Mutant scarlet fever bacteria stalk the city’s schools, kids drop like flies and, just when it seems it couldn’t get any worse, panic breaks out at the news that the World Health Organisation is going to butt in. The worst part of it is that the colourful-sounding pestilence affects mostly children; in other words, no tourists will die, be imprisoned in a hotel or otherwise be dissuaded from infesting our already overcrowded streets. A disease that doesn’t get rid of tourists is a disease not worth having.
Meanwhile, life-threatening illegal structures (as in entire extra floors) teeter atop village houses, leaving officials with an awkward problem. They can enforce the law, in which case the aboriginal inhabitants of the New Territories will rise up in armed rebellion and charge into Central on buffalo to raze the Legislative Council to the ground, slaughter all adult males and carry bureaucrats’ womenfolk off into the mountains. Or the government can turn a blind eye, and then try to tell, with a straight face, several hundred thousand urban-area households to remove their own unauthorized extensions. A clue – as if one is needed – about which option officials will go for: offending homeowners are invited to turn themselves in by registering their illicit add-ons with the Buildings Gestapo. Don’t all rush.
And as if it doesn’t have enough on its plate, Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s lame duck administration pauses on its limp waddle into the sunset to ban by-elections for democratically elected seats in the Legislative Council. Fundamentally undemocratic in principle, begging to be thrown out by the courts, illogical, with no known international precedent and introduced in a rush with no public consultation, this is obviously being done at Beijing’s behest. But everyone’s too polite to say. That’s how spooked the central people’s government is by the idea of opposition legislators triggering faux-referendums by resigning mid-term. And just when you thought Constitutional Affairs Secretary Stephen Lam couldn’t possibly look any more weasel-like…
With so much unpleasant weirdness and mayhem going on, our valiant leaders need to divert our attention with a diversionary trick. Behold: the government issues a press release announcing that one of its more financially and environmentally ruinous bureaus is congratulating a fellow public agency – famous for driving the poor out of traditional neighbourhoods so the property cartel can erect ugly, luxury-market mega-developments – for its “people-first, district-based and public participatory approach.” If that doesn’t leave everyone in stunned silence, what will?