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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:01am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 3:29am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 3:29am

Show solidarity, not indifference, in face of Philippine typhoon disaster

What is wrong with our leaders in Hong Kong and Beijing? If there is ever a time when realpolitik, cold diplomacy and humanitarianism converge, it is now.

Large swathes of the Philippines have been devastated by one of the worst storms on record. The country needs help - and fast. But while other countries are rushing in aid and personnel, Hong Kong is threatening economic sanctions over the hostage killings three years ago.

Can we pause for a moment to think about how that looks to the rest of the world? When asked about it yesterday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government has no plan to extend the one-month ultimatum before imposing sanctions. So the last person in the administration who is reputed to have common sense has lost her head too.

Lam and her boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, should come out now and declare the ultimatum has been cancelled. No sanctions will be considered, not now, not ever. That is not only the right thing to do; it is the only thing to do. They should then rush the HK$40 million in disaster relief funding through the Legislative Council for approval tomorrow and work with NGOs to bring the money and aid to the Philippines as quickly as possible.

Why? Because 160,000 of our expatriate residents are Filipinos; we should show solidarity, not indifference. We should show the world we are not all racist chauvinists like the pan-democrat People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip, who spearheaded the sanctions initiative in Legco.

Where is Beijing in all this? Americans are dispatching an aircraft carrier and four battleships to help with relief efforts. Britain has sent a warship. Japan is sending troops. Together, they have pledged at least US$30 million, though the UN estimates the Philippines will need about US$301 million. Beijing has reportedly promised US$100,000.

Presumably that's only a preliminary sum, because if it is not, you might as well not bother. I know the party bosses have been preoccupied by the all-important third plenum to introduce reform. But that's no excuse.

At current growth rates, the Philippines will not stay poor forever. When it becomes the new tiger economy, you want to make friends, not foes.


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This article is now closed to comments

The bureaucracy suffers from sclerosis. It decided the sanctions will start at a certain date, and the date is now set in concrete. To consider to change the date is a great "mafan," it might even interfere with previously-arranged lunch reservations.
New meetings must be held (to blur accountability), new recommendations made and approved, etc. The result is that HK will impose sanctions on a country that's in a national crisis.
Our government has become pathetic.
Agree. Shame on our leaders. "Lam, by comparison what are you doing with the "killing" of lama boat disaster? Who is apologizing (for marine department failing to do the inspection) and the CLP for not properly staffing the boat and putting up a proper door? Who is compensating!"
AL: please write something in this!
Shame shame shame HK! Not only shameful, I believe hk is no longer an international city, please stop calling ourself as Asia World City! If you tune into American CBC, ABC, NBC, CNN etc they are making headlines and detail reporting in these typhoon and asking donation everywhere. If same things happening in HK, I'm sure any other countries will do the reciprocal. Why can't we wait al least for the sanction. I think this is stupid in the first place. Agree we have over 160k Philippine workers here we have to respect these people as they had helped us, it is a two way street. I would like to ask all employers to show support to your maid by better caring and or give them extra money to show your support. Shame shame shame hk.
Is it any wonder that SE Asian countries look to the US much more so than they do to China? Compare what the US is doing with what China has offered. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Supposedly, China has designs on becoming the regional hegemon. She has funny ways of going about it.
China looks arrogant, mean and petty in all this, with justification. May it receive the same compassion it shows others.
First, I hope our leaders are not so naive to think hk hiring 160k maids is a very graceful offer. Why? If in Canada and USA people are allowed to hire maid for this price and work like a slave for long hours (see the case of hk biz man jailed) I'm sure all these 160k maids are gone by tomorrow. My points is this strictly biz deal no one owe anyone. We made a good deal. Second, when was the last time our government apologize for anything they had done? So why are they expecting others to apologize? Third, I'm sure we have people killed in developing countries and maybe some part of China in accidents due to lower standard of safety or medical help that were unacceptable in hk standard. did we ask for apology? Where do we draw the line? Last but not least, I don't like the Philippine president as he looks arrogant but I don't see he is more arrogant than our CS.
ENEMY? Seriously? an island stone-throw away from a philippine coastline is china? Do you know Exclusive Economic Zone means?
Absolutely, well said Alex.
filipino prez can hold a press conference and smile and sh*t like it's no biggie. Alex Lo, go suck a bag of d_cks.




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