Emerging blinking in the daylight after Phase One of Hong Kong’s Winter Hibernations, the still-adjusting eyes glance hazily around the front page of the Standard. The strange thing about tabloids is that you absorb the stories without even trying. Obviously this is deliberate, given that the papers are aimed at readers with limited attention spans. The Shenzhen bus accident is a tragic page-turner, propelled to the front more by the lack of any other news rather than because three Hong Kong residents died. Yet within a second or two all the basic details have leapt into my consciousness, along with an adjoining picture of some sort of berries or seeds encased in translucent dark red pulp and some sort of pinkish fatty cold meat.
Flicking through the following pages, I find myself pondering the inanity of the story on the Y Elites survey of how women post photos on the Internet to win approval from others (or something). Y Elites is a United Front group of the vaguely young, vaguely not-really-elite, which strives to ignite Hong Kong young people’s passion and love for the motherland. On a more zippy, alert and enthusiastic sort of day I would wonder why such an obscure pro-Beijing organization is raising its head at this particular time. But instead, my mind drifts back to the ad photo on the front page. It was pomegranate, clearly, and some sort of salami.
Pomegranates seem to be in season right now. There is even one in my kitchen (they make amazing juice). I remember they were a treat when we were kids. We would eat the juicy flesh and fire the pips straight from our mouths with peashooters without even pausing to think what a miracle of convenience nature had wrought just for sweet-toothed, lightly armed little boys. As for the salami – well, it’s just salami. Actually, the front-page picture next to the bus crash looked a bit more like the little slices of sausage-plastic hybrid you get in a cellophane pack with tonkatsu instant ramen.
The women interviewed by Y Elites in shopping districts are utter bimbos; that seems to be the story. Far more interesting, it is starting to dawn on me, is what a weird juxtaposition that is: pomegranate and sort-of-salami. Curiosity gets the better of me, and I turn back to the Standard’s front cover. It’s ‘fine jewellery’, apparently.
Meanwhile, RTHK reports that National Development and Reform Commission boss Zhang Ping has expressed the hope of closer cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The Standard has it that Zhang Ping praised Chief Executive Donald Tsang for promoting closer cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The government sees things a bit differently, maintaining that Zhang will facilitate cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
When stuck for words in the presence of a vast flower arrangement, tacky Great Wall tapestry and the press, ramp up the cooperation, or at least declarations thereof. This must be the eleven thousandth time senior officials from both sides have struck upon the idea. The first time it seemed dazzlingly original and potentially world-changing, but it has faded over the years and decades.
For a while, we heard a lot about ‘cooperating’ over the Lok Ma Chau Loop, a patch of polluted mud on the Hong Kong side of the border but owned by Shenzhen interests. Reading between the lines, it looked like they wanted some sort of cross-border money-laundering zone, though everyone was too polite to say so. Since Shenzhen’s then-mayor fell from grace, we have heard less of it.
Now it is the turn of Qianhai, mentioned in the Hong Kong government press release to assure counterparts across the border that we are oh-so-keen to ‘cooperate’ over the plan to develop an enclave with Hong Kong financial freedoms under Shenzhen officials’ control. Beijing seems to have vetoed the original plans to develop a RMB offshore centre and turn the place into South China’s Manhattan, complete with Hong Kong laws (Hong Kong’s main industry would thenceforth be making pork dumplings). Now, it will be some sort of bonded port – or the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, if you prefer.
Perhaps we should start with something more modest, like some hints on emergency services response. The Shenzhen paramedics took 30 minutes to get to the bus crash, right in the city’s ground transport hub.
A witness described how another woman cheated death. He said the woman was vomiting on the roadside when she saw the coach approaching and lay flat on the ground as the vehicle passed over her.
Isn’t it about time there was a Black Travel Advisory issued for the mainland on account of its appalling road safety record?
Damn you Urban beating me to the punch on the call for a black travel warning.
But the needless deaths of 4 HK’ers in 1 week certainly should demand some form of high level rebuke, reprimand or condemnation of Shenzhen traffic policing from our noble and high minded leaders who place the safety of the public they purportedly serve for example, in places such as Fa Yuen Street and To Kwo Wan above all other considerations……oh….
