I start the day stirring my congee in the booth with the window view in the charming Formica surroundings of Yuet Yuen restaurant – one of the last remaining family businesses in this edge of Central now largely blanketed with stores selling designer-label scented candles, fine handcrafted elite stationery, exclusive lifestyle collections of silver and glass ornaments, and impractically shaped jars of brightly coloured wellness products. Opposite me, ever-ravishing Administrative Officer Winky Ip dabs ladylike traces of chili onto her noodles and then turns her laptop round to show me something.
“Do you remember this email from about three years ago? It was originally sent to every legislator. Then your boss got it, my boss got it, every government minister and public figure got it.”
I take a look and it comes back to me immediately. It was one of those something-for-everyone rants by someone who had simply suffered too much injustice and had gone over the edge. It had expat (in fact, Singaporean) housewife anguish, middle-class rage, more than a dash of seething kiasu, and GENEROUS USE of UPPER CASE to MAKE THE POINT.
The last straw for this woman – and she was not alone – was a woeful government decision to retroactively suspend a levy paid by employers of Filipino and Indonesian maids. It all came down to whether the maid was hired before or after 1 August. Rather than rejoice in others’ good fortune, employers who had already signed a new contract and had to pay the HK$9,600 railed at the great unfairness of it all.
Dear Legco members, I strongly believe that the policy is SO UNFAIR to the employers who have just signed a new contract with our domestic maid. I have just signed a contract to employ a domestic maid in July therefore unfortunately not able to benefit from this new policy.
Having been in Hong Kong for over 20 years and being a faithful tax-payer all along, I am EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with the Hong Kong SAR government. I am not able to take advantage of any of your government benefits, such as purchasing a government subsidised flat, government medical (how to, when you see hundreds of Chinese immigrants who never pay tax queuing up, etc.), crapy local school systems which made the children become ‘white mouse’ (B.T.W, I sent my kids to ESF, a British International school in order to avoid further suffering), despite the loads of money that I have been paying for the tax to the Hong Kong government.
Keep paying and paying to SAR HK Government, contributing so much to Hong Kong, but yet NOT A BIT OF RETURN at all. And on the contrarary have to suffer from the soaring inflation, depreciation of Hong Kong currency against Singapore dollars and Renminbi, etc., it’s high time that I should decide to LEAVE HONG KONG FOREVER, together with my family. Indeed, Hong Kong is NO LONGER AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE FOR FOREIGNERS TO STAY ON, ALL MY FRIENDS AGREE TOO! I urge that the new policy be taken with immediate effect so that we will not suffer further. I am getting more and more disappointed with Hong Kong Government, especially our CEO, Mr. Tsang. The scandals in the Hong Kong Government have fueled my disappointment.
I grin at the memory of this nice little rant arriving in the email in-boxes of Hong Kong’s great and good. “She sent another one just the next day, didn’t she?” I ask Winky. A few taps at the keyboard, and up it comes…
Dear Legco, Both my husband and I are completely disappointed with our Hong Kong Government! My husband loss his job in April this year, as a result of the MTR-KCR deal. He is a surveyor by professional. Being a Master Degree holder, he has also other professional such as royal institute, a law degree, a member of many renowned industry associations. His pay at KCR was HK$48000/- per month.
Tell me, is HK$48000 too high a pay for a professional who have spent years of studies, burning midnight oil to study, to obtain one after another professional qualifications? Despite his significant contributions to the industry of Hong Kong, pathetically, the Hong Kong Government directly led him to become jobless due to the MTR-KCR deal. My husband, together with 11 other surveyors were being fired together in April 2008. Needless to say, everybody was very distressed, upset, disappointed with Hong Kong Government!
My husband was lucky enough to be able to get a job to work in a consultancy firm in Hong Kong, however, unfortunately, most of the others have to force to work in overseas country such as Dubai, Middle East, India, etc. and to be parted with their family members. When my husband queried as to why he was being sacked, they simply told him that his response to the firm commissioned by MTR was somewhat too brief as he had only related to them only 5 years of his past experience. As a matter of fact, a standard template CV prepared by MTR consultant, required them to only list out the past 5 years of their work experience but he ended up being fired because of falling into a snare set up by MTR! I hope the Government will seriously conduct an investigation into this case re MTR recruitment process.
Isn’t it pathetic, these people have contributed significantly to Hong Kong, but ended up having to FAREWELL TO HONG KONG. What we fail to understand that while most developed countries will strive to sustain talent workers, the Hong Kong Government on the contrary, force out the talents to overseas and send them away like a ‘christmas gift’! Therefore, it’s no matter that Hong Kong Government is getting more and more hopeless and the recent poll re survey of Donald Tsang explicitly should tell us how we citizens in Hong Kong are very, extremely, fed up with Donald ‘Duck’ Tsang!!! Furthermore, all our friends from the middle working class, also share our views about the Hong Kong Government.
They all way that Hong Kong Government is getting more and more BRAINLESS, USELESS, HOPELESS and living in hong Kong is MEANINGLESS!!!
