Front-page fantasies

The front page is largely fictitious today. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung ‘survives impeachment bid’, we are told. Ever since the procedure was invented in Medieval England, impeachment has largely been a political rather than legal weapon. The pro-democrats trying to get CY beheaded in the town square are no doubt inspired by the example of US President Bill Clinton, who was charged with perjury in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Substitute a car port roof for a vivacious and curvy intern, and a trellis for a cigar, and you’ve sort of pretty much got the case against CY. Clinton was found not guilty by the Senate, which acts as the court.

So it is a grand (and some would say archaic) gesture, which means that legislators and their supporters trying to impeach a leading public office-holder are in danger of coming across as pompous, pretentious, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing and/or boorish. In the UK, various extremely moral, ethical and – indeed – unimpeachable heroes of truth and justice went to some lengths to impeach Prime Minister Tony Blair for the war on Saddam Hussein; while the attempt was doomed, the feeling of being involved in such a campaign – and, dare we say, all the publicity and adoring support from trendy people – were better than sex. And this maybe helps explain why Hong Kong’s pro-democrats were jubilantly pronouncing their motion a victory yesterday even while agreeing with anyone pointing out that it was going to fail.

The votes that ‘negatived’ the motion came from the functional constituencies, which does at least give the pan-dems some authentic moral high ground. The story has also attracted a bit of attention overseas, where it could actually enhance the Big Lychee’s image as a modern Western-style democracy, because otherwise those Hongkongers wouldn’t have impeachments there would they? (Or have so much freedom.) I don’t suppose it has been widely reported across the border, though the local edition of China Daily can’t resist the opportunity to put the word ‘fizzles’ in a headline. To Mainland tourists, it must be like finding the Queen’s head on dollar coin: I’ve a feeling we’re not in Guizhou any more.  Meanwhile, Hong Kong continues to await the pro-dems’ proposed solutions to air pollution and housing prices with interest.

The other big item on the front page is an ad. ‘Recover your youth’, it says, ‘with 1,000 glasses of red wine’. To my amazement, the substance in the magic capsules actually exists, even though the word ‘resveratrol’ has ‘dreamed up by marketing department’ written all over it. Needless to say, the claims are garbage, and while red grape skins (or wine) may indeed contain some desirable nutrients, there are far cheaper and more enjoyable ways of obtaining them, which hardly need spelling out. The Standard carries quite a few ads for junk and semi-junk medicine/cosmetic products, and I would be intrigued to know which demographic the marketers are targeting (or think they’re targeting).

For people finding it hard to pin down how they feel about it all, and for amateur linguists and admirers of graphic representation of information, something factual: emotions for which there are no English words.


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8 Responses to Front-page fantasies

  1. Bela NostagiHK says:

    I’m still feeling all NostalgiHK after your piece yesterday…

    When are white boots, fried hair, thigh-high socks and the Daughter Of Darkness At Noon Look going to come back? Taxi flagfall of HK$ 5.50, cheeseburger and coffee at McDonalds for HK$ 10.00 and flats on Lantau for HK$ 2000 a month (no surcharge for truly weird/criminal/entertaining expat neighbours)?

    The best piece about Clinton was by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison: Clinton As The First Black President. He was!

    “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and bodysearched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and–who knows?–maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

    Curiously you could say some of this of CY:

    ” Self-made, intelligent, principled, driven by a sense of horror and injustice at what your home city has become…you will be put in your place by a Dunce Confederacy of wishy-washy Democrats, corrupt landed gentry and gangs of self-interested loons obsessed with property prices and keeping the squeeze intact in their chosen sector.”

    CY is the best elixir Hong Kong ever had, better than dog penis pills!

  2. Stephen says:

    Of course the big difference, I believe, being that there is no legal impeachment process in HK (unlike the US or a say a no confidence motion in UK). Hence this coupled with our undemocratic stacked legislature begs the question why was all this time and effort wasted? CY goes when China says. Period.

    I note the air is particularly filthy today, Sun Hung Kai have raised prices for ‘The Wings’ and no one took advantage of the recent changes in the MPF. In addition changes are afoot in the companies’ ordinance and not a day goes by when citizens don’t find outright cases of collusion.

    Today’s starter for 10 – How many times has a ‘New Town’ Transport Terminus been moved from a public estate to a private housing estate and a bonus point for correctly identifying the reason ? Plenty for our politicians to be getting on with …

    And as for the bigoted author of the HK Blog Review – You will find this ageing expat fairly knowledgeable about this town despite not speaking Cantonese and, like you, due to our undemocratic political structure has little to no influence on what passes for governance here.

  3. Property Developer says:

    Impeachment has an important constitutional role in places like the US, since you need a counter-power to unseat the president if necessary (separation of powers); whereas the monarchy in some countries can act as ultimate recourse. Here in HK, we’ve just got the courts (for the moment), the police, the ICAC, various mainland bodies and — recently — public opinion.

    I don’t think it’s entirely fair to blame the pan-dems for not offering a detailed platform, when it would be purely academic, or for being systematically negative and indulging in merely symbolic displays. The Tibetan government in exile is faced with similar moral quandaries.

  4. Jason says:

    @ Bela: “driven by a sense of horror and injustice at what your home city has become”….. May I remind you, CY didn’t come from nowhere. He is, as an Executive Counciller since 1997, co-responsible for the ‘horror and injustice’ in our home city. And providing jobs for losers like Lau Kong Wah, isn’t exactly a clever move.

  5. Maugrim says:

    Yes the dems are taking advantage, yes there are better issues in HK. However, yes Leung told a blatant lie when he had done worse, and yes, he is a qualified surveyor.

  6. Walter De Havilland says:

    Dear Hemmers,

    Monica Lewinsky was many things: calculating, cunning and maybe vivicous. However, she certainly was not ‘curvy’ unless you consider a dumpling ‘curvy.’

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Here’s another factual word for an emotion for which there is no adequate English word .

    It only exists in the tiny ex- British colony* of HK ( now a Chinese SAR) and it expresses feeling of anguish / frustration/ total contempt -cum- disgust for the the fact that the pro-dems have become a load of self-righteous BS-ers


    ( *or “coloncy” as I originally typed in a Freudian typo )

  8. Bangkok Lurker says:

    Interestingly, there are a number of words in Cantonese (and possibly Putonghua, too) to describe smells and tastes for which no English equivalent exists:

    Seng — a sharp, raw, kind of “fishy” aroma/flavour, though “fishy” doesn’t really do it justice (cucumber is also considered “seng”)

    Ngap — the scent of a sour sweaty T-shirt, cleaning rag, etc. Not unlike the smell of stale urine

    Hong — a dry and rather stale “toasty” smell

    So — a strong aroma/flavour found in some meats—notably lamb and goat—and some cheeses made with goat’s and ewe’s milk

    There are probably more. I’m still learning….

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