Public Eye: Bureaucrats eat another slice of heritage
22 July 2009
South China Morning Post

Public Eye would like to tell you a dirty little secret. You've been duped by our overpaid bureaucrats. Well OK, that's not really a secret. They do it all the time. Our bureaucrats think governing the people means duping them. But we're talking about one particular dirty little secret. Our bureaucrats say the public wants them to replace the historic Kowloon Star Ferry bus terminus with a pseudo-piazza. That's actually a lie. It's the government's Tourism Commission that wants to destroy history, not the people.

Our inquiries show it's the commission that's been colluding with the tourism trade to obliterate the landmark. This is the same commission that wrecked the nearby historic Marine Police headquarters. It sold the heritage site to the highest bidder, who is turning it into a pricey boutique hotel. We're quite sure your ageing aunt who lives in a Tin Shui Wai public housing estate won't be going there to soak in Hong Kong's heritage.

Public Eye's inquiries show the commission's plan to pulverise the bus terminus was quietly inserted into a 2004 public consultation for the whole of Tsim Sha Tsui. All those who responded to the Tsim Sha Tsui overhaul opposed demolishing the terminus. But the government wouldn't budge. Its report made repeated reference to the commission championing replacing the terminus with a piazza. Opponents were told the commission had done its own consultation. Who did they consult? Were you consulted? We certainly weren't. And so the bureaucrats will have their way again. They know what's best for us. And what's best for us is killing yet another slice of Hong Kong's history.

It's freedom, French style

When is wearing a burqa repulsive? When Muslim women are forced to wear them. When is a burqa not repulsive? When women, Muslim or not, freely choose to wear the hideously medieval garment that hides them from head to toe. The buzzwords here are free and choice.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy should know what they mean. Didn't he preach to the Chinese about free choice in Tibet? Didn't he even threaten to boycott the Beijing Olympics over Tibet? Well, it turns out the man is a phoney crusader for free choice. But Public Eye has told you that before. He's babbling again, not in defence of free choice but against it. He wants to ban Muslim women in France from wearing the burqa, even if they freely choose to. He says those who want to live in his country must dress like us. This from someone who lectures others about democracy.

We presume if it's OK for France to ban the burqa he wouldn't mind if Chinese leaders banned monks in Tibet from wearing their religious robes. Or if Arab leaders ordered all French nationals living in the region to dress like them by wearing turbans and growing beards.

Will Anointed One be a victim of democracy?

Can the Anointed One become the Elected One? Public Eye is talking about our next chief executive. It's still three years away but the lobbying has already started. People are saying Henry Tang Ying-yen will be the anointed one. Only Beijing knows for sure: it is the anointer. But only for one last time. It has promised to let Hong Kong people choose starting in 2017. That's when it gets tricky, for the anointer and the anointed leader. Our chief executives are allowed two five-year terms. That means Mr Tang, if he is really the anointed one, gets to be anointed only once, unlike his predecessors. After his anointment in 2012 he needs to get elected in 2017 if he wants another term. The people will be calling the shots. Will they take kindly to an anointed incumbent? Or will they exact revenge? If they throw him out, won't that embarrass Beijing? If they don't, will he still act like the anointed one by being Beijing's man in Hong Kong? Or will he dare become Hong Kong's man in dealings with Beijing? So many questions.

By Michael Chugani

(上次更新: 2009-07-22)

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