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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:16pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 3:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 4:16am

Abusing both democracy and the elderly poor


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.

Hong Kong is ready for democracy, you say? Go tell that to the 400,000 impoverished senior citizens who struggle daily to survive. Democracy has derailed immediate government relief for them, while grandstanding politicians use them as pawns. You could argue the deadlock we are now seeing between the government and some legislators over the terms of a monthly HK$2,200 handout is democracy in action. But you would be wrong. It is an abuse of democracy. If our political leaders really understood democracy, they would have no trouble finding a compromise that puts the interests of the elderly poor above their own. How hard is it for dissenting legislators to de-link the larger issue of a universal pension from the HK$2,200 handout so the elderly poor can get immediate relief? How hard is it for officials to guarantee genuine consideration for a pension plan in return for the HK$2,200 handout going only to those in genuine need and not to all senior citizens, as some legislators insist? If we cannot even compromise on something as simple as this, how can we possibly be ready for democracy, which can only function effectively through compromise?


Government is failing in fight against racism

Now Public Eye understands why the government exempted itself from Hong Kong’s already toothless anti-racist laws. Exemption allows it to freely practise racism. It is doing just that in deciding who can and cannot become naturalised as Hong Kong Chinese nationals. Tell us it’s not racism when a local-born Pakistani girl,  legally adopted by Hong Kong Chinese parents as a baby,  holding  a permanent Hong Kong identity card and a mainland home return permit,  is denied Chinese nationality while Westerners with fewer local links are granted that status. Businessman Allan Zeman, former government official Mike Rowse and politician Paul Zimmerman have all been naturalised. The government even sped up Zimmerman’s application for his possible run in September’s Legco election. Yet we  see case after case of ethnic minorities with close links to Hong Kong being rejected. What makes the case of the adopted Maggie Cheung more outrageous is that even mainland China  recognised her Chinese nationality by giving her a home return permit. She is finally on her way to naturalisation only after media inquiries. When the equal opportunities commissioner, Lam Woon-kwong, became the Executive Council convenor, he promised that his crusade against racism would take priority over his role as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s top adviser. We are still waiting for him to unsheathe his sword. Lam has said the government was wrong to exempt itself from the anti-racism law. He has implicitly admitted  the law gives him  little power to fight racism. But that does not mean he cannot shout out loud that our government is racist. As Exco convenor he has the ear of Leung. So why doesn’t he say something? When Leung was elected, he said he would be the chief executive of all Hongkongers. Tell that to Maggie Cheung. See if she will believe it.


Why is no one worrying about the seasons?

What’s happened to our seasons? It’s late November but autumn is still struggling to arrive. Are we doomed to have year-round long, hot summers? Public Eye grew up in Hong Kong but it was never like this back then. Late November was comfortably cold, definitely not T-shirt weather. Climate change has already got a foot inside the door of planet Earth but our world leaders aren’t giving a damn.  Israelis and Palestinians are busy killing each other, China and Japan are sabre-rattling over a tiny bunch of uninhabited islands and American politicians are more concerned about the sex life of the country’s spy chief. Doesn’t anyone realise nothing else poses a bigger threat to humankind than climate change? Please Scotty, beam Public Eye out of here.


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This article is now closed to comments

I think it is not the problem of race but the difference between the rich and poor. I am not saying Maggie Cheung or her family poor or rich but what was cited as the successful applications by the writer in his article are made by those rich in terms of wealth or social status. So it is not surprised that there is different treatment between poor and rich. Should you remember what Ms Yu of Civic party commented a "Assaulting Police Officer" case, we will not surprise any more. No matter the defendant is a rich person or the relative of a foreign justice, he or she would be treating in a different way. Do we think that it is a kind of race abusive.
Either HK is not ready for "democracy", or "democracy" is not suitable for HK. Should the government officials take the blame of not doing their jobs properly? - May be. Our honorary elected legislators have to authorities to blame every problems to the government, and obstructing the administration of the government without taking any responsibilities. Our voters, believed that it is their right to vote and it is "democracy" which is the only future for HK, elected those legislators of extremely low quality. Should our voters be responsible too? Or, something wrong with "democracy". Don't tell me that it is not "democracy" because it is bad.
Law makers in HK are just a group of kids interested in arguing for arguing. They forgot many Hk problems such as shameful coffin homes etc...plus they are only interested to get vote!
This is why I am suspicious of democracy, self-interests masquerading in a surplice.
Indeed, this was a good column.
Labor market/ department, HK courts, immigration, hospitals, the biggest discriminator HK police, HK banks,what you can name full full of discrimination towards ethnic minorities.Discrimination is in most HK Chinese blood.
Look at police. My husband (Punjab origin) and I got argument HK police (so called Asia’s finest) came and immediately hand cuff my husband without asking what had happen. Hand cuffs him that way my husband was yelling by pain. Abuse bad words to my husband, push him, terrorize him just upon arriving without know the detail facts.
And then started to teach me how to tell lies in the statement. Also keep writing untruth thing in so called my statement. When I ask why they doing this I was told by officers we have to protect our own (by their meaning Chinese) people. It was shocking to me.is this HK? Cross border I have not seen such darkness. Unless you crumble with them for ideology.
My husband sue a furniture company in small claim tribunal in wan chai court staff was very aggressive towards my husband since he request for a Punjabi interpreter. At some occasions angry at him why he is not talking Cantonese.Teaching very briefly to the Chinese defendant how she can OVER COME my husband’s claim it was look like court staff was defendant’s personal lawyers.
If judiciary or tst police station have any opposition to my comments here I will disclose case numbers here any one is welcome to contact me.
Its small thing called HKGOV discriminating non-Chinese
John Adams
Michael, sometimes you really hit the nail dead on the head
Today you hit three nails, all very dead hard on the head . Many thanks
I hope some people in govt read what you wrote today , wake up, and DO SOMETHING


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