Thursday, February 23, 2006

Goods and Services Tax and Elections

The goods and services tax (GST) as proposed in this year's budget is a good idea from the point of view of providing a more stable tax income and a broader tax base. It would be quite reasonable in a more open and democratic society where the tax payer has a more direct say on where and how the tax money so collected are spent. Unfortunately it is not the case in Hong Kong at the moment. It is more like taxation without representation.

It can be claimed that the Hong Kong tax payers are indirectly represented, however indirectly through the appointed councilors and small functional constituencies. By the same reasoning, it can be argued that the average Hong Kong citizens (who are not paying direct taxes such as income tax) are also indirectly contributing to the tax income by working hard and helping others make the money from which taxes are paid. Now they are being asked to pay more directly.

I am firmly in support of no taxation without representation, and the complementary taxation therefore representation. I trust that many people are happy to pay a little more direct taxes in the form of an universal GST but please give us also the same but deserved right to direct elections and universal suffrage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hong Kong Marathon Mishaps

This year’s Hong Kong Marathon attracted a lot more negative attention than past years, due to the bad air, 2 serious casualties, and large number of minor mishaps. I ran in the full marathon and saw the collapsed man on the on-ramp of the TsingMa Bridge. Someone was performing CPR on him and that was scary. But I later learned that he was not an inexperienced runner, and have participated in other marathons before. He is probably not someone who did not know what to expect.

About the thousands of people getting medical assistance, a large number of them were probably quite minor, like mine. I did stop for a bandage at about 15km for a blister, and later to get a dose of ointment for my tired legs which were threatening to cramp up. To me, these are not unexpected risks regularly associated with rigorous sports. In sports, we always try to push ourselves to be faster, stronger, more enduring, more agile, more something or the other. There are always hurts to endure and risks to take. Nothing comes without a price.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Walking together, separately

A few days ago I was on a bus and spotted two young men walking on the sidewalk. Something about them caught my attention. They seemed to be walking together – they were consistently side by side, about 2 feet apart; they cross streets together. But they were not talking to each other. Instead, each was holding a mobile phone to his ear. So here we have 2 people walking together, each engaging in his own world and not with each other.

It is said that there are more mobile phones in HK than people. In one way, mobile phones connect us to people from a distance. In another, they disconnect us from people who are right next to us.