Public Eye does freelance work for ATV, which makes it a conflict of interest for us to say much about the government's decision to deny Ricky Wong Wai-kay a free-to-air television licence. We won't go into the rights and wrongs of the decision, but one aspect of the controversy really baffles us. Why hasn't there been an angry outcry over Wong's claim that a top government official from the previous administration had invited him to apply for a licence? Wong insisted he received more than just a simple invitation, which suggests he was promised a licence. Does anyone in the government have the authority to do that? No, not even the chief executive. Public Eye was waiting for the pan-democrats to unleash claims of collusion between the government and businessmen. Isn't that what they did when the government asked tycoon Richard Li Tzar-kai to build Cyberport? Isn't that what they did when former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen rode on the private planes and yachts of tycoons? Didn't they rush to the Independent Commission Against Corruption to file complaints? We now have claims of a top government official inviting a businessman to apply for a licence with a tacit understanding that it would be granted. That bypasses government procedure, which requires an application to undergo a rigorous stress test before reaching the Executive Council for the final decision. Shouldn't that trigger questions like: On whose authority did the official approach Wong? Did the official promise him a licence? Doesn't that breach established procedures? Did the official issue invitations to Cable TV and Now TV, the other two applicants? If not, why only Wong? Shouldn't that raise alarm bells in a city which prides itself on the rule of law? But all we've heard from the pan-democrats is resounding silence. Not just that, some pan-democrats have actually berated the government for denying Wong a licence after inviting him to apply for one. Ah well, no one ever said hypocrisy wasn't a part of democracy.
So, is this decision a political matter or not?
The politicians accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of denying Ricky Wong a licence for political reasons. When Leung insisted politics played no part, pan-democratic legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan didn't buy it. She said the process of issuing television licences was in itself political because licence holders wielded huge political power. So, it's wrong to make politics a factor in issuing licences, but if you deny doing so, you're lying, because, by its very nature, the issuing of licences is political. There you have the muddled minds of our politicians.
You're not a nation of servants, Myanmar
Don't even think about it - that's Public Eye's advice to the people of Myanmar. Some politicians are lobbying Myanmar to send us maids to replace Filipino ones to punish the Philippines for the Manila hostage tragedy. They want Myanmar to become our next "source of supply". That's how they put it on radio recently, as if they're talking about beans rather than human beings. Public Eye urges the Myanmar government to tell them to shove off. Aung San Suu Kyi didn't fight so long and hard for freedom to make her country a nation that exports toilet cleaners. Coming here as maids means becoming second-class citizens who must jump when ordered. Sure, they can earn more as maids here than doing other jobs back home. But our advice is: short-term pain for long-term gain. Stay and fight to make your country economically stronger. Don't turn it into a nation of servants.
Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. firstname.lastname@example.org