P.P.S. Sadly, I previously quite admire Mr. Tsang, but the recent scandals, such as recruitment of senior government officers holding foreign passports, now the domestic maids issue (I just signed a contract)
At which point, the email fizzled out, leaving just the echoed screech of someone who was borderline unhinged, or at least getting a huge amount off her chest. I would have liked to have written it as fiction, but I’m not that good.
“Well guess what?” Winky says, leaning forward to me. “She’s back.” She turns the screen to me again. The raving Singaporess has been stirred back to life and moved to email the entire Hong Kong establishment by the recent minor spot of bother the MTR got into when its ad agency stupidly threatened to withhold future advertising from a newspaper that ran a negative article on the company besides one of its advertisements…
Dear all, I am writing to express my ‘happiness’ and ‘relieve’ over the recent scandals about MTRC, in connection to OMD advertising issues, last year’s Optopus whereby we ignorant citizens discovered that our personal data had been sold out to insurance firm, etc.
The truth about MTRC, being a public corporation, funded by Government, has no social responsibility at all! My husband, together with 11 other highly educated, professionals who had contributed to their utmost efforts to work on various Airport and other MTRC infrastructure projects since 1990, had been ruthlessly fired by MTRC! This group of talented personnel, who had strived for the best interest of HK, were sadly being disregarded by MTRC. Right after the retrenchment, we got an update that all these professionals left HK for other countries such as Singapore, Canada, Australia, USA, and in our case, Beijing, and due to their departure, their spouses also left HK.
For me, I had just went to the HK Home Affairs yesterday to declare permanent departure from HK, having lived here for over 20 years, to go back to Singapore and also live in Beijing sometimes, to reunion with my husband. So you see, the HK government has balatantly loss tens, and perhaps hundreds of this elite group who had in the past contributed to paying a substantial amount of monies of tax, a faithfully group of tax payers BUT NEVER EVER ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF HK. For example, we never have the opportunity to apply for government flat due to our income, never have the courage to give birth in a government hospital due to a chaotic influx of mainland Chinese women who literally occupy all the beds and fill up all government hospitals, my daughter goes to an international school in HK as we never trusted the ever changing, keep on changing, treating all children like ‘white rats’ ‘wonderful’ education in HK (also the shockingly high standard of English teachers over in HK, majority of whom flung their English test), government officials fetching heft salaries, but keep making wrong decisions and never act in the interest of the public, etc.
In retrospect, when I see our lives in HK, we have been paying and paying annually taxes to the HK government, BUT we have to ask ourselves ‘what have HK Government done to return our kindness, especially to the middle class professionals’? No more infrastructure jobs available to sustain highly professional engineers, there also goes their spouses who, like me, used to work in an investment bank, but HAVE TO LEAVE HK (no choice, otherwise, I might face the consequence of divorce from my husband, having been living apart for so long, it’s high time to join him).
All of us, the past victims of MTRC ex employees were EXTREMELY THRILLED AND JOYOUS WHEN WE LEARNED OF THE RECENT NEWS ABOUT MTRC. We feel that all the senior management staff of MTRC OUGHT TO BE FIRED as they are a group of brainless, lazy, bureaucratic, ruthless, bunch of shits! There were 11 talented surveyors, together 11 of their spouses left HK permanently, as ‘eliminated’ by MTRC. I had also contributed to the prosperity of HK, but sadly had to be ‘eliminated’ by MTRC as well as HK Government. I am sure you folks have heard about this Chinese proverb ‘you drink the water and you must remember the source of the water’, ie. be grateful to people who are kind to you, BUT ironically, after all we had help built HK to be a successful place as it is, MTRC (funded by HK government) ‘chopped’ ‘executed’ us, treating us like ‘merely another piece of machinery’ in HK.
Well, well, good luck to HK. I felt a great joy when I file an oath at the Home Affairs department yesterday as its a relieve that I am finally going to be OUT OF HONG KONG.
P.S. Keep on taking in millions of Mainland Chinese who come to HK to give birth everyday, and subsequently follow by their aunties, uncles, fathers and mothers who apply to come to HK to receive pensions but not contributing their talent to HK at all. I wish you all as Good Luck as us. B.T.W., we actually have to thank MTRC, it was a blessing in disguise, due to being fired by MTRC, my husband got a job from a renowned Australian firm and is now working for a huge project in Beijing. Both his firm and his client, a renowned top 500 fortune American firm, are so impressed by his professional qualifications, skills, experience and above all, his integrity and character, have offer to extend his contract for another 5 years. Anyway, after the end of the contract, we don’t decide to return to HK, but will be returning to Singapore, after all, PAP is STILL THE BEST! We LOVE LEE KWAN YEW!
Magnificent. This is to literature what the King of Kowloon’s graffiti is to painting. I push the laptop back to Winky. “Wow… I wonder if she feels better now.” My congee has been getting cold.
The bureaucrat lowers the monitor of the computer with respect and affection, like a relative gently closing a loved one’s coffin. “I think I’ll miss her.”
“There are plenty more out there,” I assure her.