Isn’t there anyone out there who can just keep their hands in their own pockets?

Depending whose numbers you believe, between 5,000 and 10,000 children perished in the Sichuan earthquake, most because corrupt officials had built substandard schools. The Hong Kong government and a United Front teachers’ union each sent HK$2 million to replace one institution, the Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic [presumably Tibetan] Secondary School. And now we find the building has been knocked down to make way for a luxury residential project or, as Xinhua coyly puts it, a plaza. The Standard says the HK Federation of Education Workers isn’t trying to get its money back; the South China Morning Post says it is. It must be awkward, being good patriots, to complain about what can only be local officials’ bribe-taking. The Hong Kong government seems to be made of sterner stuff, and is demanding its – our – cash. Obviously, no-one is going to get arrested. That only happens to parents of the dead children.

We like to think that such things couldn’t happen here. But we are probably less sure about Macau, our diminutive fellow Special Administrative Region across the Pearl River Delta, where a court has given prosecutors the go-ahead to do Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau for bribery and money-laundering. The accusation is that Lau’s company bribed now-imprisoned Macau official Ao Man-long in connection with the awarding of land, now being developed as a (Oh my God, how incredibly original) luxury residential project. There’s no link with the tantalizingly sloth-like corruption investigation into Sun Hung Kai Property’s Kwok brothers, but it’s somehow gratifying to remind ourselves of it anyway.

I was once briefly introduced in passing to a Macau judge. He was 26. This may be good news for the prosecutor, or maybe for Lau.

Correction: Administrative Officers and their admirers rush to tell me that Home Affairs Bureau official Florence Hui, tipped to be first boss of the new Culture Bureau, hasn’t a drop of civil service DNA in her blood. I knew I’d heard the name somewhere; she was one of those outside political appointees hired to be groomed as ‘talent’ a few years ago.

The phrasing of her Wikipedia entry (not to mention the fact that it exists) suggests she wrote it herself. Or am I just being nasty here? It is a brief bio – a list of rather too many universities, banking jobs and assignments in Donald Tsang-establishment temples of worship – but I could précis it further: wannabe pol on the make. This explains her defence of her suitability for the culture role, which would have been a most unladylike thing for an AO to do.

Incoming Chief Executive CY Leung would be fully entitled on taking office to sign a political appointee’s gratuity cheque, show her the door and wish her well in ravenously climbing all the private-sector greasy poles she likes. Or maybe her ominous ambition will remind him of himself in his younger years, and he will harness her lust for power to make life miserable for some or other poor group of bureaucrats.

This site will go into semi-hibernation over the next couple of weeks, with occasional dribs and drabs and not much else, as I make my biennial state visit to the English-speaking world.

Click to hear Steely Dan’s ‘Here at the Western World’!
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15 Responses to Isn’t there anyone out there who can just keep their hands in their own pockets?

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Does anyone know what kind of aeroplane that is ? It looks deliciously 1950s. I am getting flashes of “Flash Gordon”, and even “Buck Owens in the 23rd century”.

  2. Bela Lugosi says:

    After the queue at immigration at 5.30 am drains you and the first snarl of the British Airways airport handlers greets you, there is always the gritty pleasure of the long walk to the sweaty underground and/or the delightful sardine express of the privatized railways to look forward to. Good luck. Brave man.

    Talking about corruption. …You may have missed something…

    They complain about schools being demolished to build luxury flats in China when the same thing is happening all over Hong Kong. Schools are being closed, demolished and handed over to private developers. Oh well, it’s not good honest corruption like in the Mainland. It’s just called “Who gives a damn about education if we can build another shopping mall”. As the Standard puts it:

    “Education secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung told the Legislative Council yesterday that six aided institutions will close their doors in as many years, raising to 101 the number of shuttered schools since 2003. Suen said two primary schools and four secondary schools will close after phasing out their classes by 2018.”

    It’s the best land grab ever! Hurrah!!

  3. Ping Che says:

    #Joe: That should be a Convair XC-99

  4. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Toad-like Stephen Lam is guaranteed not to make waves on the sacred soil of the glorious motherland.

    Otherwise, it’s hard to know where to start: a secondary school sharing facilities with a teacher training college (and they talk about the infantilisation of the teachers!); the automatic idea that bigger is better; the suspicion that the terms of transfer may have been improved so as to undermine the critics; the abuse of the concept of “temporary” (cf. HKG’s filling in of the Harbour); a public school built on private land; the notion that mere criticism constitutes adequate “punishment”.

