Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 3:11am

Stop talking, start giving


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 TVB’s Straight Talk 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.

Enough talk. Just do it. Tycoon Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land Development has babbled on for months about donating land to build affordable flats for young Hongkongers. Government officials have hesitated for fear the tycoon has self-serving schemes in mind. Such suspicion is warranted. Bill Gates our tycoons are not. Some are known more for their greed than for their giving. Hongkongers know our tycoons love their money too much to part with it like Gates or Warren Buffett. Their fortunes stay within the family. But wouldn't it be nice if they found it in their hearts to expand Lee's free land offer into a no-strings-attached land donation movement? They would erase the city's shame of subdivided flats and caged homes. They can't take their money with them but they could go with a clean conscience.


Hair today, still hair tomorrow

Tseung Kwan O residents so oppose a government proposal to extend the landfill in their district that some shaved off their hair in protest at a Legislative Council meeting. Presumably, the bald-headed protesters dumped all that hair as rubbish. And where did they expect the government to put their rubbish? The Tseung Kwan O landfill maybe? But that would be in their backyard, and they don't like that. We suggest the government dump it outside the front doors of the protesters with a sign that says "Landfill full". Or it could put the hair outside the doors of Legco members who blocked the landfill expansion.


Poll should ask hard questions on democracy

If a poll by the Research Association is to be believed, 54 per cent of respondents oppose Occupy Central for fear it would wreck the city's economy. What does that tell us? That Hongkongers value a stable economy over democracy? If so, it's strike one against the pan-democrats because it fits right into the claim of Chief Executive C.Y. Leung who insists people care more about livelihood issues than democracy. To even the score, the pan-democrats need to do a poll that asks this blunt question: do you care more about democracy or livelihood issues?


Raise your glass to cleaner bureaucracy

Those weekend pictures in the media of a tearful Timothy Tong Hin-ming didn't make Public Eye feel one bit sorry for him. Nor were we moved by the television images of his remorseful bow in Legco. The man deserves no pity. So many details have emerged of his squandering of public money while ICAC boss that people are no longer shocked, just aghast by his obnoxious extravagance. But Hong Kong must thank Tong. He did us a favour. He overdid his extravagance, but he is not alone in his lust for the high life at public expense. It permeates senior levels of our bureaucracy. Settling for Tong's public humiliation would be wasting the opportunity he has given us to cut our senior bureaucrats down to size. It is no exaggeration to say they are more adept at swirling their wine than serving the people. They are servants of the people but behave as if they are the bosses. The senior ones live in upscale homes, have chauffeured cars and education allowances for their children to study abroad, fly first class, and are the world's second best-paid bureaucrats. The reason given is that high pay wards off temptation. Are our senior officials so corruptible that we must buy them off with oversized salaries? It's time we asked if we're getting value for money. Our unaffordable housing, subdivided slum flats, rising poverty and filthy air tell us we are not. We need to clean house. Let's start by checking the wine stocks at every government department.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show



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