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Typhoon Mangkhut

Mangkhut travel chaos: what happens when powerless Hong Kong chief executive meets a powerful typhoon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2018, 6:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2018, 6:00am

I refer to Alex Lo’s take on the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut (“Travel after Hong Kong typhoon a work in progress”, September 18). First, he makes an irrelevant point about how reporters have it hard during news events and have to show up – to report the news. Much like how a firefighter must go to work when there’s a fire, it is part of Mr Lo’s job to be available when news occurs. On the other hand, the typical Mong Kok salesperson never signed up to be put in harm’s way to make a living.

Second, Mr Lo says he’s not sure it is the government’s job to make a decision on whether people will go to work. In a case of an emergency, which was obviously the case here, of course it is! Shenzhen’s did. There’s a good reason for that too: the government’s emergency response team has a central view of the situation and of risks to the population. For a territory-wide catastrophic event such as a typhoon, it makes no sense for employers to gather all that information on their own, then decide whether their employees are at risk. It is neither effective nor efficient, and generates even more chaos, as we saw last Monday.

The bottom line, obvious to all, is that Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has abdicated her responsibility as a chief executive in this matter. At the very minimum, she should have issued a statement on Sunday night to the effect that the government was expecting delays in public transport. Or, better yet, the government could have recommended that employees stay safe at home.

Instead, Lam proved her incompetence by defending her inaction a posteriori and stating she had no means of action. It is quite revealing that she believes herself to be powerless to give Hong Kong a breather after its most powerful typhoon on record.

J.C. Clement, Jordan