Exciting HK demographics and law updates

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 Kraalhere.

Click to see extracts of the film version of ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson’s End’!

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30 Responses to Exciting HK demographics and law updates

  1. Joe Bugner says:

    The reason ESF is in such trouble is that it is all costly administration. It is common to have FIVE supervisors and coordinators above one – and all women of course.

    ESF stands for Extremely Self-satisfied Fonies.

    As for having children, you can tell the world now Hemlock that you prefer fluffy lovely pooches. I know you are a secret Miniature Pomeranian lover, or was it a Maltese Terrier I saw you with at McDonalds..you were lovingly feeding it Chicken McNuggets before returning it to the dog pram?

  2. Sir Crispin says:

    Lady Crispin desires to produce spawn, but which I resist for every point made in today’s post. The good lady also works for ESF and knows full well the tuition costs. I repeatedly point out to her every time she asks about breeding, where shall we put it? We can’t afford a bigger apartment, especially since the little bundle of financial burden will suck up every spare cent for clothes and food. Besides, this planet is over-populated, so why add one more little resource-sucking parasite to the planet?

  3. R lloyd says:

    The issue is that the ESF is getting less per pupil than the local system making it more expensive for parents on not such great incomes whose alternative is to go into the local system, whilst Harrow gets millions in free land.

  4. Henry Cooper says:

    Hello Joe Bugner

    are you George Adams in disguise? You never did like the matriarchal organisation that is ESF (or indeed virtually any other non-adult educational establishment worldwide)

    I guess when the ESF schools are oversubscribed by a factor of 2, it’s hard to suggest that they are in trouble. There is a long way to go with their fees before they hit the heady heights of Chinese or American International schools.

  5. maugrim says:

    The post about standard of living issues and Government induced problems is an interesting one. As to the ESF issue, I feel Hemmers over does ‘local schools are dungeons’ schtick, not that far removed from hearing expats talk about Kowloon as ‘the dark side’. I suspect he’s better than that.

    The ESF’s increase isnt huge given cost of living increases that will no doubt be granted by businesses over the next few months. Im assuming the ESF’s own costs will have risen too. That said, I’m not sure what they spend their cash on. I saw students and their teachers at Stanley one afternoon engaged in a ‘learning’ activity. From the dress and demeanour of the kids and their teachers, it looked like a British comprehensive school had been transplanted to HK. 3 o’clock shutting up shop and all. I hope parents feel they are getting something from their $100,000. Better than rote learning perhaps?

  6. Ein Stein says:

    People who don’t have kids are just not complete humans. I would sooner talk to vegetarians or pot heads. It’s the same self-absorbed pile of crap as far as conversation goes. Branch out guys. Discover humanity and forget your own egos. You think it’s an ego but it’s just solipsism. Everybody in Hong Kong is practically a nobody. Who knows or cares about anyone in Hong Kong just fifty miles in either direction?

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    It pisses me off enormously that the bureaucrats who decide our schools policy all send their kids off to expensive UK or USA schools (at tax-payers’ expense, of course) . Maybe we should just make it a requirement that any civil servant above basic AO level must have at least 3 kids at local schools ( they can send the excess above 2 kids abroad but at their own expense)

    At least we all have to breath the same awful air ( kids and all – at least the ones not in UK or USA for school) – see today’s SCMP which says the photochemical smog will go on for YEARS . No wonder Michael Suen is back in hospital.

    On brighter news, parody rules OK, so at least they won’t shut down the BL.

    I’m thinking how to parody that superb non-speak blather of the govt stooge who tried to duck out of the question of whether donald actually did ( or did not , or actually did “did not” actually – but in fact did ” not not did” : how many negatives = one positive these days in govt ? ) use the meeting room facilities of his $69K Brazil suite which Hemmers gave a link to a couple of days back . The multi- paragraph answers in reply to simple one- line reporters’ questions deserve a bauhinnia medal for evasiveness.
    But there’s a 5000 word cap on comments even at weekends on the BL, so I’ll pass on that

  8. dungeon master says:

    @maugrim: speaking from experience Hemlock is spot on with his view of the local education system.

  9. expat says:

    @Maugrim: The ESF’s increase isnt huge given cost of living increases that will no doubt be granted by businesses over the next few months.

    Not in my industry and I daresay not in lots of others either. Most people are still being squeezed.

