PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 3:39am

Kudos to judge for standing up to greedy developer

BIO

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 ATV’s Newsline 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.
 

Let's applaud the gutsy Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes. He told a big-time developer to shove off. The Hysan Group wanted to build soaring new towers on 10 sites in already congested Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. It didn't care that the buildings would further ruin airflow, worsen our terrible air pollution and eat up pedestrian space. It cared only about squeezing as much money as it could from the projects. Greed knows no boundaries with our developers. Thankfully, the Town Planning Board gave Hysan the finger by imposing height restrictions. Hysan sued with the ludicrous argument that restrictions would violate its constitutional right to maximise profits. Reyes threw out the case, ruling that the Basic Law in no way guarantees that developers can override the public interest for profit. If you want more proof that our developers put profits above people, this surely is it. Hysan is even planning to appeal. If you want to understand why the radicals triumphed in the Legislative Council elections, Hysan's case is a classic example. A handful of developers control our lives. Two big chains control the supermarket business, acting like a duopoly to squeeze the people. The two chains also have a duopoly in the city's pharmacy business. Tycoons own our two power companies, which have government-guaranteed profits and a monopoly in the areas they serve. What do you do when you get fed up with all this greed and injustice? You vote for the radicals.

Time to stop turning blind eye to smuggling hordes

Don't say we didn't tell you. Public Eye has warned over and over that letting uncontrolled swarms of mainlanders into our tiny city translates into a time bomb. The angry flare-ups between Hongkongers and mainlanders at Sheung Shui over the weekend were just part of the bomb exploding. The big bang will surely come unless the government acts decisively to defuse the rage. It is preposterous that thousands of mainlanders can cross the border several times a day to openly smuggle back Hong Kong goods, jamming trains and ruining the Sheung Shui border town. Hong Kong agreed with the mainland to open our doors to genuine tourists, not illegal traders who drive up inflation by stripping shops of goods, creating shortages for locals. Why has this gone on for so long?

Are we really ready to say goodbye to Hello Kitty?

Boycott Japanese goods. That was the cry last Sunday as Hongkongers - like their mainland counterparts - vented rage at Japan's buying of the Diaoyus. But the big question is: can Hongkongers give up sushi? Can they end their love affair with all things Japanese? Can they sacrifice skiing holidays in Sapporo, give up their Sonys and trade in their Toyotas? Or does the nationalist fire fade in deference to material temptations?

Ban on idling vehicles nothing more than a farce

Throw out the idling-engine ban. Why waste public money on manpower to enforce a joke? The ban's only function is to serve as a reminder of how impotent our leaders are. The ban exempts cabbies at taxi stands. Public Eye saw at least eight taxis idling at the front of the Pedder Street stand during rush hour one evening last week, refusing to pick up passengers without first negotiating the fare and destination. Not only were the drivers polluting, they were also breaking the law. Does the exemption still protect them?

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