• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:43pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 3:14pm

Dockers' strike is a struggle to restore the city's soul


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.

It's easy to mistake the dockers' strike as just that. But it's more than just industrial action for better pay and conditions. The strikers and their supporters consider it a struggle to restore the soul that Hong Kong has lost to the greed that permeates our society. Why do you think so many ordinary Hongkongers are cheering on the strikers with millions of dollars in cash and food donations? Would they be as pumped up if the strike had been against just any other company and not Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), which is controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing? Of course not. Once loved as a rags-to-riches superman, Li is now loathed by many Hongkongers. They see him and the other tycoons as having sold Hong Kong's soul to feed their greed. And that's what spawned the anti-tycoon term "property hegemony". And it's also why union leaders fronting the dockers' strike are purposely hurling out Li's name to pump up the people even though subcontractors, not Li's company, are directly responsible for pay and conditions. When union leaders reveal horror stories of crane operators having to work 12-hour shifts without even proper toilet breaks, and dock workers earning less now than a decade ago, the people get worked up. They are angry and aghast that a profitable Li-owned company could be so heartless. By cheering on the strikers they are venting their pent-up anger against what they see as an unfair society controlled by tycoons and the business lobby that has produced unaffordable housing, increasing poverty and the widest wealth gap in the developed world.


It's time for democrats to wake up to reality

Has Public Eye gone over to the dark side? Some say we've betrayed democracy. But let's get this straight: is it an act of betrayal to democracy to say it's idiotic for the democrats to make the right to confront the central government the cornerstone of their universal suffrage battle? We call it knocking some sense into the democrats. Must Public Eye say it over and over again? Mainland leaders will never allow anyone who opposes the central government by questioning the legitimacy of its communist rule to become the city's chief executive. Please wake up and smell that fact. Don't be suckered into a stalemate in the battle for credible universal suffrage starting in 2017. It would give Beijing the perfect reason to renege on its promise.


Market-cooling measures finally biting … just a bit

At last, we can smell blood. Just a whiff, but it's a start. Market-cooling measures are finally biting. Home sales are dropping; they fell nearly 30 per cent last month. But that's just sales, not prices. A drop in home sales is meaningless for those priced out of the market if it isn't matched with a drop in prices. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised to make housing affordable. The cooling measures were meant to put a brake on rising prices too, not just sales. Home prices are at preposterous levels. Some greedy home sellers, sensing they may have exhausted their greed, are cutting prices. Property developers also smell the change in the air. They're rushing their flats onto the market before the cooling measures bite hard. But prices need to come down a lot more. The greed that has contaminated our property market must be exorcised. Leung says he has the guts to confront the property developers. Well, then start smelling the blood and go for the kill. Impose cooling measures that actually force prices down. And slap rent controls on our vulture landlords. It's best to kick when the other side's down.



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This article is now closed to comments

Michael Chugani is right trying to knock some sense into the democratic camp. To have today a system in HK which allows to oppose the system and government in Beijing is wishful thinking and illusive.
Yes, there will be a christmas tree and there will be gifts under it, but please realise, there is no Santa Claus and there are no elves.
The democrats have to learn to be pragmatic. It brings us nowhere to insist that there is a Santa Claus. Doing so runs the high risk that there might be no gifts under the christmas tree.
HK born Michael Chugani has as much right to live here and comment on social and political events as anybody else. I hope he'll continue to knock some sense into these self proclaimed democrats who are merely rabble-rousers hell bent on preventing the HK Adminstration from governing and ending the one party rule in China. They think they are the only ones with the right to define what democracy is. And our disagreement with them would justify their right to destroy us. Such is the implied objective of the Occupy Centray campaign.
The Deomocratic camp must draw the line in the sand and stand up for the universal sufferage we have been promised. Its clear that nobody esle is going to defend that right, enshrined in the Basic Law.
However, the date when HK'ers will be ready for universal sufferage keeps getting pushed up - probably to the point when the Basic Law esentially runs out and then all rights disappear. Somebody has to be elected who will stand up for Hong Kong and the rights and needs of its citizens without regard for anybody else, incluidng the central government or their positions and policies.
We have to live here and we need somebody to speak for us, not fo for the tycoons and the CCP. I am convinced that future generations in China will be grateful that somebody protected Hong Kong's insitutions, rule of law and democratic development so that China had a starting point for which they could build on in the mainland. i would agree with Michael if it were still 2007, but now, its time to stand up.
hard times !
This Michael is just too wishful thinking to present his own views or demands on the flat prices in town which he worries and cares most.Our democratic political system's progress is never his cup of tea since it just doesn't concern him or his interests as an Indian who happens to live in this ethic Chinese society. Stay away from this muddled water,please.Mr.Chugami ! Our pursuit of democracy will never fade away and your cold water can have craved no effects at all to we Hongkongers who are yearning for a true demcracy in 2017 and nothing but a geniune universal suffrage.
hard times !
What this Michael Chugami really cares about is his affordability to buy a decent flat (maybe over 1000 sq.ft.for his family or just he himself only) so he keeps on demanding the Leung administration to launch measures to bring the flat prices down.How selfish and self-centred this old journalist is ! Shame on him and his words ! He just never has to care about our progress of democratic political system as it is indeed none of his business----being an Indian Hong Kong resident here.Hong Kong people's future and their next generation's well-being have nothing to do with him !
abby & tammy / x - men or whatever you are calling yourself today. It doesn't sound like you understand democracy at all. Michael is free to express his opinion. Same goes for you. That is what democracy is all about!


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