  10. Wanchai Dreamer says:

    @ RTP

    There are worse. Like the academics in our illustrious highly world-ranked university who in meetings make great play of the academic excellence of their own department and indeed the entire institution but who afterwards can’t wait to tell an eager audience how young Frederick or Sally are doing at ………..(insert name of any overseas university). I once had the temerity to suggest in a meeting that a survey be conducted to determine just how many academic and senior administrative staff actually sent their children to the institution that employed them and if preferential tuition fees would provide an incentive to do so……………..

    I’ll leave now.

  11. gunlaw says:

    Where do I collect my medal for having 5 children and employing the ESF?

  12. Salt Mine Worker says:

    As an expat labourer/ academic with experience in several of our “esteemed” and “world-class” universities I can also reiterate that hemlock is right on in his evaluation of the zombie-like nature of students who come out of local schools. Sadly while the ESF schools are ridiculously costly and highly problematic they do produce better prepared students for uni. The only local schools that get even close are Diocesan, St. Stephen’s, and King’s College (probably not surprising to anyone here). Speaking of the latter CY is a grad of King’s College does anyone know where Henry Tang attended? I am curious because despite the fact he attended U. Mich his grasp of English is quite pathetic versus CY’s… all politics left aside.

  13. Walter De Havilland says:

    I’m glad my kids are out of the ESF. In its heyday it gave an excellent education, with teachers focused on the pupils and parents encouraged to be involved. Under the current regime it more of a business, that has lost sight of its origins. The treatment it has received at the hands of the government is poor, but the process of decline was helped along when a UK Labour Party darling was brought in to run things. I still have vivid memories of her performance at a meeting with parents at South Island School, when she refused to answer any questions, exiting the school hall in a haughty manner with a wave of her hand. In view of current events Ms Du Quesnay has some questions to answer, although don’t expect any answers. How much time does she actually spend in Hong Kong attending to ESF matters and in view of the belt tightening at the ESF, what sacrifices is she making?

  14. Salt Mine Worker says:

    Also I guess I should add in the spirit of full disclosure. I spent time as a visiting (foreign) academic at City U while it was under CY’s tenure as Council Chair. The reports of him being authoritarian and ruining the university are way overblown. The university administration and tenured professors with comfy seemingly-permanent livelihoods are the problem. Much like the civil service their morale is lowered at even the hint of the slightest change.

  15. jing says:

    The same psycho planners signed off the handing over of $$$millions of taxpayers’ money to Harrow school. The grander the plan, the more money pumped in. A reckoning is overdue. Here’s one idea in today’s SCMP:
    Now that the Legislative Council’s environment panel has voted down funding for the proposed incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, one of Leung Chun-ying’s first tasks as chief executive should be to remove Edward Yau Tang-wah from the position of environment minister.
    The name of the Environmental Protection Department is inappropriate.
    It has allowed our air quality to deteriorate and wasted millions planning a giant incinerator that would have worsened air pollution and trashed an area of unspoilt countryside.
    There has been much talk about how Mr Leung needs to earn the support of the civil service and the public. Hong Kong has lacked leadership in recent years, and a leader gains support by earning respect. He must very publicly replace the under-achievers who are at present cluttering up our civil service.
    This would put much needed accountability and fear of retribution into our cosseted bureaucrats and, at the same time, win instant support from the city’s frustrated citizens.
    Mr Yau, in particular, has wasted years dithering over an unenforceable ban on idling engines while ignoring pollution, environmental degradation and waste disposal.
    We have become a laughing stock, with stories running in the international press portraying the SAR as the world’s dirtiest financial centre, which produces more rubbish per capita than anywhere on earth.
    Yau and others remind me of the department head in the British comedy television series Yes Minister: “My department is not expected to do things; we are just here to explain why things cannot be done.”
    R. E. J. Bunker, Lantau

  16. maugrim says:

    WDH, just as a casual observer, yes, the ESF had some great teachers, largely as it had fairly good remuneration by world standards factoring in the local tax rate etc. After the handover the ESF seemingly decided to expand rather than to say, as an alternative, downsize, and exist without Government income and serve those who needed it most. Whilst there seems to be a lack of sympathy within the Government to the ESF’s plight and contradictions such as the aid granted to Harrow, I still have a nagging feeling that the ESF’s present situation is a mess of its own making.