All we need to see now is that the Bus involved has a couple of hundred unpaid traffic tickets against it and that the driver has a suspended license and was off his face on amphetamines having been driving for thlap regions 36 hours without sleep.
Then it could be a story straight from the pages of “The Star” or “The New Straits Times”…
As long as we don’t get any crushed Asian/crustacean jokes, it’s all right.
It is indeed tragic that this kind of thing happens , and did happen
But if it had not happened in SZ and 3 HK people had not been involved it would not even make the local Chinese district news
The driving skills in China are appalling ( or at least seem to be appalling to westerners because of the erratic lane switching but somehow Chinese drivers learn to anticipate this and avoid each other like shadow dodgem car fighting ) . Many parts of the Chinese driving test can be bribed. On the other hand, part of the standard driving test ( at least in SZ) is a long – distance overnight marathon where the examiner takes 4 candidates on a 200 km drive overnight and they each have to take their turn at the wheel for a few hours. That’s a lot better than a quick 20 minute spin round the HK driving test course where every instructor also trains his pupils ( and ONLY that test course :” START TO TURN THE WHEEL WHEN YOU SEE THE REFLECTION OF THE LEFT WING IN MR WONG’S SHOP WINDOW AND STOP TURNING WHEN YOU REACH 7-11″ )
I often hold my heart in my hand whenever I fly in China , but then I remind myself that the chance of being killed in an air traffic accident is but a tiny fraction of being killed in a road accident, and I have been driven on almost a daily basis for hundreds of km per week for almost 25 years with never an accident ( touch wood)
It’s all in the statistics
At the risk of boring the readership this quiet morning as we wake up from Christmas …
Seems the best news of today was too late for the Standard
This has just been posted on-line on the SCMP…………
Traces of the bacteria that cause ( ” the killer”) legionnaires’ disease were discovered in the new HK$5.5 billion government headquarters at Tamar days after education chief Michael Suen Ming-yeung was diagnosed with the potentially fatal condition.
Health protection chiefs have launched an investigation after the traces were found inside a tap in the private toilet of Suen’s office on the 11th floor of the east wing.
The 4.2-hectare complex came into service in September after a last-minute rush to get the development – also home to the new Legislative Council – completed on time.
Last night as Suen, 67, remained in hospital being treated for the disease, officials said samples were now being taken from water pipes on the 10th to 15th floors of the east wing which connect to pipes on the 11th floor.
However, the officials said that samples taken from the water tank that supplies the building had been given the all-clear.
The block at the centre of the health scare is home to the offices of seven government departments, including the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Environment Bureau and the Security Bureau. Centre for Health Protection controller
Dr Thomas Tsang Ho-fai said preliminary results from samples taken on December 22 showed Legionella pneumophila bacteria were found in four samples taken from the tap IN THE PRIVATE TOILET of Suen’s office.
While one cannot but feel sorry for Michael Suen ( one would not wish any sickness on anyone in govt. no matter how badly they have performed of late , even though one does often wish some of them to be struck down by a bolt of lightning ) I cannot but feel there is certain poetic justice in the particular govt departments housed in the affected block.
Is this a message from God to certain “ministers” to do better in 2012 ?
And the second best news of today is that the “dear leader” of axis of evil notoriety has finally been laid to ( give the rest of the world some) rest at last
However – knowing that Hender’s readership is educated , intelligent and open I must recommend a newly published book :
” The Cleanest Race ” by B. R. Myers
which explains N Korea in a way I can only express mind-blowing.
I picked up a copy at the airport on monday, read it in one sitting, and then read it through again immediately ( that’s something I never did before with any other book)
The paperback 2nd / revised edition only came out in October this year, and 2 months later KJI is dead and KJO takes over…. talk about timing
This book is a must read, and challenges every western perception of N Korea ( Don’t think that it’s an apologetic / sympathetic analysis : far from it , but it does explain logically why N Korea behaves the way it does )
Best tip for this week : buy it and read it