Wavers of colonial Hong Kong flags, nostalgic for a simpler, happier time before buffoons like Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang started to wreck the city, dance in the streets with joy. After years of alienation, disruption and anxiety brought on by incessant and unfathomable integration, partnership and cooperation, the Big Lychee experiences a day of plain good old-fashioned, down-home mayhem, just like we used to have.
On both sides of the harbour, deranged wretches wreak their respective versions of havoc. A mother and child in leafy, prosperous, up-30%-in-12-months Taikoo Shing die in one of the city’s most traditional forms of tragedy, the murder-suicide. In Kowloon, the pandemonium is more avant-garde. A man snatches a random baby from a hospital in order (for rather complex reasons) to obtain a saliva sample, and it later transpires that the baby may be that of a (separate) man’s ‘second wife’, a detail that is fascinating because – not despite – of its virtual irrelevance.
In the US, campaigners are demanding better control of guns. But there are 100 million or 200 million of the things, so some perceptive observers are pondering better control of the mentally ill – who are the ones who open fire in schools and cinemas. We have to wonder what Hong Kong, with pitiful psychiatric provision and a default culture of bottling things up to extreme lengths, would be like if half the households had a firearm. The Standard would be twice today’s size.
Back in the days when tycoons were heroes and no-one had ever heard of Yuan business, the Big Lychee had a dear and venerable tradition of bizarre corporate hanky-panky. And this too makes a comeback.
Shares in Agile Property Holdings (whaddya mean, never heard of ‘em?) plunge as its big boss appears in court. But it’s not just ‘appears in court’. It’s ‘appears in court on two counts of indecent assault’. But wait! There’s more! There’s karaoke. But that goes without saying.
And then, to cap it all, we have the inappropriate tacky stock market listing. Was it Club Bboss or Club Volvo? One of them, a couple of decades back, considered going public. Some people were amused, while others squirmed with embarrassment at the idea of a bordello installing itself alongside all those upstanding constituents of the Hang Seng Index.
Today’s plan for a distasteful initial public offering is not so much from the whoring as the pimping side. The company is called EK Immigration Consulting. It arranges customers for such ladies of the night as Canada, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Canada, who will sell themselves for money in the guise of attracting investment or something mysterious called ‘talent’.
Speaking of investment, I wouldn’t have thought this company would be a great addition to anyone’s portfolio. I’d be interested to see what the prospectus has to say about some pretty basic political policy risk. When the number of Mandarin-speaking, money-laundering ex-officials reaches, say, 20% of the Canadian/Oz/NZ populations, voters may decide that – wide open spaces or not – enough’s enough, and elect governments that pull the plug on passports-for-cash deals. And shares in EK Immigration Consulting will drop even faster than those in Agile Property Holdings. Sounds like the sort of thing that happened in old times. The reminiscing will no doubt end tomorrow.