Wed, 13 Sep
“That stupid diary of yours – it was actually quite good on Monday.” Pleasantly proportioned Administrative Office Winky Ip eases herself into the opposite seat at the Foreign Correspondents Club. “But then yesterday it went back to being total rubbish.” I ask her why, and she looks at me in amazement.
“The Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council!” she blurts out. “How could you miss out the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council? They were the first people to realize that Hong Kong should grasp the opportunities presented by China’s 11th Five-Year Plan!”
Seeing my bewilderment, she uses her extensive Civil Service training to explain everything in a tone of voice so condescending that it drives the waitresses away. “It was the Council’s perception that led to the Economic Summit on Monday. And the participants there recommended…” She glances down at something in her lap. “… numerous strategic measures with great foresight and insight. And in the coming months they will develop a pragmatic and feasible action agenda for the Government, the business sector and public organizations. The implementation timetable of these measures will match the 11th Five-Year Plan period.” She looks up at me again. “You see now? The action agenda will form the economic strategy for the next five-year term of the Hong Kong Government.”
I think I start to get it. This is to do with the Chief Executive’s declaration that positive non-interventionism was a poisonous theory pushed by capitalist-roaders in our schools. “Exactly,” says Winky, glancing at her crib sheet again. “We now realize that the Hong Kong Government needs to take the initiative and identify areas where Hong Kong can contribute to the nation.” She looks up again and smiles.
I am so excited that I think I will nominate Sir Bow-Tie for a Shaw Prize – the grand award that recognizes outstanding achievements among Mainlanders and a few other people and compensates them for their mysterious and tragic inability to win a real Nobel by giving each of them a million bucks left over from the glory days of the Hong Kong film industry. It will somehow make everything complete.
The most magnificent Sir Run Run Shaw quote ever comes to mind…
Interviewer – “Of all the hundreds of movies you made over the decades, which one was your favourite?”
Sir Run-Run (without pausing) – “The one that made the most money.”
Fri, 15 Sep
I am not accustomed to asking the two Filipino elves if they felt the earth move last night, but I find myself doing so when they report for duty at Perpetual Opulence Mansions this morning. I get good-natured sneers. “That was nothing! In my province that happens every day, and we get big ones most months when lots of houses collapse and hundreds of people are crushed to death.”
The other shrugs. “Your people are lucky there! Where I’m from, we get huge tremors all the time. Hens stop laying eggs, herds of elephants stampede inland, there are strange lights in the sky, and then the ground bounces up and down and whole villages are swallowed up. And it rains fish. And we have a volcano in the middle of a lake, and one day that will blow up and kill millions of people!”
To my relief, the Mid-Levels Escalator is abuzz with mature accounts reflecting the true seriousness of the Great Hong Kong Earthquake of 2006. “I was sitting in bed reading,” I tell several of my fellow commuters, “and I heard a distant rumbling noise lasting four or five seconds. It wasn’t like thunder – the sound was even. And I could feel a slight shuddering. My immediate thought, after all the rain recently, was that it was a landslide, and some tower block was slipping down a hill.” Mr Wong the banker describes how he was sitting at home and heard a distant rumbling noise lasting four or five seconds and felt a slight shuddering. Mr Lee the teacher says he was watching TV and didn’t notice anything. Then Ms Chan the marketing manager tells us how she heard a distant rumbling noise lasting four or five seconds and felt a slight shuddering. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this.