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劉廼強 | 30th Aug 2008 | SCMP | (75 Reads)

For a long time, the Civic Party lobbied very hard to allow only “academic institutions” to do exit polls during elections. This is an untenable practice never to be found anywhere else in the world. Moreover, by “academic institution”, everybody knows they mean the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP), which, incidentally is not an academic institution at all. This is an outright commercial enterprise with Dr. Chung Ting-yiu as the boss, and it does almost all the opinion polls for the dissidents. The impartiality of HKUPOP polls is therefore always in question.

In fact, it was the dissidents who first made use of exit polls for their strategic voting manoeuvres. Should they be successful in banning others doing exit polls, they will be able to monopolize this very effective weapon in electioneering. But this outrageously ludicrous arrangement did not gain support from the public, and was not included in the current election by-laws. Now that anybody can freely do exit polls, the dissidents then dreamt up another even more moronic proposal. A campaign has been launched on the web asking voters to tell exit polls they have voted the pro-establishment DAB to mislead the results. Somebody should warn them, by confusing the exit poll results, all sides would be misled, including they themselves. Obviously such a stupid scheme cannot catch on.

What else will these people think of next? When the crunch comes, all gloves are off, and our “academic institution” does not even bother to put on a token façade. Dr. Chung said instead of releasing his exit poll results at 9:00pm when the election is about to end and there is nothing anybody can do about it, he is going to do it twice during the day, at 12:30 noon, and 5:00pm as well to his commercial sponsors whose staff he thinks will keep a secret. This time, even some dissident candidates who might not be accessible to the early releases, probably through some undisclosed channels, yell foul play.

One thing is for sure, the wind does not bode too well for the dissident candidates in this election. However, as befitting politicians, they will do everything just to win. Now that they no longer have anything to sell, they rely on spin-doctors and tricks. Whoever they do not like, they just say, “He/she is being supported by the Liaison Office (of the Central Government).” Just a label, and there is absolutely no further substantiation and evidence. When this does not work, they resort to a recent tactic to declare “Anson Chan/Martin Lee supports me” .

Anson Chan, on her part, apart from running all over the territory to lend her invaluable support to her picked candidates, is to release her version of “Hong Kong core value”. Presumably, any candidate who does not pledge allegiance to this Anson Doctrine is to be outcast by the voters.

Forgive me if I sound a bit old-fashioned, I just don’t see how anybody can be a prominent backer of one side of the match, a rule maker, and an umpire at the same time and claim to act impartially. For someone who is still under the shadow of the 100% mortgage scandal, it sounds highly hypocritical for Anson Chan to condemn collusion between government and big business and the mutual exchange of benefits. I cannot help myself laughing.

On the other hand, I am really glad that our dissidents stoop so low to avoid defeat. Doing so they single-handedly shatter any illusion about their brand of democracy, and what will happen should they come to power through an election. As a result, despite cut-throat competition, the turn-out rate is going to be not as high as four years ago, and the dissidents will lose seats in the new session of Legislative Council. They only have themselves to blame.

Will I see you at the polling station?

劉廼強 | 26th Aug 2008 | 信報 | (59 Reads)











二零一二年 (六十加十席)

  • 立法會議席增至七十席,地區直選及功能組別各增加五席。
  • 新增的五個功能組別全歸區議員功能組別,即區議會功能組別增至六席。

二零一六年 (七十加十席)

  • 立法會議席增至八十席,地區直選及功能組別各增加五席。
  • 新增的五個功能組別全歸區議員功能組別,即區議會功能組別增至十一席。
  • 取消立法會分組投票的安排。

二零二零年 (八十席)

  • 取消所有功能組別議席。
  • 立法會議席維持在八十席,全部由分區直選產生。


劉廼強 | 24th Aug 2008 | SCMP | (196 Reads)

As a small island economy, Hong Kong cannot be immune from the global inflation and the looming economic downturn. The poor is going to be the hardest hit.

The income disparity of Hong Kong is quite well-known, with its Gini coefficient rising to 0.533 in 2006, which is quite high by any standard. According to official acknowledgment, there are some 800,000 people living below the poverty line. Of these, about half is already enjoying Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) of about HK$3,750 of per capita per month, and with all their basic needs covered for free. For a family of 4, CSSA would amount to over HK$11,000.

The other half falls into the category of “working poor”. Some work for a pathetic wage of less than HK$20 per hour. That is, should they work 8 hours a day, 30 days a month, a family of 4 with both parents working can only earn HK$9,600. This family will be better off not working and applying for welfare instead.

If the government is not going to do anything about this unreasonable imbalance, when prices keep on rising, more people will lose their determination to work and be tempted to apply for CSSA. This is what any rational person is supposed to do. Out of the 400,000 working poor, should a mere 5% opt for this easy solution, the government will have to spend HK$1 billion extra each year to support CSSA.

These 400,000 who are determined to be self-supporting have earned the common respect of Hong Kong citizens, because we all suffer varying degrees of hardship under rising inflation. Not many people will object to our government making effort to assist them through the hard times.