  17. oddsox says:

    Despite the blinkered thinking of some correspondents, surely there are more pressing problems facing the incoming CE and HK than (1) the ESF and (2) a rubbish incinerator. I’d count 80 year olds rummaging for cardboard and newspapers in rubbish bins and the yawning wealth gap just slightly higher. HK could if it wished end funding English language school education with little consequence. It may have some effect on the immigration of midtier foreigners, but probably little on the economy as most people here simply just don’t have to speak high functioning English and mid tier foreigners are easily replaced by locals. Those that do tend to need to speak good high end English have been educated abroad or at the better local schools. The only issue for the ESF is, if the govt chooses to fund it, why doesn’t it fund it at par with local schools as the parents of those attending pay taxes. As for the incinerator, the anti-incinerator proponents should properly model or explain a better, cheaper system if they want to convince anyone of their views. If they have, I apologise, but they’ve done an extremely poor job of publicising the fact. Otherwise they just come across as a bunch of squealing privileged foreigners who wouldn’t give a damn if the incinerator was located in Tuen Mun but who protest because it spoils the views from their Palladian semi-rural retreats on “South Lantau”.

    I have no children and am undoubtedly human, despite what the procreation propagandists think. I even like children in small doses and tend to be liked by my nieces and nephews – more than they like their own parents in many instances. I just don’t want any kids. The world population is 8b and rising in case they haven’t noticed. In my experience, people with children are often billigerantly militant on the necessity of having children with those who have none. We childless pay taxes and take less from the state. Parents should be grateful. Contraception came along to separate the now unnecessary biological consequence of enjoying sexual relations from the pleasure and companionship it can bring, as mature adults can elect to do. A lot of adults, and even more women, realise that there’s more to life than whelping kids and it can be a more satisfying life too. Get over it. If you want to join the lottery of raising children and wasting all your money and time on them fine, do so. But don’t prosyletise or condemn. It’s tiresome and wrong. I for one have better things to do with both my money and time and have no time or interest in tiresome (usually Christian) faith-based arguments that you’re not complete unless you have a child. Many psychological studies show parents are less happy than adults without children. So, take your wailing ungrateful brats, possibly likely to grow up into sullen ungrateful teens who loathe you yet sponge endlessly off you, and, in short, piss off.

  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Jing

    Thanks for that one 🙂

    I missed that letter, but oh how true. Great stuff

    As something of an environmentalist : by persuasion / politically, and also scientific- training wise and business-wise mr yau deserves to be buried alive at the bottom of a waste disposal tip, or else incinerated alive in retribution for his total and absolute incompetency

    PS: I know it clogs up the works when some of us commentators cut n stick whole articles from the press ( and I’m a chief culprit ) , but sometimes there is really a lot of good stuff. Thanks to Hemmers for his tolerance.

    PPS : Alex Lo’s “My Take” today re CY employing Ms CCCP aka the attractive Ms Chen Ren was a classic. I posted it under the BL article a couple of days ago on this subject for those who are interested, and who like a good laugh at the pro dems’ outrage at having a REAL LIVE (but ex) – COMMIE on CY’s staff , albeit at 1/10 the cost of donald’s top appointees

  19. Wanchai Dreamer says:

    The ESF lost the plot long ago – as did the government on the issue of its own role and funding in the bigger picture of the provision of educational opportunities for non-Cantonese speakers. My two kids had an excellent ESF education back in the 80s and 90s – who of that era can forget the formidable Ms Holmes of the original Kennedy Road School and the very dedicated and competent staff at Island School. Not only did the ESF itself screw up but I have always felt that the government particularly post-97 saw the ESF schools as a bastion of colonial privilege even as the evidence clearly indicated that they were, or should have been, fulfilling a vital role for an increasingly diverse international community. But then it is clear that with the exception of reinforced concrete, the HK government always tends to pursue a policy of promoting scarcity thereby strengthening the hand of the market.

  20. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Maugrim. I agree the ESFs has brought the current situation on itself and the current management team appears incapable of addressing the situation.

