Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 4:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 4:34am

Splashing cash on all that jazz but none for the elderly

BIO

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.
 

Splashing cash on all that jazz but none for the elderly

Don't any of you dare badmouth Hong Kong. We're a wonderful city where money's no barrier when it comes to serving the people. Our bureaucrats - among the highest-paid in the world - know how to put the people's money to good use. Soon we'll have a swanky high-speed railway to Guangzhou costing HK$71.5 billion. So what if this is well over its original HK$67 billion price tag? Trains will hurtle you to the motherland from a glitzy new West Kowloon Cultural District costing about HK$47 billion. No big deal that this is twice its original HK$21.6 billion price tag. If you want to get to the motherland even faster, plans are afoot for a new runway intended mostly to boost our airport capacity for all those mainland visitors. The price tag? Some estimate HK$200 billion, well up from the original cost, but what the heck, we can afford it. That means we can afford a universal pension plan for struggling old folks too, right, since it costs far less? Don't be greedy. You can't have everything. Our bureaucrats have already worked overtime to make sure all those elderly people who collect discarded cardboard boxes for a living have a nice cultural hub to go to after work. If they collect more boxes, they can even afford to whiz to Guangzhou on shiny new trains. What more do you want?

 

Smear campaign or not, we have the right to know

A state-driven smear campaign - that's what legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching calls media revelations of Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai Chee-ying's huge donations to pan-democrats. By state, Public Eye presumes she means the central government. So, is she saying the media should have ignored the hundreds of emails detailing Lai's donations to pan-democrats because she believes it's a smear campaign? Is that not called self-censorship, something that Mo and other so-called pan-democrats regularly accuse local media of doing? Is she now saying the public should forgo its right to know because it is a state-driven smear campaign? Let's get one thing straight - the public has every right to know whether the pan-democratic camp leaders and political parties are in the pocket of Lai. This right supersedes any questions about where the information came from. Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Martin Lee Chu-ming, and legislators "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Lee Cheuk-yan and Alan Leong Kah-kit have all confirmed receiving fat cheques from Lai. Mo denies getting HK$500,000, but Lai did not deny giving it to her when asked in a radio interview. The emails of his aide, Mark Simon, listed Mo as a recipient. He said his email account was hacked, but did not deny the authenticity of the messages leaked to the media. The public's right to know cannot be diminished just because Mo claims - without proof - that the revelations are a state-orchestrated smear campaign.

 

Look who's wasting our public money now

How much do legislators earn for throwing bananas at officials, asking inane questions and using filibusters to paralyse the Legislative Council? HK$87,450 a month. And perks? HK$191,610 a year in entertainment and travelling expenses; office expenses of HK$2.24 million; and medical expenses of HK$30,450. Any bonus? Yes, 15 per cent of pay earned during their term as legislators. That's about HK$630,000 for those serving one term of four years. And Legco records now show these overpaid clowns who slam others for wasting public money have been maxing out their expense accounts without even providing receipts.

 

Michael Chugani is a columnist and television show host. mickchug@gmail.com

 

Share

 

Send to a friend

To forward this article using your default email client (e.g. Outlook), click here.

Enter multiple addresses separated by commas(,)

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive