According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong public hospitals’ 200-300 psychiatrists can spend only five to 10 minutes in consultation with each of their annual total of 150,000 new patients. Perhaps we should be grateful that mentally ill people run amok and chop up passers-by with meat cleavers only once every few months or so. This is, after all, a flow of 410 newly diseased minds per 24 hours – though perhaps the most amazing thing is that 6,999,590 of us stay sane every day.
As usual, the latest such incident, in which two people were killed and three seriously wounded, prompts hand-wringing and complaints. Residents of the public housing estate concerned are angrily demanding that schizophrenic and similarly afflicted neighbours be moved somewhere else. They don’t say where. I would suggest Discovery Bay, which for several decades now has housed thousands of people who have quietly gone mad, far away from the daily lives and thoughts of the rest of the population. Activists and do-gooders meanwhile demand that the government allocate more resources; it takes one year, apparently, for someone suffering from depression to have their first appointment with a specialist.
Our officials are made of sterner stuff. The SCMP reports that Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare Paul Tang says that such incidents are inevitable and “We have already increased the support for the mentally ill over the past several years.” In short, it’s no big deal, and anyway these evil, dangerous lunatics have too much already.
One possible solution, given that sorting out the deranged on a case-by-case basis is such a drag, is to gather them all up and launch them into outer space.
Which brings us rather neatly to the government’s call for high school students to volunteer for Young Astronaut Training Camp. The lucky youthful Hongkongers, hand-picked from the millions who are independent, extrovert, confident and proficient in Putonghua, will be sent to the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre to undergo such enjoyable experiences as blood redistribution adaptability training – otherwise known as being strapped to a chair upside-down.
The exercise is being run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (ultimate boss: imprisoned student Communist activist and now Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing) in the shape of the Space Museum – the nearest we have to NASA. The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and The Hong Kong Institute for Promotion of Chinese Culture are also involved. The CGCC, which organizes frequent and unforgettably exciting pro-motherland cocktail gatherings as well as such events as anti-Falun Gong exhibitions, is presumably chipping in some money. The HKIPCC, a group for arty types from academia and the media, with friends in government and the intellectual wing of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, will perhaps help out with the non-astronomical part of the syllabus.
In short, this is part of that large-scale effort to introduce harmonized and correct standards of mental health across the community: the United Front. The students will return in tiptop condition, not only in adaptability of blood redistribution, but in the adaptability of their fresh young minds, untainted by the colonial-era thinking that make some older Hong Kong people unhinged, violent time-bombs – rampaging around challenging the Communist Party with meat cleavers in their insane quest for democracy.