Public Eye

Do we have to wait until the bird flu virus arrives?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 3:55am

What's with this obsession about eating fresh chicken? The obsession is such that Health Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man daren't shut down wet markets with live chickens for fear that consumers and traders will go after his scalp. Mainlanders are dying from bird flu, for goodness sake. But Ko says we get our poultry from southern China, which has so far escaped the latest killer flu. And he assures us the chickens are checked at entry points. So what's he saying? That he'll keep his arms folded until the killer flu strikes us? Isn't that shutting the coop door after the chicken has flown? It's just a matter of time before the outbreak scaring the hell out of people in eastern China reaches us. And no one can guarantee that the virus won't mutate to spread from human to human. Some experts are already saying we can't rule that out. And a Beijing boy now has the virus without symptoms. That's scary because we can't tell who are carriers. About one million mainlanders will head our way for the May 1 Labour Day golden week holiday. Some could be incubating the virus. We can't shut our doors but we can stay ahead of the curve. For starters, we can shut our coop door. The markets are a time bomb. Ban them now.


Time to remove the painful peg to US dollar

Public Eye is not an economist but we need to ask this: now that the Hong Kong dollar link to the US greenback is so loaded with baggage isn't it time policy-makers shook off the bogeyman and started wondering if the peg is still in our best interests? Former Monetary Authority boss Joseph Yam Chi-kwong did wonder some months ago but was clobbered into silence by critics still thinking inside the box. The yuan is at a record high against the greenback. That, of course, means the Hong Kong dollar has slumped even further against the yuan because of the peg's baggage. It wasn't that long ago when HK$1 equalled one yuan, but now we must pay over HK$1.20. We buy much of our daily needs from the mainland. Struggling Hong Kong families, whose incomes have stagnated over the years, must dig ever deeper into their pockets to survive. The link is hurting ordinary Hongkongers. How much longer must we be chained to it? Hong Kong pegged to the greenback in the 1980s at the height of the handover confidence crisis. But where's the confidence crisis now? We always compare ourselves to Singapore and boast about how we're better. Yet the Singapore currency is strengthening by leaps and bounds without a greenback link. Surely, it's time to wonder what we are doing wrong. Or is the foundation that props us up as a major financial centre just a post-handover mirage that we are too scared to tamper with?


Forget it, supermarkets do not have a heart

So why is everyone aghast at the Consumer Council's findings that our supermarkets have increased prices way above the inflation rate? Haven't we been telling you time and again that our supermarket chains are greedy profiteers? The government has ignored fake sales and price-gouging for years. The council wants the supermarkets to have a heart for the sake of struggling Hongkongers? Forget it, they have no heart.