Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:56am

Time to bring closure to hostage tragedy


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 TVB’s Straight Talk 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.

Insensitive? Callous would be a better word. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying insists he will press ahead with his ultimatum for the Philippines to kowtow over the hostage tragedy or face trade sanctions. Slapping sanctions for the killing of eight Hongkongers by a madman when the country has more than 10,000 dead from the worst typhoon ever? Maybe Leung is really not that callous. Maybe he just fears a backdown would make him look weak. Hong Kong's vengeance dressed as justice is furthest from President Benigno Aquino's mind as he deals with the devastation. Now is a good time for Hongkongers to show compassion by bringing closure to the hostage tragedy.


Exco had full licence to reject HKTV application

So much has been said about television licences that we are all lost in a fog of truths, half-truths and lies. Opposition politicians further fanned public outrage when the Communications Authority accused the government of ignoring its advice to issue three licences. Public Eye visited the authority's website. It states: "The Chief Executive in Council may, after considering recommendations made by the Communications Authority, grant a licence to provide a domestic free television programme service subject to such conditions as he thinks fit …" That is as clear as it gets. The authority's conditions for a licence state: "This guidance note does not bind the Chief Executive in Council and/or the Communications Authority to consider any application or to grant any licence …" It makes clear neither Exco nor the authority is liable for losses incurred by applicants who follow the guide. This means Ricky Wong Wai-kay should blame himself for investing millions before even getting a licence. It also means the top government official, said to be then commerce secretary Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, who promised Wong a licence if he met all the conditions had no right to do so. Exco's decision went against public opinion but it did play by the rules.


Beijing not guilty of dangerous liaisons

Public Eye wants to make it clear: the central government's liaison office should keep its nose out of Hong Kong's domestic affairs. But how to define domestic affairs? Our opposition politicians are screaming foul because the liaison office talked to pro-establishment lawmakers before a failed Legislative Council vote last week to force disclosure of Exco documents on TV licences. But is getting involved in TV licences meddling? Definitely, if the office interfered in how many Exco should grant. But not if it was lobbying to prevent disclosure of confidential documents. Even Ricky Wong, who was refused a licence, insisted the office did not interfere. Of course, the office wants to prevent disclosure of Exco papers. It's not interference but protecting our system of executive-led government. If Legco can force disclosure of cabinet papers, we might as well make Exco meetings public. But where in the world are cabinet meetings open?


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