Update from Hemlock

Strolling to the office, I am struck by a poster advertising Hang Seng Bank’s Prestige Banking Personal Concierge Service. There is something disturbing about it. It is the stiff, wooden pose and eerily forced smile on the woman staff member that jumps out at the innocent passerby. What did the HSBC subsidiary’s management or advertising agency do – or perhaps threaten to do – to make her act like that? The leering grin on the male customer’s face suggests something unspeakably vile. My guess is that they are holding her children captive, and have already started cutting off little ears and pinky fingers to force her to appear in the publicity campaign. Or something equally horrific. No-one can do that naturally.

Safely ensconced behind my desk in S-Meg Tower, I flick through the day’s news. I open the Standard and freeze in utter horror. Horse-racing in Hong Kong could soon become isolated from the rest of the world if the government does not come to its aid. Could anything more calamitous possibly happen? I was about to phone for the police to see if they could help rescue the Hang Seng Bank woman’s children from their vicious tormentors. But this is serious. All our emergency services, not to say the rest of the public sector, must be focused right now on saving our horse-racing from a slow, lonely and painful death, lost and marooned far away from the rest of our planet.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Catholic Church grapples Aquinas-like with the question of whether property tycoon Li Ka-shing can justifiably be called a devil. The Cheung Kong/Hutchison boss is, I think, vaguely a Buddhist, but this could be an important theological debate: can a businessman who makes a fat profit by selling 600-square-foot apartments that have only 450 square feet of space really call himself a Christian? It is certainly relevant to Hang Lung’s Ronnie Chan and Sun Hung Kai’s Thomas the-one-with-the-hair Kwok, both of whom are inveterate Bible-thumpers.

Catholics believe that you will go to Hell if you lie, cheat and steal in real estate sales or any other sphere of earthy life. The only way out is to say nine Hail Marys and really mean it, in which case you’re in the clear. Evangelicals like these tycoons believe that you will go to Hell if you do not accept Holy Scripture as the literal and inerrant truth. Conning homebuyers is fine provided you can convince yourself that the universe was created by an invisible disciplinarian in the sky in under a week 4,000 years ago, and a 600-year-old man once built a giant boat and filled it with pairs of every species.

I know better. Punishment is here, for the living. Eternal wrathful damnation does not involve furnaces and demons with forks – it is a 500-square-foot (gross) luxury unit at Yoho Midtown with a vast chandelier taking up half the living room and nothing but copies of Asian Golfer and glossy spa brochures to read.

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11 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Sir Crispin says:

    I’ve also often wondered how the evangelical Kwok brothers reconcile their thievery with their beliefs. I guess if they’ll get an eternal roasting for their sins…probably in a toaster oven, stuffed in the corner of a 200 sqft apt.

  2. Jeeves says:

    Surely YOHO is a reference to how the property devils are all laughing at us.
    Lucifer, unlike Believers, has a sense of humour.

  3. Big Al says:

    Here’s my take. When scientists observe the universe, they tell us that they can only account for 75% of the matter that should be there, and so have concocted “dark matter” in order to account for the difference. They’re wrong. There’s nothing missing. When God created the universe he actually only created 75% of it, but made out it was the whole thing. In the same way, our property developers actually provide flats with 75% of the area we pay for. Thus, property developers of a Christian persuasion, such as Ronnie and Thomas, are not ripping us off and will not burn in hell. Quite the contrary, they are in fact doing God’s will and their seats in heaven are assured (those who have build arks get to sit a bit closer to God). In fact, they are probably mildly annoyed that they have not yet been canonised for their earthly do-gooding. The non-Christian developers, on the other hand, probably don’t give a shit either way.

  4. I am the 7th person in my close family to have studied at Cambridge. We are a bright lot. says:

    The one consolation is that all three oldish skuzzballs depicted above will, relatively soon, be wherever dead people go when they kack it.

  5. Maugrim says:

    Father Law is quite an interesting and peaceful man, more power to him. The reaction from the Li camp only adds fuel to the rumour that Mr. Li scans the press each day looking for negative comments. Retribution can apparantly be expected, often at the hands of a minion.
    A priest, greed, retribution, punishment, all very Hong Kong and yet strangely Catholic.

  6. Ulaca says:

    I wonder if Winifred Engelbrecht-Bresges’ business strategy is better than his racing tips: neither of his selections on last night’s card managed to run even a place.

  7. Who gives a fuck? says:

    Who gives a fuck? says “Who gives a fuck?”

    The concept of blogging, which is now quite clearly the world’s most self-indulgent form of “art”, is well and truly dead. I suggest a simple cremation funeral of the lumpen beast, and that we then all move on.

    Mr Lychee, it is time to pull the plug.

  8. gweipo says:

    never mind the ads, what is quite disconcerting is that when one goes to see one’s private banker you have to trip over all the protesters who lost money due to those evil lady bankers … perhaps it is she who is the witch disguised as a beguiling young lass tempting that poor innocent wealthy property tycoon into putting his last gazzilion into an accumulator that may disappear in a puff of magical banking smoke?

  9. Mike says:

    @who gives a fuck

    Your sentiment has been echoed for over 400 years:


    Which begs the question, if you’re annoyed, why bother reading?

    Another great post Hemlock.

  10. PropertyDeveloper says:

    You know you’re hitting the bone when people start to hurl abuse at you. You’ve elevated satire to literary heights!

  11. Maugrim says:

    Was that really Canning Fok above?

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