    This heady mixture of greed, corruption and lies lays bare, yet again, the morally bankrupt mainland government — the one daily invading our own institutions. The revealing comment by the leader of the Heung Yee Kuk, that his feelings were hurt, and demanding a land swap so that he wasn’t “hemmed in” by government land, says it all.

  5. Big Al says:

    Perusing the sub-Standard yesterday and reading the articles on Civil Servants whinging about morale (as usual) and Mainlanders bleating on about resident foreigners “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people” (as opposed to Mao causing suffering and death to 30M+ of them), I had an epiphany: “affecting morale” and “hurting the feelings” are two sides of the same coin. These two terms can be swapped without changing the meaning of the sentences in question. Try it!

  6. Stephen says:

    This will be an interesting blog over the next few weeks as the author posts diamond jubilee missives from the former mighty Albion.

    I also skimmed through the Sub Standard this morning to see Jasper admitting he dropped a bollock. But he’s safe in the knowledge that the utterly inept Pro-Dems (just 4 months away from an electorial smiting) are still spouting bile and his CCP sponsored party will sweep the elections in September.

    Depressingly I turned the page to Gloria’s life studies …

  7. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    >> the notion that mere criticism constitutes adequate “punishment”

    But I’m sure they sincerely apologised. That makes everything right.

  8. oddsox says:

    They wrote lengthy self-criticisms and then promptly wired their money to the US, Singapore, Australia, England, Canada or whereever so their princeling progeny could buy righteous sports cars with which to wreak havoc upon the domestic pedestrian and taxi riding community. That’s a much more filial means of atoning.

  9. Probably says:

    @Joe,
    Isn’t it Buck Rogers in the 23rd Century? I’ll get my coat…..

  10. Joe Blow says:

    Buck Rogers in the 23rd Century ?

    No, it’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    I have just come from one of my 2 x annual ( does that = a biennial or 1/4 of such ? ) trips to the Land of our Fathers

    Nothing has changed except that now ALL the luggage trolleys at Heathrow have rattling wheel bearings ( which is no news) , but ( real progress) there’s an express queue at immigration if you have a new UK passport , which works like the HK system (automatic ) so it was worthwhile to go through my ritual UK passport renewal in HK a few months ago

    But all the people all look 5 years older than they did last year (including even Cameron and Clegg )

    It somehow feels so good to come back to HK where youth is so evident everywhere.

    All those who grouse about the BL should go back to UK ( or Aussie-land, or USA, or wherever they came from originally) at least once per year to get things into perspective .

    HK is not such a bad place, and it may yet get better. My glass is still half full

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    Early Bird : Friday AM

    “Hongkongers who spend most of their time working on the mainland will see their tax bills reduced thanks to new rules taking effect next month that are aimed at eliminating double taxation”

    I’m not sure how that will affect me because I always paid my full tax in HK albeit working Monday – friday in the PRC. Thus I am truly a REAL tax payer in HK

    But far more important is that J ( slippery) Lau will be indited in Macau which leaves us with the somewhat delicious treat of an extradition treaty between our two SARs . So which is THE most corrupt these days ?

    But in any case, the ICAC ordinance covers both receiving and GIVING bribes, so that nails Mr Lau in HK under suspicion regardlsss of what the (doubtless corrupt) Macao judiciary thinks .

    If the ICAC want to arrest Mr Lau in public I can tell them where and when he lunches : it’s @ the Fuk Lam Moon in Johnston Road where his car blocks all the traffic

    This is one tycoon whose extradition we can well support to Macao to block their traffic instead of ours

    PS : I have a mole inside J Lau’s legal firm : most legal firms will not touch his business, so crooked is it and his dealings are automatically on the SEC black list

    How come such awful people are allowed to survive in HK?

  13. anon says:

    How easily Hemlock seems to understand CY Leung & Florence Hui. They are simply CLONES of himself perhaps.

  14. gunlaw says:

    Hong Kong does not have death duty but other places do and they tax death duty on Brits, Americans and Aussies and the works at many, many % even if you think that because you live in Hong Kong, that tax doesn’t apply to those who come after you.

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