• Mon
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Updated: 6:21pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 2:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 2:11am

Benigno Aquino's the only sane voice amid the madness

Many Hong Kong people despise Philippine President Benigno Aquino over the 2010 Manila hostage crisis. But by promising not to retaliate against Hong Kong's half-hearted and laughable sanctions against his country, he is behaving like the only adult in the room.

Philippine lawmakers are often portrayed in a bad light in the world media. But by refusing to heed the call of Congressman Winston Castelo to retaliate and giving their president a free hand to settle the matter, they have proved to be more reasonable and professional than those belligerent airheads in our own legislature.

Why should Aquino worsen a diplomatic spat that makes no sense in the first place, especially when he is already embroiled in a serious fight with China over maritime claims? Any sensible government should try to de-escalate it. Instead, the government of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, in a desperate attempt at populist politics, is needlessly politicising the incident.

The sanctions imposed - forcing a few hundred Philippine officials to get a visa to enter Hong Kong - are supposed to make a statement, but they are so limited as to scare no one yet provoke everyone in the wrong way.

Opportunistic politicians such as Albert Chan Wai-yip and Ray Chan Chi-chuen, both of People Power, who have been calling for sanctions, have squeezed every mileage out of this tragedy. What irony that our supposedly Beijing-stooge of a government is following the lead of the loudest and most irresponsible pan-democratic party. The sanctions must have Beijing's support, too.

Yes, as a community, Hong Kong and its government have every responsibility to help the families of the victims - in fighting for compensation, raising funds, perhaps even making their legal case in court. We should help them recover from their unimaginable trauma any way we can. But it's not our responsibility to ensnare the whole city in a diplomatic spat, a foreign affairs matter over which Leung's government may not even have proper legal authority.

Imagine the killings happened in Washington or Beijing where the taking of hostages by deranged individuals is not unknown. Do you think Barack Obama or Xi Jinping would apologise or even bother to negotiate?


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This article is now closed to comments

'The families deserve to be properly compensated'. Without the threat of sanctions, the Philippines Govt wasn't going to budge. So what else could the HK Govt do?
There is something important that you left out:
Hong Kong and the Phillipines had conducted parallel investigations and both had came to the same conclusion that the hostages were unlawfully killed. The Philippine concluded that criminal charges were warranted and should be filed against all those involved including the mayor of Manila that time, Alfredo Lim. It was Aquino himself who stepped in and suggested administrative charges instead of criminal charges be filed resulting in a slap on the wrist to all the idiots involved in the hostage negotiation and rescue. Had Aquino kept his mouth shut and let the court system decide the fate of those involved, this would had been over a long time ago but he dove in to save his long time ally, Afredo Lim. This sir is corruption at the highest level and denial of responsibility. This incident will forever go into history as a failure of EPIC PROPORTION. Anything less then a apology from the highest order can be seem as insufficient. Hong Kong has every right to a apology and sanctions should continue until everyone of these idiots realize the magnitude of what happened that day and the subsequent lies about a honest and transparent investigation was nothing more then a slap on the face to the people of Hong Kong.
The criminal charges would have failed, just as they would have failed in Hong Kong, which shares a Common Law legal system, because there was no mens rea - they were administratively inept, they were careless, they were negligent perhaps, but they were not setting out to kill the victims.
We don't know that do we?
Criminal charges never even got off the ground after the conclusion of the investigation because Aquino HIMSELF stepped in and suggested administrative charges instead of criminal charges. A REAL president will not decide the fate of the individuals involved that day, this should had been left up to the the legal court system to decide.
Hong Kong isn't blind, if a president can meddle in foreign affairs to save his allys then vice versa Hong kong can demand a apology from the top. Most people don't realize but Hong Kong has gone from over 200,000 OFWs in the late 00's to now 160,000 in just a matter of years. OFWs are being phased out in HK for other SE Asian country workers.
Mark my words, Aquino will apologize. If he couldn't find jobs for the 80,000 OFWs in Taiwan over the fisherman killing, he's NOT going to find jobs for the 160,000 OFWs in Hong Kong.
As a Filipino, I believe that our President should have apologized to the Hong Kong government for the mismanagement of the bus crisis resulting in 7 deaths and severely damaged lives for the survivors. If this event had occurred in France or the US or China, the Heads of State would have issued an apology as a diplomatic act, especially if larger issues were at stake. The reasons are two-fold: as you mention, the Philippines is already embroiled in a complicated territorial spat with China. Furthermore, the whole world witnessed that the country botched the hostage negotiations process resulting in needless deaths. Our President is not as sane as you portray him to be. He just accused Beijing of resembling Hitler and the Nazis in their approach to the dispute over the Spratleys, citing an episode in the 1938 attempts of Germany to seize Czechoslovakia. He was reading a pictorial history book (with many pictures) the night before he gave this interview to the New York Times and spouted some events that he read about - events wrapped around some historical photos, not considering the consequences of such a flippant comparison of unrelated historical events. Whilst your own government and leader have their own weaknesses, ours is tragically incapacitated - mentally, intellectually and politically.
Alex Lo, your take away and experience as a reporters I must question. First of all the HK tourists were innocent victims of a crime that occurred in the PI. How can you write an article removing the responsibility entirely from the group who perpetrated this orchestrated massacre on innocent people. No one is taking responsibility for the blame that is why Aquino being the alleged Statesmen he is to own up to the responsibility. In scandal of corporate entities, it's not the little accountant who takes the fall of the company. The CFO and CEO of the companies are also ensnared as they are the leaders and ultimate overseers of their company. Compensation for the family is long overdue and no doubt the PI government is liable and at the same time negligent of their actions that happened on that day. There is no refuting the evidence and amateur training that led to this incident. They could have received help from more experienced tactical group within the PI but declined. For common sense sakes, when a hostage taker asks to be reinstated as one of his condition, grant it to him. This could have been a totally different outcome. When you have the lives of people in your hands it's not time to get trigger happy or deploy villager like strategy. I really think Alex Lo you should rescind this article as you have infuriated readers. It's total bias and I get it, it's your take but this it's rubbish. Please take a responsible stand as a journalist.
RIGHT. That's what Presidents do. Ignore childish tantrums and immature saber-rattling.
Exactly that is what leaders should do just wish CY will soon realise
RIGHT. REAL Presidents don't step in and change criminal charges to administrative charges instead of letting the legal court system decides.
Actually that happens all the time and everywhere in the world ...even in HK




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