Warning: Warnings Ahead

“Please avoid prolonged exposure to wintry winds,” says the Cold Weather Warning issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.  This is a bitter blow for those of us who were planning to go down to the waterfront this morning, throw a towel on a concrete bench near the ferry terminals, strip off our clothes and stretch out for a long, relaxing day basking in the northeast monsoon rolling through town on its long journey down from the Siberian uplands.  Interestingly, we also have a Red Fire Warning (not to be confused with a Red Fire Ants Warning – pay attention!) to remind us that, though chilly, the dry hills are just a spark away from furnace-like conflagration.

But wait!  There’s more!  A Frost Warning, applicable only to New Territories mountain vegetable growers who still haven’t heard that World War II has ended, was up overnight, but has now come down.  And we have a Red Flag Warning alerting us to the possibility that Big Wave Bay wasn’t called that just for fun.  Meanwhile, the roadside Air Pollution Index in Central today is Very High, which means ‘mostly nitrogen oxide, some oxygen’.

The big excitement for government officials whose duty it is to raise alarms is the first-ever Red Outbound Travel Alert, advising Hong Kong people to avoid prolonged exposure to Thailand on account – as it happens – of matching Red Shirts, the supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin, who are planning a major march in Bangkok in the next few days.

The OTA system was introduced in October 2009 in response to widespread public whining after Hong Kong tourists suffered inconvenience when protests, also in Bangkok, shut down airports (Yellow Shirts on that occasion).  It covers the 50 countries Hong Kong people are most likely to visit, which is why the likes of Afghanistan and Somalia do not appear.

Under the easy-to-remember system, an Amber Warning (currently applying to five countries with predominant or large Muslim populations but obviously that’s just a coincidence) means ‘Everything is cool, you can probably relax, but don’t blame the Security Bureau if you get shot or kidnapped because we issued an Amber Warning’.

The Red Warning is a much bigger deal, causing in this instance the cancellation of package tours to the Land of Smiles, and therefore inflicting commercial costs on travel companies and airlines (though only outbound operators – it’s not like it affects our precious mainland tourist trade).  It essentially means ‘We wouldn’t go there ourselves, but then we’re Hong Kong bureaucrats who fall sick after touching handrails and won’t let our kids play on grass, so everything’s probably fine, but you can’t say we didn’t put up a Red Warning’.

The Black Warning will probably rarely or never happen, because it could cost other businesses money.  Some corporate HR departments and travel insurance policies undertake to evacuate people if it is raised.  It means ‘We’re going to freeeeeak out even if you don’t, and why didn’t you listen to us when we issued the Red Warning. And please pass the antibacterial hand gel’.

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15 Responses to Warning: Warnings Ahead

  1. Bigot says:

    Wonder which alert this incompetent government is giving to travelling to the Mainland?

    What about some warnings against unscrupulous property developers and agents, body-slimming and skin-whitening operators, profligate civil servants and avaricious supermarkets and mobile phone operators?

    Since when the Hong Kong people have lost their ability to take care of themselves?

  2. Ping Che says:

    Bigot, I’m more under the impression that especially Hong Kong people love to blame everything on the government and seldom confess to their own mistakes.

  3. Sir Crispin says:

    HK, Asia’s Nanny City! Home of hysterical posturing and constant “Chinese Fire Drills.”

  4. Chanboy says:

    Is it me or has there been a severe loss of common sense? Do we really need warnings to tell people not to go to places that will endanger them? How many of Hong Kongers have a death wish? I suggest not that many. We have a thing call self-preservation. That might be news to the government.

  5. Sir Crispin says:

    There is a serious lack of common sense, it seems, all over Asia. Critical thinking doesn’t seem to a part of Confucian ideals in the curriculum.

  6. Chanboy says:

    Yeah, people here are taught to automatically accept what their superiors or authority figures say without thinking for themselves first.

    Not that the individualized “me-first” Western thinking is totally right all the time, but I mean, it seem pretty simple to not to go to unstable places that can possibly threaten you. Seems like this is a result of government knee-jerk response to criticisms. It reminds me of the dubious lawsuits they have in America, leading to absurd warnings over obvious things. It’s like that guy who sued Mcdonalds for making him get fat.

  7. Maugrim says:

    It’s all to cover the Government from the ‘wah’ factor. Wah, why doesn’t the Governmrnt organise special flights to get me out of here? Wah, why didn’t the Government tell me? Wah, why is the Government costing me business? etc etc.

  8. Troika says:

    Chanboy, who do you mean by “people here”?

    Do you mean the stupid, thick idiots in your house?

  9. Chanboy says:

    Oooooo, I love your “intelligent” remarks Troika. Do you actually have a point to make? Or as I have guessed, you aren’t capable of making one, so you are another of those retarded numbskulls in HK. I pity you. Learn to make a point and I might actually consider the merits of your comment. Really, it’s not that hard.

  10. Sam says:

    Dear Troika & Chanboy,

    Please take a big, deep breath and count to 10, both of you.

    There, that’s better now.

    Please remember this is the Big Lychee blog and we’re all expected to maintain its high standard of wit and civility.

    As for me, this Red Alert for Thailand means cheap airfares and hotel rates will abound until the protests are over, so my family and I will be booking our trip right away.

    Hasta la vista, baby!

  11. pamela stunt says:

    what happens if you are colour blind?

  12. Jon Dica says:

    But who has been monitoring Suzy Creamcheese’s development?

  13. Kelvin says:

    I like the idea that this colour scheme is probably telling us “Don’t even TRY to visit Germany or Belgium!”

  14. Virgil Tibbs says:

    Love how simple and lacking in background and analysis the HK warnings are compared to US, UK, Canadian or Australian advisories.

    The warning for Turkey seems to date from August.

    Seriously, HK people go to Iran?

  15. Maugrim says:

    Virgil Tibbs, seriously, you wouldn’t believe the number of Chinese, female HK’ers I know who have been there in the past year. Go figure eh?

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