Say goodbye to Lion Rock, hello to Money Mountain
Price-gouging fishball sellers, passengers occupying a cruise ship to extort compensation for a missed port call, cabbies driving off with the luggage of tourists, and mainland visitors demanding over-the-top payouts for even the slightest inconvenience. Forget about the "Lion Rock spirit" our leaders so want us to revive. Greed is the new spirit of Hong Kong.
The "golden age" of Hongkongers struggling to succeed and make an honest living, as epitomised in the television series Below the Lion Rock, is long gone. Our new golden age is epitomised by the Mong Kok fishball vendor who demands an extra HK$3 for the carton. Public Eye witnessed such greed when we took mainland friends to Mong Kok.
In Causeway Bay, a tiny cha chaan teng demanded a minimum spend of HK$30 per person. And in Stanley Market, the mainland shopkeeper told our mainland friend to get out if she did not want to buy the overpriced sunglasses she was trying on. Well, if our richest tycoons are in the business of greed, why not the little guy? Greed trickles down from the top - from the tycoons to the landlords to the supermarket chains to the camera shops scamming mainland tourists to crooked taxi drivers to the mainlanders themselves who demand compensation for everything to passengers who occupy cruise ships to price-gouging fishball sellers.
Let's ditch the old Lion Rock symbol. Our new symbol should be a mountain of money, with everyone clamouring to climb it.
'Helping the needy', Tsang? I squander what you mean?
How does giving HK$6,000 to tycoon Li Ka-shing, rates waivers for homeowners on The Peak, and electricity subsidies to fat-cat households help them through "difficult times"? But helping people through difficult times is the reason Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is now giving for his massive squandering of public money. He has blown more than HK$200 billion on budget handouts since becoming finance chief. Sure, help the needy. But giving HK$6,000 to every adult, even tycoons? Giving rates waivers to owners of even the world's priciest homes? And free electricity to households with multimillion-dollar incomes? Now he warns we are running out of money. He says handouts must end since the difficult times are practically gone anyway. If he had not squandered billions on the rich, we would not be running out of money quite so fast. And for the record, helping people through difficult times was never the reason he gave before for his squandering. Returning wealth to the people - even to wealthy people - from the huge budget surpluses was the reason.
Loo-nacy of hypocrites who say 'hands off our helpers'
Hands off our toilet cleaners. That is the message from some who want tougher sanctions in retaliation against Philippine President Benigno Aquino for refusing to kowtow for the Manila hostage tragedy. Everything is on the table - banning Filipino tourists, blocking imports, even turning up diplomatic heat through Beijing. But hands off the domestic helpers. How sick is that? If Hongkongers feel so strongly, they should knee Aquino where it hurts - ban the helpers. Their unwillingness to do so shows them to be hypocrites who care more for clean toilets than dead hostages.
Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. firstname.lastname@example.org