Long Hot Summer

As might have been expect in the run-up to the Legislative Council Elections on 9 September, the political heat has been turned up high all through July and August. Attacks on new Chief Executive C Y Leung and his Ministers have continued and major issues have been given a good airing.

Deepest in the doo doo has been the new Secretary for Development Paul Chan. Both he - a long time ago - and his wife - up until very recently - have been shown to have a beneficial interest in a company owning flats that had been subdivided. Families have rented these ultra small living spaces for a rental which on a per square foot basis would make a mid-Levels landlord envious.

The point here is not that it is immoral to let out such small units (though most ordinary people would surely experience pangs of conscience) but that the process of subdivision often involves illegal alterations, and that a big part of Mr Chan's new responsibilities are to clamp down in this area. So we have been treated to the remarkable spectacle of a Government Minister in effect taking enforcement action against his own wife.

Next hot topic to dominate the headlines has been National Education which saw new Education supremo Eddie Ng caught in the cross hairs. From one perspective this criticism has been very unfair. After all, the decision to have such education on a compulsory basis, the preparation of guidelines on how schools should teach it, the subsidising with public funds of a "Private" company to prepare teaching materials which turned out to be a hymn of praise to the Communist Party, all of these things were done under the previous administration.

But Mr Ng went on television to claim that because only 90,000 people participated in a protest march against what they saw as "brain washing" that meant the silent majority were in support. Good luck with that one Eddie.

Attempts to cool the red hot housing market have inevitably been labelled too little too late, and a new scheme to facilitate Shenzhen residents coming to Hong Kong - which on another day might have been welcomed as a boost to tourism and local jobs - has been criticised as unleashing a tsunami of visitors that will swamp our infrastructure.

Welcome to the wonderful world of democratic politics, Hong Kong style.


 
Mike Rowse
email: mike@rowse.com.hk