A Blissful Green Lohas Bay of Gateway and Hub – if only

The South China Morning Post reports minor uproar over something called The Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary. If alarmists like legislator Cyd Ho and district councilor Paul Zimmerman are to be believed, the Hong Kong government has been caught in the act of planning our city’s long-term physical development behind closed doors with officials over the border. And it looks like it: tucked away in the Planning Department’s website is a suspiciously brief and low-profile public consultation exercise for a Mainland-flavoured, detail-free report packed with trendy buzzwords on making the coastal Pearl River Delta paradise on earth.

We are haunted by old fears dating back to the 1980s: grasping red-eyed cadres ooze their way over the border and sink their teeth into Hong Kong – or, to be blunt, its bulging fiscal reserves. In the first few years after the handover, the new Special Administrative Region’s British-trained senior bureaucrats made a point of keeping Mainland counterparts at arm’s length. The cadres complained to Beijing about this ex-colonial snottiness, and the word came down to cut it out. Nowadays, the official line in the Big Lychee’s public sector is constant and incessant cross-border cooperation, integration, partnership and harmony, as exemplified through a dozen talking shops producing copious flimflam to give Mainlanders face. The leaders of Guangzhou, historic capital of the region, are especially prickly, harbouring deranged civic dreams of usurping Hong Kong as a port/financial hub/etc.

But Cyd Ho, Paul Z, et al are grabbing the wrong end of the stick. What the Hong Kong bureaucrats have been caught at is not sacrificing local autonomy to mainland interests, but cynically agreeing to a load of hyped-up baloney to keep the cadres over the border happy. The glossy consultation document, with its randomly coloured backgrounds, irrelevant photos, sloppy English and gushing stream of innovation/ecological/quality living gobbledygook is designed to fool our academic and civil service friends up in Guangdong into thinking we are taking them seriously when we’re not.

If local activists want to accuse the Hong Kong government of anything, it should be its insincerity in claiming to want to make this part of the world a nicer place to live in. Take a quick trip through at least a few parts of the neigbouring region today and you can’t help thinking that it might not be so bad if the Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Zhongshan planners really did replace ours here in the Big Lychee. It is not that the nearby Mainland cities are beautifully laid-out, exactly; just that our own local urban designers are a bunch of obsessive-compulsive psychopaths stuck in a 1970s rut of more density, more highways, more traffic, more smog, more concrete, and no place for humans. A classroom of nine-year-olds with a big box of Lego would do better.

To take one simple example. On page 12 (Action3: to promote Green Transport), a brightly coloured map shows Central and Tsimshatsui as ‘demonstration’ priority areas for non-motorized transportation, where “a mix of traditional cultures, retail shopping and leisure uses and well connected [sic] to public transport system would help create a convenient, safe, harmonious and pleasant environment for non-motorized travelers.” You can tell just by reading it that the Hong Kong bureaucrats waved it through with a “yeah, sure, whatever,” and a yawn.

And our local activists accuse them of meaning it? Fat chance.

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12 Responses to A Blissful Green Lohas Bay of Gateway and Hub – if only

  1. Tea, English Breakfast Tea? says:

    Maps of the PRD invariably remind me of a sideways-on cross-sectional view of a vagina and the associated downstairs tackle – see

    http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/images/05-08-femaleinternalside.jpg

    Macau is the anus, PR the Regina, Lantau the urethra, and Hong Kong Island the clitorissy thingy.

  2. Dr Anita Dick says:

    One must understand that our over-paid and under-qualified Hong Kong planners are all eating -very well, thank you- out of the gold-plated civil service rice bowl.
    It would be unrealistic to assume that even a single one of them would ever propose an original out-of-the-lunchbox idea that could, potentially, go wrong and therefore threaten his or her gilded mandarin existence, including the air-conditioning allowance.

  3. Maugrim says:

    Well, these guys have to do something. After filling in the harbour, building tunnels, concreting most of HK, we then have the ‘what’s next’ question. Thus we have toxic-mudville in Shenzhen and some PRD thingy. It could be worse.

  4. York Hunt says:

    Yes, it could be worse and it is called Tin Shui Wai.

    You have probably never been there but it evokes images of Pyongyang, except that the trains run on time.

  5. PropertyDeveloper says:

    If some of the maps are to be trusted, the mainland is to take over some of Ping Chau, and Sha Tau Kok Hoi is to lose its coastal greenery.

  6. darovia says:

    “If some of the maps are to be trusted, the mainland is to take over some of Ping Chau” – PropertyDeveloper

    This is totally consistent with other aspirations, such as the claim over the South China Sea that runs within two inches of the Manila Yatch Club.

  7. darovia says:

    So

    “If some of the maps are to be trusted, the mainland is to take over some of Ping Chau” – PropertyDeveloper

    This is totally consistent with other aspirations, such as the claim over the South China Sea that runs within two inches of the Manila Yatch Club.

  8. HoneyChile says:

    Woz wrong with the China men gettin togetha? Seems like a good idea to me. Dunno why you agin it, white boy. Seems like you want us all to live like folks on the Isle of Wight or some place.

    Fourteen year down da road and you still wanna treat Hong Kong like something special when it aint.

    Catch you later. Get out into the sunshine. Difficult to catch in Soho I knows but pasty ain’t tasty, honey.

  9. Mike Giggler says:

    What’s a yatch, and why is there a club in Manila devoted to them?

  10. Foxtrotosca says:

    “Yatch”
    Short for the term Bi-yatch. Usually used to describe your girlfriend. Can be used as a term of endearment or an insult.
    Question: “What are you doin tonight?”
    Answer: “Nada im hangin out with the yatch”

    Question: “Why do you look pissed”
    Answer: “That yatch cheated on me!”

  11. Mike Giggler says:

    Ah, now I see. Thanks, Foxtrot. I get it now.

    It’s something like, “Life’s a yatch, then you die”.

    And I guess that means the club is a Manila version of the Ladies Recreation Club?

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