  21. Revolution says:

    Whilst I am no fan of ESF management and they make their share of mistakes, some of the criticism above is a bit unfair in light of the above facts:

    1. there is extremely high demand for English language education in Hong Kong. Applications for places at English language institutions are far higher than actual places

    2. ESF is the organisation best equipped to expand to meet this demand, and has tried to do so (eg Discovery College)

    3. Despite (1) and (2), over the last 10 years or so the Government has either treated the ESF as a pariah, a colonial relic full of rich white kids which is undeserving of funding (which is hilarious: check out the demographics at Kowloon Junior or Beacon Hill, for example) and latterly has pretended the subvention problem doesn’t exist, with the result that as costs rise Parents who are Permanent Residents – who form the vast majority of the parent population, and are all taxpayers – get less from the Government in terms of funding than parents of children at most other schools.

    I hope the new administration will try to get a grip on the subvention issue and try to use the ESF as a force for good rather than ignoring it or treating it as some sort of elitist institution, which it has never been and certainly is not now.

  22. So, So Thirsty says:

    @Oddsox – Congratulations! Never have I seen so much self-righteousness packaged into only 2 (albeit long) paragraphs. Wow.

    Is it possible that some correspondents could actually care about several, even many, subjects including those outlined by your good self & yet still hold an opinion on the topic of the day? Put another way, does commenting on the ESF preclude someone from caring about elderly scavengers? No, thought not.

    As for kids, have them or don’t have them. I have 3, you have none – so what? I’m sure no-one cares if you don’t have kids, but it is telling that those who do not plan to have kids always seem to have the need to justify it.

    Also, could you provide some sources for the ‘many psychological studies’ that you mention?

    And a ‘picky’ point just for the hell of it – “A lot of adults, and even more women…” Many women will be surprised to learn that they are not adults

  23. Joe Blow says:

    If demand for good English education in HK is so high then any right-thinking entrepreneur should jump in that hole and fill it. Or just fill it.

  24. Walter De Havilland says:

    @joeblow. Well, that’s what Harrow are doing with a little help from their friends in government with a land grant. I’d like to know how many kids of senior officials eventually get places at Harrow.

  25. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Oddsox ( et. al)

    I empathise with you.

    I decided long ago never to have kids in HK , but then when I (re-) married I inherited a 14 YO kid who now goes to a HK govt school for almost free – happily a good one based on my residence catchment area ( for once my tax pays back ! )

    I have kept silent on the BL re this fact thus far so as not to get embroiled in a debate in which I have no big input

    But I must say to my mind it’s very strange that whenever kids’ education comes up there’s an immediate flurry of comments , often very heated.

    Guess that’s the case because those who do have kids are rightfully very concerned about their standard of education. My own parents forked out the maximum to make sure I and I my brother had THE best education in the UK ( I’m talking Oxbridge) , but after that they took it as understood that me and my brother were “on our own in life” and never gave us a cent in support. GOOD FOR THEM !

    My brother made his own way in property renovation projects in UK and I made my own way in China

    My biggest worry now is that my Kid- son by marriage sees HK as THE ultimate benevolent society and everything is for free

    Now that’s seriously B A D .

    Help !

  26. Joe Blow says:

    “How do you like kids ?”

    WC Fields: “Boiled”.

  27. Probably says:

    @Joe Blow,
    I really enjoy kids……. I just can’t finish a whole one!

  28. Probably says:

    And another thing….
    In my (albeit limited) experience of ESF, within a class of 20+ there are only 2 UK expat (Caucasian) kids. The rest are a lovely worldly mix of Sing, Malay, Indian or mixed race HK, and no bad thing too.
    If the HK government has a view of the ESF as some sort of colonial dinosaur then it seems to have some jaundiced / prejudiced view gleaned without ever actually visiting the establishment in question.

  29. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    “People who don’t have kids are just not complete humans. I would sooner talk to vegetarians or pot heads. It’s the same self-absorbed pile of crap as far as conversation goes. Branch out guys. Discover humanity and forget your own egos.”

    I find many parents are self-absorbed narcissists-by-proxy, finding much enjoyment in talking about their miniature replicas rather than interesting topics. Those of us without kids have the time and money to branch out and discover some humanity that isn’t a smaller scale reflection of ourselves.

  30. fumier says:

    @SST – if non-parents justify their situation this is because they are asked to do so. “Why don’t you have children?” as if having them is the default. (A bit like asking “Why DON’T you believe in (a) god?”)

    For some reason (perhaps to do with basic politeness and lack of presumption) the stupid question is actually dignified with a sensible answer. And, perhaps for the same reason, non-parents rarely ask parents why TF they have done what they have done. Perhaps they should do.

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