• Sat
  • Oct 25, 2014
  • Updated: 2:15pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 3:01am

Pan-democrats reap what they sow

As the Good Book says, you reap what you sow. Suppose a group of government officials or lawmakers from the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong went on a junket to France with all expenses paid by Cathay Pacific. You could already hear the howls of outrage from the pan-democrats and their media allies.

They would demand the Legislative Council investigate. "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung or any number of radicals from People Power would have filed a corruption complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The travellers would be accused of conflict of interest.

As it is, the group that actually went on a six-day trip to France involved only two DAB members, Ip Kwok-him and Elizabeth Quat. The rest included Democratic Party heavyweights Albert Ho Chun-yan and James To Kun-sun as well as accounting lawmaker Kenneth Leung, the Liberal Party's Felix Chung Kwok-pan and independents Chan Kin-por and Ma Fung-kwok. Other travellers were Executive Council member Cheng Yiu-tong, former Airport Authority chief executive Billy Lam Chung-lun, Airport Authority board member Huen Wong, and a Baptist University academic.

Predictably, the pan-democrats and their friends have been low-key about it. The trip came at a sensitive time when Cathay is opposing an application for an air operator's licence by Jetstar Hong Kong, a low-cost airline. Was Cathay trying to influence the people on the trip? Questions are being raised, especially when Ho and To are champions of government transparency and disclosure.

The trip involved attending a ceremony in which Cathay took delivery of a new aircraft, visits to Toulouse and Paris, sightseeings and touring an Airbus factory before returning this week.

I think trips like this are for greedy public functionaries with too much time on their hands but they don't necessarily equate to conflicts of interest or corruption. However, the pan-dems and their allies specialise in nitpicking and making mountains out of mole hills to create controversies and embarrassments to discredit the government and mainland officials. They can hardly expect to be granted quarter now that the shoe is on the other foot.


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Which camp is uglier?
These six guys come from the pro-establishment camp: (1) Cheng Yiu-tong, (2) Ip Kwok-him, (3) Elizabeth Quat, (4) Felix Chung Kwok-pan, (5) Chan Kin-por and (6) Ma Fung-kwok.
These three are from the pan-democracy camp: (1) Albert Ho Chun-yan, (2) James To Kun-sun and (3) Kenneth Leung.
John Adams
Seems like they all have their snouts in the pigs trough when it comes to CX freebies
They should all be ashamed of themselves.
PS : But to be fair (fare !) to CX : I just booked an economy return flight to UK in October on CX . The price seemed horrendous. But then I also checked BA and Virgin and found they cost even more ! So welcome Jetstar and other budget airlines to HK ASAP. And if we DO need a 3rd runway, let the airlines and their passengers pay for it. Not - certainly NOT - we long-suffering HK tax payers (I read somewhere that HKIA landing slots are among the cheapest in the world, and that if only we reclaimed the slots taken by private business aircraft we could manage with just 2 runways for at least 20 years )
And HKers deserve what they reap.
Funny how Apple Daily has no coverage today on these rotten apples; whereas if it was a government official, it would have been splashed across front page.
Besides shaming those went on the trip, albeit no effect of any on such deep rooted collusion culture in Hong Kong, the general public should demand government to reimburse Cathay in full all the expanses it incurred. Punish those who went for poor judgment and barred them from future participation in discussion and voting anything connected with Cathay and airport. I expect SCMP would be double diligent watch over the future development of collusion in the process.
Rule of law, Hong Kong style – collusion in your face.
Any LegCo member who went on that trip should be deeply ashamed and not use the word 'integrity' ever again. And at the very least, they should pay every penny back to Cathay, or donate it to charity.

And yes, one lesson is here: it is not just the DAB-affiliated members that are prone to cronyism and corruption. Anybody who ever thought so must be very naive. It is not about the people, it is not about some moral divide. It is the system, stupid.

Yet, I think the most valuable lesson we can draw from this sorry tale, is actually not one of the problems in our political system. It is that it shows how shamelessly far Cathay and the whole of the affiliated kerosine/concrete lobby are willing and able to go to serve their own interests.

So next time we see yet another report about how badly we need the third runway (because of fantastic growth projections, because Singpore will have one, or because, well - just because), let's ask ourselves whose interest are being served by the endless expansion of an airport with over 300,000 flight movements per year and 48m passengers (2012) in a city of 7m people.
So this how Cathay and the Airport Authority get their unneeded third runway approved and paid for by the community....... but at the same time making sure that low cost carriers are blocked.......
Off with their heads!
This is what "democracy" is really all about : power lust and sleaze.
Wake up AL
Did you just file this to fill the daily column,
delegating opinions write up to your diligent followers,
while working elsewhere on a magnum opus?
This is 97% report,
2% superficial analysis
and 1% knee jerk opinion
Take a small step forward
and propose some use for the superfluous time
that you’ve found among public functionaries
For example: the institution of home work requirement
for all freebie receivers that for every day abroad
they should each write a 100-word page summary of what they have learn
and have these published in a website for every education tour
Like students, functionaries need discipline:
A $50k penalty to be deducted from their salasries
for every page if not published within 14 days of the tour.
What's the chance of having this regulation enacted for the legislature?
Again the question:
Who watch the watch(wo)men?
I can’t believe that Cathay would so shamelessly playing host disregarding public sentiment and the guests so thick skin accepted the invitation disregarding public’s objection. Hong Kong not only deeply immersed in colonial culture but more in China’s pleasurable fact finding trip culture. What a bad combination. The government including the legislators should have paid for their expanses if the trip is all about preparation for a debate if Hong Kong should have the third runway. That is, if such trip is necessary. Public now has no choice but keep a close looks if Starjet license application would be willfully disapproved at the end of this year.
How come the media only learn about the trip after the fact? SCMP, where are your reporters in Hong Kong?
You can't believe Cathay would do this? Why is that...? Because John Slosar is such a bastion of ethical behaviour? Because the aviation industry is such a savoury sector, always playing by the rules?

Because Hong Kong businesses don't have a history of monopolistic rent-seeking, with the implicit or explicit support from our very own government? Or is it because Hong Kong has built such a stellar record in policy making that only takes into account the public good, not the big business interest?




SCMP.com Account