MTR Corp chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang is a very good spinmeister. He knows how to sugar-coat train breakdowns by claiming Hong Kong’s MTR provides the world’s best train service. He recently lost his cool during a radio interview, accusing legislative councilors of playing politics when they criticize the MTR. Whenever I see Ma Si-hang at cocktail receptions, we disagree in a friendly way about the MTR. He always insists the MTR provides an excellent service and urges me not to criticize it. But I want to assure everyone, including Ma Si-hang, that I am not playing politics when I criticize the MTR. I am not a politician, just an ordinary passenger who feels MTR train services have worsened.
A spinmeister is a spin doctor. They both mean a person whose job is to make people, mostly the media, believe things are much better than they really are, especially in politics. To “sugar-coat” something means to make something seem better or more pleasant than it really is. To “lose your cool” means to suddenly become angry. He said during the radio interview criticism against the MTR was unfair because trains are punctual 99.9 percent of the time. What he doesn’t understand is that it is pointless for trains to arrive on time when passengers cannot arrive at their destinations on time.
What is the point of punctual trains at Admiralty during rush hour when passengers have to wait for five or six trains before they can board? Ma Si-hang said Hong Kong people should try the trains in London and New York to understand how good Hong Kong’s MTR is. He fails to understand London and New York passengers are not as over-reliant as Hong Kong people are on the subway system. The London subway reinvests all its profits into the railway. The New York system is not profitable. But Hong Kong’s MTR made a $16.8 billion profit last year and still wants to increase fares by 3.14 percent. It keeps rather than reinvest most of its profits. MTR executives are the highest paid in the world. That’s why Hong Kong people are fed up with the regular breakdowns of MTR trains.
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港鐵公司主席馬時亨是個非常厲害的公關專家（spinmeister），他很知道怎樣用花言巧語（sugar-coat）去掩飾列車的頻繁故障，就是力稱香港的港鐵提供世上最好的鐵路服務。他最近在一電台訪問中沉不住氣（lost his cool）了，指責立法會議員批評港鐵是在玩政治。每當我在酒會遇見馬時亨時，我們在港鐵一事上總是有禮地意見相左，他每次都堅持港鐵提供一流的服務，力勸我不要批評它。但我想向所有人包括馬時亨保證，我批評港鐵絕非在玩政治把戲。我不是政客，只是一個覺得港鐵服務每況愈下的普通乘客。
A spinmeister即是spin doctor，二者皆指能控制輿論導向的公關或顧問，讓人相信情況比事實要來得好，尤其是在政治領域中。To“sugar-coat”即是像用糖衣掩蓋、將真實的情況加以粉飾，以巧言欺騙他人。To“lose your cool”就是突然發火、大發雷霆。他在電台訪問中說，那些對港鐵的批評都是不公的，因為港鐵有99.9%時間都是準時的。他不明白的是，當乘客不能準時到達目的地，即使列車準時抵站也是沒意思的。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