Public Eye

Pan-democrats should learn to haggle like housewives

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 5:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 5:46am

Haggling over the price of vegetables in a wet market? Yes, but Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong's comment wasn't a politically incorrect jibe at housewives. He was likening squabbling by pan-democrats over political reform to price-haggling in a market. The man seems to like his metaphors. Not too long ago, in the thick of the storm over Exco's rejection of a free-to-air television licence for Ricky Wong Wai-kay, Lam sneered that running a television station was not like running a cha chaan teng. But he's right on both counts. Running a television station is not the same as running a teahouse. And the pan-democrats are indeed behaving as if bargaining over a model for democracy is the same as haggling over vegetables. Still, we think Lam owes our housewives an apology. They at least know what their bottom price is, and how to haggle in good faith. Public Eye has never seen a housewife hurl eggs at a seller if they can't agree a price. But not only have some pan-democrats hurled eggs, they've even threatened to hurl petrol bombs. We suggest the pan-democrats visit wet markets for a close-up look at how housewives haggle. We're sure they'll learn a thing or two about compromise. And their safety will be assured. Neither housewives nor sellers will hurl eggs at them, as pan-democrat supporters did at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.


Compromise is a dying art in Hong Kong politics

Whoever said politics was the art of compromise certainly didn't have Hong Kong politicians in mind. In Hong Kong, politics is the art of egg-throwing, with the threat of petrol bombs to follow. And it's the art of boycotts. After Zhang Xiaoming's lunch at the Legislative Council, the liaison office boss wants to reciprocate with a lunch for all Legco members. It's a godsend to explore compromise over political reforms. But already three pan-democrats have announced boycotts - the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung of the egg-throwing League of Social Democrats, and Gary Fan Kwok-wai of the NeoDemocrats. Even Leung Chun-ying is playing the boycott game, too. Media reports said he ordered all top ministers to boycott the Liberal Party's 20th anniversary bash on Monday because of the supposedly pro-government party's hostility. Compromise? You can't expect children to understand what that means.


MTR's big-money bosses owe us better

Ordinarily, Public Eye wouldn't make a big deal about MTR shutdowns. No subway system can guarantee perfection. But in Hong Kong's case, we have a right to demand perfection because of the exorbitant pay and perks of our top MTR officials. MTR boss Jay Walder is paid about HK$10 million a year, including bonuses, making him the world's highest-paid railway official. The railway takes every opportunity to squeeze higher fares from passengers even when it earns billions in profits. That makes Monday's five-hour shutdown of the Tseung Kwan O line an outrage. It's even more outrageous that MTR officials with fat-cat salaries performed like dunderheads in arranging alternative transport.


Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV host.