There are existing schemes to subsidize food and transportation for the poor with minimum red tape and administrative costs. Based on the mechanisms of these successful schemes, we can subsidize the family members of the working poor to the tune of HK$200 per person per month. In the above example of a family of 4, a total subsidy of HK$800 will add about 10% to their earned income, and will bring them closer to the income of comparable CSSA families. To cover all 400,000 of the working poor, again a total outlay of HK$1 billion is sufficient. This is the most cost-effective measure even if we only judge it from the angle of preventing more people applying for CSSA. For comparison, the government controversial subsidy for our electric bill has already amounted to HK$4.4 billion.

Subsidies are temporary measures, which can go either up or down, or even be cancelled when the need is no longer there. Should inflation continue the top-up subsidies can be raised to HK$300, then HK$400 per person. However, the radical solution lies in instituting minimum wage, and maximum working hours.

The voluntary minimum wage arrangement proves to be a failure, and according to the commitment of the Chief Executive Donald Tsang, there will be legislation in the coming months. To make it really effective, this should be instituted across the board, with the exception of foreign workers. The mainland, Taiwan and all our neighbouring countries all have minimum wage and maximum work hour requirements. With the exception of the mainland, the rest are all capitalistic economies, and they are all thriving.

If our future development still relies on such blatant exploitation, this is going to be counter-productive. A US$30,000 per capita economy cannot be built on sweat shops. Instead we should strive for knowledge, innovation and excellence, which simply cannot be achieved through working for extremely long hours on appallingly low wages. The Donald Tsang administration led by practising a 5-day week, but went short of mandating it. As a result, our banks tried to follow, but recanted after a short trial period. It takes guts and determination to break old habits and push through reforms.

劉廼強 | 19th Aug 2008 | 信報 | (69 Reads)












劉廼強 | 15th Aug 2008 | SCMP | (69 Reads)

There have been so many fakeries in recent Chinese history that many outsiders have developed some stereotype about the country. For the Chinese themselves, who actually suffered because of such mischievous deeds, there is a general feeling of detest of anything fake.

After the grand opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, two aspects of the show gradually released through the media. First of all, of the 29 footprints represented by firework marching through the city towards the “bird nest” stadium to kick off the show, only the last one was real, the rest were synthesized through the computer. Secondly, the nine-year girl with the perfect combination of angelic face and voice was actually doing lip-sync, which is a common practice in many “live” shows.

To the film director Zhang Yimu, who created and directed the show, there was nothing wrong about this, as he does it all the time in making movies. A show has to be perfect, and as such, there are many elements of make-believe. But unlike movies, which have invariably at the end, a scrolling down of long lists of who-is-doing-what, he should have made proper acknowledgements during the subsequent press conference. Even the people who released the information to the public saw nothing really wrong about the tricks, they just wanted to tell people what had actually happened and properly acknowledged the other girl who did the wonderful singing. They do not have anything to hide, and there is no finger pointing. In fact, the names of both girls were listed on the programme.

The ensuing heated debate on the web is also very healthy. Some abhor anything even bordering on faking in the Olympics, and they want a show that is perfect in the sense that it is genuine in every aspect. Others just enjoy a spectacular show, knowing full well that it is a show anyway. This just goes to illustrate the high expectations of the Chinese public about the show and the Olympic Games as a whole. One thing is for sure, Chinese people do not condone faking.

For some China bashers in the Western media, they suddenly found treasure and made a big fuss about it. Let me tell you what: if the Chinese authorities really want to fake things, like any other government, they will make it a state secret, and nobody will be allowed even to talk about it.

The real fuss, it turns out, is not about the show. They just made use of these known facts to insinuate China faking and cheating in the competitions. A case in point is the female gymnastics competition. Unlike their American counterparts, these little Chinese girls are so tiny that in the eyes of Westerners, they are suspected of being under-aged. An American reporter pointedly asked one of the athletes whether she was in fact only 16. Many stories in Western media dwelled on this point, citing above incidents in the opening show as some sort of substantiation to their allegations.

It all boils down to one thing: some people are bad losers. If indeed they have the so-called “evidence” as they claimed, I suggest they file a formal complaint to the International Olympics Committee, which is obligated to get to the bottom of it and do something to make it right. Defamation will not help anybody get a gold medal.

Watching the Chinese athletes grabbing one gold medal after another, I fully understand the feelings of some Westerners. The Chinese are coming up so fast that many just find it difficult to accept. It will take some time for them to adjust their superiority complex and acknowledge Chinese as equals. It is a Western problem, not a Chinese one. For the Chinese, they are now basking in glory and pride that they do not care a bit about what these people think.

Talk about faking, what about the case of NBC changing the order in which the athletes were shown marching in, presumably to keep viewers’ eyeballs until the Americans had arrived? This trickery was not voluntarily divulged as the case in China, it was exposed by flaws in the cutting. This is what I call faking, and a badly executed one for that matter. But I do not really care, because it is harmless.