SCMP ; January 5, 2003 By Chris Yeung The Chief Executive's wife, Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping, was visibly upset when she joined a group of volunteers to clean up rubbish around the Cultural Centre on New Year's Day. Referring to the behaviour of revellers over Christmas and on New Year's Eve, she told the young volunteers: 'My friends called me and asked me ? why do our young people do that? You asked me. Whom should I ask? 'What Hong Kong people do best is complain, complain, complain. I'm very upset,' she said. Without elaborating further, Mrs Tung was apparently referring to the spread of a culture of complaint since the 1997 handover. People from different walks of life complain that an impotent government has led to a sharp deterioration in living standards. They blame officials for failing to revise housing policies and most are frustrated about a series of policy blunders and the mishandling of crises by civil servants. They blame legislators for doing nothing. And they are far from happy with the media, which they believe is a powerful tool controlled by money-minded tycoons. Politicians, meanwhile, say the political system is to blame for their inability to exercise meaningful checks and balances on the government. And business people complain of what they call the excessive politicisation of society. Many influential tycoons also decided to jump on the bandwagon, and complain about a host of issues, ranging from housing policies to electricity tariffs. Once hailed as the greatest asset of Hong Kong, civil servants were rocked by the drastic political and socio-economic changes after the handover. They moaned about the lack of a fair and objective assessment of their performance and pay. The list of complaints goes on. More remarkably, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has complained that he was a victim of colonial rule. Some of the most difficult problems he has had to tackle - such as a bubble economy and a crisis in education - originated in the pre-handover period. Both Mr Tung and some of his senior aides grumble that politicians only complain, but they have failed to come up with satisfactory policies. They blame the media for failing to inform the public accurately and objectively about government policies. The fact that there are as many complaints by government officials as there are complaints about the administration suggests a culture of complaining is perhaps natural and healthy in a free and pluralistic society. Amid the complaints, it still rings true that Hong Kong matters a lot to many people who live here. * Chris Yeung is the Post's Editor-at-Large. To read his column, see the news section of the SCMP. Glossary visibly (adv) capable of being seen. We may also use other words such as apparently and noticeably, which share the same meaning. elaborate (v) to work out details impotent (adj) weak and incapable. Its antonym is ominpotent. blunder (n) a mistake tycoon (n) a wealthy and powerful person jump on the bandwagon (idiom) to start doing something because many other people are doing it Example: Her shop is the latest retailer to jump on the bandwagon, and is preparing to launch a customer loyalty programme next year. (SCMP ; November 30, 2002) rock (v) to upset ring true (v) to appear to be true Discussion points ? Do you or your classmates complain a lot? ? What upsets you? What do your classmates complain about? ? What could you do to help them to whine less? ? Do you find Hong Kong is full of complaints? Elaborate your view. ? Even if there is a culture of complaint, do we need to change it? Give your reasons.