Another working week draws to a close amid a plethora of interesting population and copyright developments. The South China Morning Post reveals that people outside Hong Kong actually want – and have – children. As proof, it introduces a Malaysian couple who have no fewer than three of the little beasts. It is feasible, they explain, only because they have a 1,400 square-foot apartment, two maids and (we infer) enough money to keep the little ones out of the cheap but zombie-producing local education system. And even with these advantages, which are beyond the dreams of 95% of Hongkongers, they all but admit that they may well leave town as the kids need space to run around in and more oxygen to breathe.
The couple didn’t mention the difficulties of finding maternity facilities. Things are, in fact, improving on this front, with private and now public hospitals introducing barriers to most Mainlanders hoping to give birth here. These mothers have accounted for around 40% of deliveries in the city, so their departure means a dramatic fall in Hong Kong’s birth rate in 2013. It also means that hospitals will be under less pressure as the demand for ante- and neo-natal services falls to more or less match supply, a situation not seen since – oh – the days when then-Chief Secretary Donald Tsang was saying we should all have three children.
The two main reasons to avoid having children in Hong Kong (aside from the fact that they are noisy, grasping vermin) are that the city’s psychopathic planners decree that most families live in little more than 400 square feet of space, and acceptable schools are extremely expensive. This second problem is due to the strange state of affairs whereby the psychopathic planners’ colleagues in the education bureaucracy send their own children to the desirable international-type schools but try to force everyone else’s kids into the rote-learning, personality-crushing local system.
Which leads us to the fascinating juxtaposition of stories in today’s Standard. On the top of the page, the English Schools Foundation announces that its fees are going up. Below, a gang tries to kidnap a young ESF student who is the grandchild of a noted barrister. (‘Noted’ is Standard-speak for ‘we’ve never heard of him either, but apparently he’s rich’.) The kid’s mother, we are informed, won a HK$1.2 billion (yes, that’s a ‘b’) divorce settlement last year. Leaving aside the intriguing question of whether she might like to get re-married – I’m pretty free this weekend – we must consider the motive. Is it not perfectly clear that the perpetrators were ESF parents resorting to desperate measures to be able to continue sending their offspring to the increasingly pricy but highly desirable Anglophone institutes?
Over on Planet Government, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So reassures us that the administration is not plotting to criminalize parody or satire via its Copyright amendment bill. As usual where the law is concerned, we are better off sticking with the easily digestible Standard report, which pretty much implies that on-line parodists are very definitely going to be shot if they utilize others’ commercial work. The good news is that sharing links to copyright material will be OK – if I understand this correctly. Maybe I don’t.
Let’s find out. I declare the weekend open with the comic and literary (and indeed satirical) genius of the late great Vivian Stanshall in the form of a number of MP3 files, to be used at one’s discretion, including the hard-to-find N’Didi’s Kraal… here.