Public Eye

Torture scars are invisible on dark skin

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 4:04am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 4:04am

That's right, blame it on her dark skin. That is what immigration director Eric Chan Kwok-ki did when asked why his staff did not notice the horrific torture scars on Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih as she exited Hong Kong. Chan's lame excuse was that the officer had only a brief encounter with Erwiana during immigration clearance, had a hard time noticing the darker scars on her dark skin, thought she had a skin disease, and since she had not asked for help, let her go. We're speechless. Skin disease? A brief encounter? Aren't immigration officers trained to quickly spot abnormalities in people at checkpoints? Isn't that how they sniff out terrorists and drug traffickers? How safe are we if our officers cannot tell the difference between torture marks and a skin disease? The truth is our officers ask questions only when dark-skinned people arrive. They couldn't care less when they leave.


Better to stay silent and be thought a fool …

Three ministers have made remarks so stupid that you may finally understand why Public Eye always says our overpaid bureaucrats live in a different world. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung's remark was not just idiotic, it was offensive. When asked about Hongkongers having to wait for several MTR trains because of the crush of mainlanders, he said if they couldn't board one train, they could always wait for the next. Fine, let the people eat cake. But only if So surrenders his people-financed, chauffeur-driven car, and fights the crowds with the rest of us peasants. Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung boasted that government cooling measures had tamed the property market. What planet is he living on? Ask ordinary Hongkongers if they can afford to buy a home, Mr Cheung. Ask renters if landlords are still raising rents. The only thing the measures have done is dampen home sales. That is very different from having tamed prices. Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man boasted that the two-tin limit on baby milk powder had stabilised supplies. Maybe in la-la land it has, but here, some stores are still raising prices. The truth is that mainland demand is just too huge for local prices to stabilise. Only when mainlanders trust the safety of infant formula back home will supplies stabilise.


People in public flats shouldn't have maids

Firstly, Public Eye offers our condolences to the family of the Indonesian helper who fell to her death last week while cleaning the windows of her employer's 27th-floor flat. There have been too many such accidents. Cleaning windows in high-rise flats is a dangerous business. It is sickening that employers can force helpers to undertake such risks. If they want their windows cleaned, they should do it themselves or pay professionals. But there is something else we noticed about the tragedy. The maid was cleaning windows in a public-housing flat. Aren't such flats for low-income people? Surely it is preposterous you can qualify for public housing at taxpayers' expense, yet can afford a maid. Too many families are hanging on to their flats even though they have long surpassed the income level that made them eligible. This further prolongs the wait for genuinely needy families to get into public housing. But our government is too weak-kneed to throw out the cheats.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host.