'My persistent efforts brought to fruition of the announcement of ten mega infrastructure projects as announced in the 2007 Policy Address ... 'From October 2007 to early May 2008, Public Works Subcommitee (PWSC), of which I am chairman, has already approved a total of 55 projects totalling HK$34 billion. Also, altogether 99 proposals totalling HK$26 billion were approved in Legco year 2006-2007 by PWSC. This broke a record! ... 'Engineers in both private and public sectors surely benefited from the launch of more public works projects by the government.' Raymond's Personal Express (newsletter) Legislator Raymond Ho Chung-tai Engineering functional constituency Pardon me if I have a sudden itch to find one of those up-themselves colonial officials out of London who pushed the idea of functional constituencies so hard years ago. I would grab him by the collar and rub his nose in a copy of Raymond's Personal Express. 'There, look at what you've done!' I would tell him. 'You thought you were really clever, didn't you, improving democracy by formally bringing expertise from all sectors of society into Legco. 'But all that you actually did was cobble together the biggest pork-barrel of any political system in the world. You turned government directly over to the lobbyists, that's what you did.' And if the fellow wanted to protest, I would hold a box a tissue paper in front of him and say: 'Well, if it doesn't stink, you won't really need any of this for your nose, will you?' I am astounded that the government of a town that calls itself Asia's World City and prides itself on being well up the ranks of developed economies could allow Raymond Ho to continue as chairman of the public works sub-committee for even a minute after publishing his latest issue of Raymond's Personal Express. The man has declared in public through his newsletter that the reason he pushes infrastructure projects is to generate contracts and employment for his 7,700 constituents. He makes no mention of whether Hong Kong actually needs these works. In fact he makes no attempt at all to hide or disguise his blatant vote-buying. This is a howling conflict of interest for the chairman of a key committee that advises Legco on public works programmes. It's the sort of thing that makes a mockery of this talk of Asia's World City. We have the best legislators that money can buy, hah-hah-hah. It is inevitable, of course, with functional constituencies. Mr Ho was naturally going to push for chairmanship of that committee. He reports to his constituents and that was where they wanted him. The problem doesn't lie just with Mr Ho but with the whole daft idea of functional constituencies. They institutionalise corruption. Even then, you would have thought that a heavily compromised Legco would have taken steps to prevent the worst conflicts of interest to which the system is prone. It didn't. Raymond Ho got the job and now takes pride in extracting huge amounts of money out of all our pockets to serve a bare one thousandth of our number. And don't let him try to tell you, pointing out that the ratio of public-works spending to gross domestic product is at a historic low, that actually we under spend on infrastructure. For developed economies, spending is naturally low. As the chart shows, we're in line with countries like Britain and Germany. High ratios of public works spending are appropriate only to developing countries that still need to build up their roadways, power facilities, waterworks and amenities. That's why Thailand is still up there on the chart. We in Hong Kong, however, have already built our infrastructure networks. All that anyone can suggest now are superfluous roads, tunnels and bridges that no-one really wants, trains that travel faster than anyone needs and new towns that promise to turn into instant Tin Shui Wai-style slums. Yet public works spending this fiscal year is budgeted to double over last year's level and stay high for the next four years at least, although the government has not a cent to spare for old age fruit money. That's the price we pay for having inflicted functional constituencies on ourselves and given the keys to the vault to pork-barrel politicos like Raymond Ho. This was all apparent earlier, of course, but just now I find it difficult to get over the raw blatant way that he declares it in public. Has the man no sense of shame?