Following yesterday's tragic events in Manila, Hong Kong politicians from Chief Executive Donald Tsang downwards have been quick to express their anger at the handling of the hostage situation by the Philippines police. It is of course easy to sit back in a comfortable room in front of your big screen TV and pass judgement in such cases. Perhaps they should give a thought to whether the right course of action is so obvious when you are out there with inadequate protection facing an armed kidnapper in torrential rain. Yes, the Philippines police appeared to lack training, equipment and leadership - all the fault of politicians, not the officers themselves. Despite this, they put their lives on the line, facing gunfire and eventually successfully rescuing at least some of the hostages alive. Don't they deserve some credit for this?
As for the Hong Kong government placing the Philippines on its tourism blacklist, advising against travel to the country, this is a silly knee-jerk reaction. The proper use of this mechanism is in cases where the security situation in a country presents a general threat to visitors, such as in Bangkok a few months ago during the clashes between the government and redshirt protesters. There is no such general danger in the Philippines - the biggest risk most Hong Kong tourists face there, unless they visit the remoter parts of Mindanao, is that of the occasional pickpocket and the country's appalling driving standards, both of which can be found much closer to home.
This was a one-off incident of a disgruntled armed nutcase running amok and killing innocent people who just happened to be there at the time. Such incidents happen from time to time in many countries, including in recent years Canada, the UK, the USA and China. It is hard to imagine the Hong Kong government advising against travel to any of those countries had a similar event occurred there.