce secretary says we can handle 70 million visitors a year and commuters should wait if they can't board the first train?

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com


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Gunny they don't deserve any respect, Michael is 100% right to highlight the hypocrisy and stupidity of these morons
"Dunderheads and idiots". A new title for a book about all HKSAR governments since 1997. You write it, Michael, and I'll buy it...
"...congestion on an already overstretched MTR system in a city of seven million ..."
And it will be significantly worse in just a few years time, once both South Island Line,
and Shatin-Central Line terminate at Admiralty.
Thousands more passengers will want to transfer to the Island Line.
A plan has existed since August 2000, that would double the rail capacity between Central and North Point - its called the "North Island Line". It also adds 2 new stations in Causway Bay, and in Wanchai, which is also transfer station, for the Shatin-Central, to/from North Island Line.
Our idiot legislators have done nothing to prevent this rail crisis from irrupting.
Beyond the finger waging sound bites and endless procrastination, they are functionally impotent.
Dunderheads, Idiots and clowns! The list goes on for HKs who's who
Absolutely right. These 2 fools should be investigated for perverting good governance here.
Any conflict of interests somewhere ?
Spot on, again.
Cheung chi-kong lives in another world as long as the hk taxpayers pays for his job of being a clown,this is a slap in the face among people of Hk.And the list's go on.....
So Michael, when are you going to apply to be the CE of HK? Can't wait to read the negative comments and critisisms launched at you.
I hope people give you more respect then what you've been dishing out.
i'm running low on toilet papers too
pbhawk, you are right, no one deserves respect, so no one gets any respect, and no one will ever be respected in the future...right?
Amazing precedence we'll be setting for our future leaders.




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