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  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 2:29am
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Aquino should apologise for Manila bus tragedy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 6:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 6:31am

Philippine president Benigno Aquino has made plain he is not going to apologise for the Manila bus tragedy. Yet there is every reason he should do so, both on moral grounds and to get relations with his country and Hong Kong back on track. Pan-democrat politicians have suggested all manner of ideas to force his hand, but the proposals are either mere politicking or would fail due to our city's lack of leverage. Beijing's welcome intervention offers a real chance, though.

Premier Li Keqiang entered the fray at the East Asia Summit, urging Aquino to quickly resolve the three-year-old stand-off. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Philippine leader agreed official-level talks would resume soon. There have since been conflicting statements by Aquino and others in his administration, giving the impression that Manila lacks the resolve to bring closure to the victims and their families. The president clearly has that ability, though. The apology to Taiwan for the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters by the Philippine coastguard in May is ample proof.

Taiwan was able to force the apology because of the Philippines' strong trade, tourism and employment links to the island. The threat of sanctions was enough to make Aquino break his silence. But Hong Kong, having less than one-third the population, is not in so powerful a position. Suggestions such as that made by the radical People Power party, which has called for the banning of the 160,000 Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong, are not helpful. Years would pass before it could take effect and employers as well as the maids and the families they support at home would suffer.

Boycotting Philippine products - Hong Kong is the fourth-biggest importer - is similarly unwise due to the disruption of supply chains. Working with Beijing to pressure Aquino to see reason would be more effective. China is the Philippines' third-largest trading partner and it has ever-growing levels of tourism and investment. The importance of China to the Philippines means the country cannot do without the relationship.

The Manila police gravely mishandled attempts to end the hijacking of the tour bus by a former colleague. On live television, we watched their incompetence lead to a shoot-out that left eight of the group dead and seven injured. Justice and compensation are the least that could be expected. If Aquino does not act responsibly and apologise, the best hope of changing his mind lies with Beijing.

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This article is now closed to comments

jd.salinger.3154
JC. There are incoherencies in your arguments and your memory is not so hot. This "let's be very clear" language that you might have learned from Hillary 'Benghazi' Clinton is not taking you anywhere as far as this conversation is concerned. Let me ask you a question: What law did the journalist break at APEC? (Hint: APEC rules are not laws)
chanaa
' law of the jungle ? ' aquino presides over a population that has more people below the poverty line than entire hk population. He has to deal with lack of infrastructure, floods & earthquakes. Apec is an economic forum, I think apologising to the HKers are least of his priority.
Asean will stand by its neighbours & wont give a **** about what HK thinks.
Oh, yeah, your law of the jungle statement explains exactly what you are.
ecpath
Whoever wrote the article is probably buried in a load of cow dung !
chanaa
no they shoud not. we dont see the US fire dept apologising for the asiana chinese student death. We dont see kenya apologising for the mall massacre. Heck, we dont even see CY apologising for the Lamma tragedy.
so really, HK, get real & get over your superiority complex
composer
Oh dear, jandajel sums up the situation well, and Mr Salinger can only lob insults ad hominem. Aquino has nothing to apologise for - a criminal act happens in any country.
I would advise all HongKongers to visit Philippines - a beautiful and safe place with exceptionally friendly people - and I am pleased to see that the planes going there are almost always full.
Drop this prejudiced nonsense and get on with life.
jd.salinger.3154
Thanks for the compliment. I am honored to have stirred up enough commotion to keep people engaged, I learned this from Hollywood. My replies only reflect the quality of the comments I respond to. Try thinking.
KwunTongBypass
When is the owner of Lamma IV, a substandard vessel, equipped with substandard navigation and safety equipment, and operated following substandard procedures going to publicly apologize? Or are you all too chicken to ask?
zvichadashote
Mr. Salinger, did the Hong Kong government apologize to Nepal when HK policeman shot a homeless Nepalese man weilding a chair? That was also a botched reaction by HK police - as bad as the botched rescue attempt by Manila police. Not to speak about the botched rescue by Germany of the Israeli hostages at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Not only was there no apology, but later Germany FREED the Arab perpetrators who had been jailed in order to free a hijacked Lufthansa plane! Hong Kong, please stop this crazy notion that the Philippine government owes you an apology! The only apology they should make is to their own citizens for having a pathetic police force.
HK-Lover
Your are not correct.
The German chancellor that time, Willy Brandt and minister of foreign affairs, Hans-Dietrich Genscher , both apologised to the people of Israel, the victim's families and Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel.
German politicians offered themselves to be exchanged for the hostages but were refused by the terrorists.
Germany took the immediate consequence from the botched rescue and setup the GSG9, today one of the worlds top anti-terrorism units
jd.salinger.3154
Your mental faculties certainly require some fine-tuning. The examples you gave only prove the people of Hong Kong have a better understanding of law and justice to demand what is fair for their case. Nevertheless, I am giving you credit for parroting the word 'pathetic' from my comment before you, unlike @jandajel who basically logged back in and updated an entire paragraph with a phrase I used from my earlier reply to him/her. I now understand how tough a task it is to debate with dopes (pardon my french).

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