Mandarin Oriental sells out to mainland visitors
What? The Landmark Mandarin Oriental? Say it ain't so. But it is. And it's got former legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee irked. Public Eye is more than irked. It is one thing when a cha chaan teng switches its menu to simplified Chinese to lure mainland tourists, but quite another when the Landmark Mandarin Oriental does the same for its lift directory. What is it trying to say? That it will do anything for a buck? Traditional Chinese is part of Hong Kong's culture. Replacing it with simplified Chinese for profit motives is a sickening sell-out. Ng was so upset she wrote about it in a Chinese-language paper. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is owned by Jardine Matheson. This is the weak-kneed British "hong" that so feared Hong Kong's return to communist China it switched its domicile to Bermuda and additionally listed on the London Stock Exchange ahead of the handover. When Hong Kong continued to prosper, Jardines came crawling back while still domiciled in Bermuda. Now it has gone full circle, switching to the simplified Chinese used by the very people it so feared.
Democrats risk turning a win-win into a loss
Go, for goodness' sake. Can't the pan-democrats see there is everything to gain and nothing to lose by going but everything to lose by not going? The central government has taken a big step towards breaking the deadlock on political reforms with its invitation to all legislators to visit Shanghai this month. But pan-democrats responded to this extended hand with a clenched fist by imposing conditions. Some have now agreed to go, but the Democrats are still dawdling. Is it smart to spurn the invitation just because mainland officials have not openly met one of three conditions - a private meeting with them? All indications are the condition will be met. If they go and the private meeting does take place, they have gained by finally being able to talk turkey with Beijing. If they go and the meeting does not take place, they have gained by exposing Beijing as insincere. Don't go, and Beijing can expose them as being unwilling to talk.
MTR fare increase is a slap in the face for passengers
Just because you can does not mean you must. Is the MTR Corporation too thick-skulled or so blinded by greed that it does not understand that? Current economic indicators allow the railway to raise fares by 3.6 per cent under its fare adjustment deal with the government. But the keyword is "allow". Nothing in the deal says it must raise fares just because inflation allows it to. But it has done so in the past four years and has indicated it will again this year despite a bulging profit of HK$13 billion. The MTR was once the pride of Hong Kong. It is now a disgrace. Overpaid officials operate a service marked by jam-packed trains, delays and breakdowns. Being able to board the first train that arrives at a busy station is now the exception rather than the norm. But why should MTR bosses care? They have chauffeur-driven cars. Poor planning got us into this mess, but the shameless mess-makers still want a fare increase. The MTR motto? Fat profits, shareholders and salaries come first. Passengers come last.
Michael Chugani is a columnist and television show host. firstname.lastname@example.org