Just when you thought they couldn’t find anything else wrong with this city… We all knew that our air is dirty; apparently, it’s also horribly bright. Highly qualified and expensively funded scientists at the University of Hong Kong have discovered that the Big Lychee has a lot more lighting on at night than you would get in places where no-one lives. How much better it would be, they imply, if we ate more carrots and learned to enjoy feeling our way around in the dark like the valiant North Koreans, or suicidal villagers in the far north of wintry Sweden.
Maybe the Happy Foot Massage place in an alleyway down the hill from me could dim its garish sign, which emits such stupendous candlepower that it is detected by NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ Rover on Mars. But we still wouldn’t be able to see the stars, what with all the useful illumination in our urban areas, like the street lamps and the friendly glow of the beer section in 7-Eleven refrigerators. Even if you switched it all off, you still wouldn’t see the Milky Way, for the same reason you can’t see the sky during daytime. Sorry Hong Kong U, but no Nobel Prize this time.
If anything, in this city of black boxes, we need to shed more light rather than less. We might even be able to detect and untangle the logic in pro-Beijing mouth-frother Lau Nai-keung’s latest rant in China Daily.
Something he says here seems to make a certain amount of sense, especially in the context of yesterday’s theoretical clash between Mainland conglomerates and Hong Kong tycoons. The problem is that it comes straight after some really loopy stuff. The reader has three choices: take all of Lau’s article seriously; take none of it seriously; or ignore the first half and accept the second. (This pre-supposes that we understand what he is saying, which is a bit of a stretch – but for the sake of argument, let’s press on.)
He starts by apparently linking US efforts to rearrange the balance of power in Asia with our local pro-democracy ‘Occupy Central’ movement, likening said movement to Al-Qaeda, and concluding that the US and China do in fact see eye to eye after all. He then does his usual pro-forma criticism of moderate pro-dems.
With all that off his chest, he moves on to an altogether more interesting subject: the split in the pro-Beijing camp.
The Love China, Love Hong Kong government in power is prevented by the Love China, Love Hong Kong government-in-waiting from delivering real changes to Hong Kong. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised to deliver on land and housing policies, but since his election he has not been able to implement major changes to a system that is suffocating our businesses and making lives miserable.
The Love China, Love Hong Kong government-in-waiting, on the other hand, is getting impatient with all the waiting. A dinner gathering in Qianhai to be hosted at the end of this month by Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, is supposed to end the feud, but the outcome will ultimately depend on what is being served that night. From past experiences, these people have very good appetites.
In short, what will Mainland officials offer the tycoon supporters of CE-hopeful Henry Tang in return for their cooperation with CY, assuming CY’s head is not on the menu? We might wonder why Beijing doesn’t just stomp the plutocrats into submission; the tiniest threat to their Mainland business interests would do the job. But that brings us back to ‘Occupy Central’. To people like Wang Guangya, Hong Kong’s opposition forces are running dogs of evil Western powers determined to destroy China; the Communist Party needs the tycoons on-side.
Lau goes on to criticize the whole of the “Love China, Love Hong Kong” milieu, in and out of power…
It is by no means clear whether anybody in the camp loves anything but their own self-interest. However, if you want to use the brand you have a duty to maintain its goodwill, as a brand is only as effective as it is consistent. At the end of the day, it’s a thin line between not loving your country and hating it.
Is there anyone he doesn’t loathe? That he detests the pro-dems and the tycoons isn’t news, but he doesn’t even rule out the local administration – or even the Beijing officials who recently resurrected the zingy love-country-love-harbour catchphrase. Whether you accept 0%, 50% or 100% of his outpourings, you can’t deny the anguish. Everyone else on the more-or-less patriotic side is gearing up for soul-selling, principles-shredding compromise, leaving him the only true believer shining in the darkness.