Public Eye

Travel alert system permeated by politics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 4:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:04am

Bullets flying through the air, killing and maiming. Mobs running amok, storming government buildings. Tens of thousands of violent protesters demanding the overthrow of the country's democratically elected prime minister. And how does our government respond to this bloodshed? It issues a red travel warning for Bangkok. That means Hongkongers should avoid non-essential travel to the riot-torn city. Bullets do not fly through the air, killing or maiming. There are no mobs trying to overthrow the country's president. Life is normal except for a typhoon-ravaged area where citizens are still trying to recover. And how does our government respond to this calm? It keeps in place a black travel warning to the Philippines. That means it is such a dangerous place that Hongkongers should avoid all travel there. What makes the whole of the Philippines more dangerous than the mob rule we are seeing in Bangkok? Three years ago, a deranged former policeman with a grudge against the Philippine government randomly hijacked a tour bus in Manila and killed eight Hongkongers. Our government reckons that random act by a lone lunatic makes the Philippines far more dangerous than the organised act of a massive mob using violence to overthrow the Thai government. Let's not pretend any more that the travel alert is meant solely to warn Hongkongers of genuine danger. The alert system stinks of politics.


Will CY go through with Philippines sanctions?

Hey people, surely you haven't forgotten what day it is today: It is ultimatum deadline day. Exactly 30 days ago, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave the Philippines one month to kowtow for the Manila hostage tragedy or face unspecified trade sanctions. Did anyone see Philippine President Benigno Aquino kowtow? If there was a kowtow, Public Eye must have missed it. Leung had told the Philippines to make "substantial progress" in meeting Hong Kong's four demands: a presidential apology, compensation for the victims, a guarantee that Hongkongers will never again be killed in the Philippines, and punishment for the botched-up rescue of hostages. How do you define "substantial progress"? We haven't a clue. Has substantial progress been made to avert sanctions? No clue. Was Leung being less than statesmanlike to have talked big about sanctions just to appease those who demanded a pound of flesh? You bet. But now that he has talked the talk, let's see if he will walk the walk today.


Li Ka-shing versus CY Leung: whose side are you on?

Is there really bad blood between the city's two most powerful men, as most people believe? Tycoon Li Ka-shing and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying are not saying - at least publicly. But there is only one way to read Li's warning last week against "rule by man" and the erosion of core values such as our free market. His cryptic comment was clearly a snipe at Leung. That snipe laid bare the battle between the old order and the new that is now being fought - Li's big markets, small government versus Leung's populist policies. Whose side are you on? We can have a hands-off government that keeps its nose out of the market even if homes become too unaffordable, the poverty rate spirals, and the huge mainland demand makes baby milk powder unavailable for local parents. Or we can have a populist leader who meddles in the market to cool property prices, increases aid for the needy and imposes a two-tin limit on milk formula. It's time for us to choose.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host.